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Posted on: March 26, 2021

Week of March 22: COVID-19 Update

Today the Governor announced an expansion of those eligible for the vaccine along with a partnership with the Biden Administration to open a pilot FEMA Community Vaccination Center located in Newark. Earlier this week the Governor noted that working with the New Jersey Bankers’ Association, the CrossState Credit Union Association, and numerous financial institutions directly he has secured support from 49 banks and credit unions to protect American Rescue Plan funds received by New Jersey residents from being garnished for past debts or overdrawn accounts.

In addition, the Department of Health updated its quarantine guidance following CDC recommendations. Individuals who have clinically recovered from COVD-19 in the past 3 months and those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after having close contact with someone with COVID-19 as long as they remain asymptomatic. However, there are exceptions for high-risk congregate care settings. The best practice continues to be a 14-day quarantine period, but a shortened period of 10 days without testing or 7 days with a negative test collected at 5 to 7 days is sufficient in some cases where risk of transmission is low or moderate.

COVID Data

 For March 26, 2021:

  • 4,339 new positive cases for a total of 781,777 confirmed cases
  • 28 new confirmed deaths for a total of 21,823 confirmed deaths
  • The rate of transmission is at 1.10
  • 947 cases linked to 205 school outbreaks since August 2020
  • 3,798,523 vaccine doses have been administered, including 2,515,767 first doses and 1,357,829 second doses. 48% have been Moderna, 50% Pfizer, and 2% J&J. 

Vaccine Information

The Governor announced that beginning April 5 New Jersey will expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to people ages 55 older, people 16 and older if they have intellectual or developmental disabilities, sanitation workers, utility workers, librarians, library support staff, higher education educators and support staff, communications, IT, press, real estate, building, home service workers, retail financial institution workers, and laundry service workers. Effective May 1 anyone over the age of 16 will be eligible for a vaccine.

In addition, the Governor announced in partnership with the Biden Administration the planned opening of a pilot FEMA Community Vaccination Center located at the Naimoli Family Athletic & Recreation Facility at NJIT in Newark. The site will have the capacity to vaccinate 6,000 individuals per day, seven days a week. The vaccines will be provided directly from the federal government, above and beyond the state’s regular allocation.

CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid continue to reserve appointments for/prioritizing educators and childcare workers. The State has also set aside a minimum of 10,000 doses each week for seniors aged 65 and older with Walmart. The State’s call center has been reaching out to seniors on the waiting list to help them make an appointment.

The State hotline 855-568-0545 continues to assist residents, with live agents from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., in getting information on how to register, as well as how to schedule vaccine appointments as people become eligible. The agents remind residents that there is no out-of-pocket expense to get vaccinated and that the two vaccines are not interchangeable.

The State continues to encourage the general public to pre-register for eligibility for the vaccine online. Individuals will be permitted to input their personal, contact, health insurance, and demographic information. Those who are immediately eligible based on screening questions will be able to schedule an appointment.

Executive Orders

Executive Order 233: Providing that all stimulus payments issued to New Jersey residents under the American Rescue Plan Act are exempt from, and will not be subject to, garnishment by private creditors and debt collectors. The exemption does not apply to garnishment in connection with any action for, or any judgment awarding, any child support, spousal support, or family support, or any criminal restitution payable to victims. 

 
School Opening

The Department of Health released its revised guidance for local health departments for k-12 operations. If masking and frequent hand-washing can be maintained by students, educators, and support staff in the classroom, then full-time in-person instruction can begin with distance between students within that classroom. For elementary grade levels across all levels of community transmission risk and for middle and high school grades at low and moderate risk levels the distance is three feet. For middle and high school grades in communities where the rate of transmission is high the distance is six feet to the maximum extent practicable. The guidance reiterates that for all schools regardless of grade or risk factor, six feet of distance is critical in indoor common areas when masking is not an option such as when students are eating and drinking in the school cafeteria.

Local health departments should continue to use the COVID-19 Regional Risk Matrix, the CALI scores, when providing guidance for schools on actions they should take based on the level of COVID-19 risk in their region.

Students and staff, unless fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, should stay home if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 within the past 14 days. If someone in their household is being tested for COVID-19 due to illness, they should also stay home until the test result is received unless they are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic. Teachers and staff who have been fully vaccinated should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least six feet away from others while in the community, avoiding crowds, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing your hands often.

To reduce risk of transmission in schools, it is recommended that schools work to improve air flow to the extent possible to increase circulation of outdoor air by opening windows and doors when appropriate without posing any health, safety, or security risks, or using child safe fans and exhaust fans, and also consider having activities such as classes or lunches outdoors when the circumstances allow.

Unemployment Information

The Department of Labor announced for the week ending March 20 the initial weekly unemployment claims increased by approximately 200 to 10,441.

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