Plan For Students to Return to New Jersey College Campuses Begins to Take Shape

State officials gave an overview of what higher learning institutions will need to do to open this summer and fall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

While mostly speaking in general terms, Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis said most institutions will likely reopen with some hybrid version of in-person and online learning,  allowing students and faculty with elevated health risks to learn and teach remotely.

“Colleges this summer and fall will not look the same as they did last year,” stated Smith Ellis at a press briefing on June 17.

Coronavirus Alterations

Among the changes that will greet students and faculty as they return to campus include requiring all students and staff to wear face masks indoors, observing six feet of social distancing, and sanitizing equipment.

Gov. Phil Murphy said the focus will be on safeguarding 10 areas of campus life: instruction, housing, computer labs, libraries, research and labs, student services, transportation, dining, study abroad and athletics.

Schools are to turn in their restart plans at least 14 days before the date they want to reopen their campuses in order to be reviewed by the state Department of Health. The detailed guideline of recommendations and requirements being sent to learning institutions is over 20 pages long, according to Smith Ellis.

Room Rules

There will not be a uniform capacity limit placed on students in classrooms due to them varying in size from campus to campus and building to building. But social distancing rules are to be enforced. 

“The practical realities of this are that it’s not going to be full capacity in any space,” she said.

Dining and other communal experiences on campus will be most affected. There will be plexiglass dividers at checkouts, no buffets, and likely spacing between students as they eat, while communal bathrooms will be cleaned more frequently.

Daily Data

As of June 17, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 167,708 with 330 new cases and 47 new deaths, bringing that total to 12,769. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,755, followed by Bergen at 1,681, Hudson with 1,257, Passaic at 1,007, Morris at 640, Sussex at 150 and Warren with 140. 

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of June 13 increased to 3.5%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 2.2%, the central at 4.1% and the south 5.3%.

Officials reported 1,352 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 64 new hospitalizations—while 92 patients were discharged. The north tier had 533 patients hospitalized, the central 448 and the south 331.

The daily discharge and new hospitalizations by tier for June 17 was the north charting 25 hospitalizations and 40 discharges, the central having 22 hospitalizations and 24 discharges, and the south reporting 17 hospitalizations and 28 discharges.   

Of those hospitalized, 358 are in intensive care units and 254 on ventilators. There are currently eight patients in field hospitals, with 476 treated overall. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 18,928, followed by Hudson at 18,755, Essex at 18,421, Passaic at 16,683, Middlesex at 16,513, Union at 16,315, Ocean at 9,306, Monmouth at 8,804, Mercer at 7,393, Camden at 7,047, Morris at 6,627, Burlington at 4,935, Somerset at 4,780, Cumberland at 2,745, Atlantic at 2,553, Gloucester at 2,428, Warren at 1,206, Sussex at 1,167, Hunterdon at 1,049, Salem at 723 and Cape May at 682.

Another 643 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state. 

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

A census of ages for 9,941 confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 4% under the age of 49. 

State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn  test positive for COVID-19. One new case was reported June 17, bringing the total in New Jersey to 43 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Five are currently hospitalized. No deaths have been reported from the disease. 

Persichilli stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 36% Hispanic, 33% Black, 19% White, 8% Asian and 3% other.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 555 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 35,437 of the cases, broken down between 23,576 residents and 11,861 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, which was 6,079 on June 17. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,346 residents deaths and 116 staff deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown:  

Bergen County

  • 63  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 3242 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1698 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 921  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 11  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Essex County

  • 46  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 2161 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1018 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 565  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 19  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Morris County

  • 42  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1409 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 692 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 466  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 3  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Passaic County

  • 25  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1265 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 750 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 369  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 14  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Hudson County 

  • 15  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 996 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 533 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 248  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 8  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Sussex County

  • 7  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 258 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 145 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 107  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 4  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Warren County 

  • 7  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 407 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 132 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 115  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 1  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

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