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New Jersey to Keep Daycare Facilities Open

The expected surge of COVID-19 cases has begun in New Jersey.

As of March 18, the number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey climbed to 427, with 162 new cases announced by the state. Two new deaths were reported, bringing that total to five. 

The victims were both women over 60 years old and had underlying conditions, Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli said. One is from Essex County, the other from Hudson County.

The numbers by county, with 17 of 21 counties now reporting cases, was led by Bergen at 114, followed by Essex at 45, Middlesex at 40, Hudson at 34, Monmouth at 22, Union at 26, Morris at 19. Passaic at 18, Somerset at 16, Mercer at 15, Burlington at 10, Camden and Ocean counties at eight, Hunterdon at six, Atlantic at three and Gloucester at two.

Help for Daycares

On the first day all schools in the state were closed, Gov. Phil Murphy said day care facilities will remain open in the state and receive funding to remain so.

“We need everyone who is part of our frontline army to be able to get to work so we can beat back the threat of coronavirus together,” Murphy said. 

The measures include waiving some co-payments for those who qualify for child care subsidies and giving extra money to subsidy-eligible day care centers that remain open in the state.

Murphy says he hasn’t shuttered them because some essential workers—such as first responders and health-care employees—need help caring for their children.

Measures Offered

Other measures being offered include continue to pay child care providers required to close by the health department, school district, or county executive due to COVID-19; ensure centers commit to cleaning and disinfecting at the highest levels; waive child care subsidy co-payments for parents who request it because their work has been impacted by the outbreak; day care providers who remain open will receive $100 per child each month, in addition to the state reimbursement rate in place and pay providers who remain open even if children are absent due to COVID-19.

Another resource activated was NJ 201. The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey Department of Health, and the United Ways of New Jersey will used the hotline to help handle COVID-19 related calls from New Jersey residents.

All residents with questions or concerns about COVID-19 and resources available to them can call 2-1-1. NJ 211 is New Jersey’s statewide, comprehensive, information and referral service operated by United Ways of New Jersey.

Residents call also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information and stay informed. To receive live text assistance, residents can text their zip code to 898-211.

Testing Centers

The first widespread coronavirus testing site will open March 20 at Bergen County Community College in Paramus, helped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The center will have the ability to collect 2,500 specimens a week, with actual testing will be done at laboratories elsewhere, according to state officials. 

The site will initially collect specimens only for people showing symptoms of the virus, with testing for health-care workers and first responders being the first priority.

Labs Operating

The state’s laboratories have been running tests, as have numerous hospitals including Hackensack Meridian Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center and private companies administered testing.

Passaic County plans to set up a coronavirus testing pod at William Paterson University. The planned hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The county is working to open the testing center as soon as possible, but doesn’t have a specific date yet. 

The testing will only be available to residents after they have obtained an electronic referral from their doctor. There are currently two drive-thru centers in Secaucus

Pennsylvania Onboard

Additionally, Pennsylvania will join the New Jersey, New York and Connecticut coalition to implement a regional approach to combating COVID-19

Pennsylvania will join the restrictions instituted by the other three states, with indoor portions of retail shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys in the four states closing by 8 pm March 19—an expansion of the guidance that the three governors from the tri-state area issued Monday.

The guidance issued earlier limits crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people, closed movie theaters, gyms and casinos and mandated restaurants and bars to  move to take-out and delivery services only. 

“Given the population density of the Northeast, a coordinated response effort to encourage social distancing benefits all of our residents and strengthens our greater regional preparedness,” Murphy said. “By working together to identify and enact these measures, we can potentially slow the spread of coronavirus and save thousands of lives.”, 

Mass Suspended

Adhering to the aggressive social distancing New Jersey has urged, the Newark Archdiocese, suspended all public celebrations of daily and Sunday Mass will be suspended until further notice. 

This decision is an extension of the Archdiocese’s recent announcement to dispense Catholics from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. 

“This decision comes after exhaustive discussion and with an especially heavy heart,” said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin. “It is critical that all comply with this directive to protect the health of all throughout the archdiocese and beyond.”

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