New Jersey Issues New Guidelines for Disabled Residents at Long-Term Care Facilities

The New Jersey Department of Health released a directive allowing visits by appointment for pediatric, developmentally disabled and intellectually disabled residents of long-term care facilities.

To begin, only parents and guardians are allowed to visit inside the facilities, according to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli at a press briefing July 15, a move she characterized as being “a critical step for the mental, physical, and emotional well-being” of residents.

The new guideline will be used at the four pediatric long-term care facilities in New Jersey and the over 500 adults with developmental disabilities currently living in nursing homes.

Inside Visits

Outside visitations, permitted since June 21 at long-term care facilities, will continue while indoor visitations will now be permissible if a facility has had no new probable or confirmed coronavirus cases recorded in a 28-day period.

“When it comes to some of our state’s most-vulnerable residents, we have had to take extra precautions to save lives,” Gov. Phil Murphy stated. “With these guidelines in place, and with the proper safety protocols in place within these facilities.”

Among the protocols being put into place are, visitors:

  • Will be screened for symptoms before entering the facility and are to follow mask and hygiene mandates;
  • Visits are restricted to certain areas to minimize exposure to other residents; 
  • Facilities must have their own written guidelines in place before any visitation;
  • Visits aren’t permitted to any residents that has COVID-19 symptoms or had any recent exposure to the virus;
  • Visitors must sign an informed consent letter, acknowledging the parents or guardians understand the risks involved; and 
  • As part of the consent form, visitors agree to notify the facility if they’ve tested positive or have any symptoms within 14 days of visiting.

Reuniting Families

Persichilli acknowledged the sepatrions has been a “stressful and heartbreaking” time for families and the residents, who have not been able to visit each other for more than three months.  

“Given how medically fragile the pediatric population that resides in long-term care facilities are, we have been focused on putting together guidance that not only safeguards the health of these individuals, but includes the very latest we are learning day-by-day about this virus,” said the commissioner.

Daily Data

As of July 15, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 176,278 with 396 new cases and 27 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,660. The state probable death count remained at 1,947, bringing the overall total to 15,607.

Persichilli noted deaths of the 27 deaths reported, 17 were from the month of July—eight of which were from the previous day.  

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,830, followed by Bergen at 1,761, Hudson with 1,309, Passaic at 1,069, Morris at 667, Sussex at 158 and Warren with 153.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 268, Essex has 255, Hudson has 185, Passaic 158, Morris 157, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 17.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of July 11 increased to 2.1%, down from 1.5% on July 9. 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 2.0%, the central at 2.0% and the south 2.7%. 

As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 0.93, compared with July 13’s 0.91. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.

Officials reported 923 patients are hospitalized with or are under investigation for having coronavirus while 83 patients were discharged. The north tier had 436 patients hospitalized, the central 265 and the south 221.

Of those hospitalized, 151 are in intensive care units and 78 on ventilators. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 19,927, followed by Hudson at 19,219, Essex at 19,100, Passaic at 17,127, Middlesex at 17,119, Union at 16,563, Ocean at 9,890, Monmouth at 9,605, Mercer at 7,815, Camden at 7,775, Morris at 6,926, Burlington at 5,419, Somerset at 5,057, Cumberland at 3,068, Atlantic at 3,060, Gloucester at 2,797, Warren at 1,267, Sussex at 1,236, Hunterdon at 1,098, Salem at 821 and Cape May at 744.

Another 645 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. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

A census of ages for 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 5% under the age of 49. 

State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn  test positive for COVID-19. No new cases were reported July 15, with the total remaining at 53 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Two 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, Persichilli reported the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 39% Hispanic, 34% Black, 16% White, 7% Asian and 5% other.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted currently 432 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 31,881 of the cases, broken down between 21,077 residents and 10,804 staff. 

Cumulative, 566 long-term care facilities have reported at least one case, infecting a total of 24,431 residents and 12,566 staff, combining for 36,997 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 6,754 on July 15. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,614 residents deaths and 119 staff deaths. 

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