New Jersey will distribute $37 million in federal money to counties initial ineligible for CARES Act money to combat the coronavirus.
The funding for 12 counties, including Morris, Sussex and Warren, will be made in three separate tranches under one Memorandum of Agreement, according to an announcement made by Gov. Phil Murphy and Rep. Josh Gottheimer at a press conference Aug. 20.
Murphy said the funding will help to save lives and make New Jersey stronger now and going forward in the work to fight the coronavirus.
“There is no denying that COVID-19 has placed an incredible amount of strain on resources across all levels of government,” said Murphy. “I’ve been clear from day one of this crisis that we’ll spare no expense to protect the health and safety of New Jerseyans, and that requires us to provide our communities with the support they need.”
Gottheimer noted that the agreement was struck through a great deal of cooperation from across the aisle and every region of the state to ensure local municipalities, families, businesses, first responders and frontline healthcare workers have the continued support they need.
“Since the beginning of this crisis, when North Jersey was in the eye of the COVID storm, I’ve been fighting to ensure that all of our counties, towns, and local governments get the federal resources they need to help them survive, recover and grow,” said the congressman. “The millions of new resources going to Sussex and Warren counties today are in addition to the hundreds of millions of CARES Act dollars that have already boosted each of the counties in New Jersey’s Fifth District.”
In March, when the CARES Act was passed, several of the counties did not immediately qualify for investment from one program due to what Gottheimer considers outdated federal Community Development Block Grant and Emergency Solutions Grant formulas set up under the Gerald Ford Administration. By his estimation, county and towns in the 5th Congressional District have received a total of $3 billion in federal investment from the bipartisan CARES Act, which includes monies for the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Impact Payments to residents in each individual county, federal unemployment support, and federal grants going to each individual county to their hospitals, non-profits, food banks, colleges, and technical schools.
The first portion of funding, approximately $15 million in total, provides counties with a reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses to date. This money represents 25% of the county cost share with FEMA paying the remaining 75%, along with other eligible Coronavirus Relief Fund expenses.
The second portion of funding will help counties stand up and maintain testing sites. All 12 counties will receive $357,500 for this purpose.
The final allotment is based on population size as each county will receive funds from the CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) for the Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases. The monies will support ongoing testing of vulnerable and high-risk populations. Counties will receive this funding only after submitting a testing plan and gaining approval of that plan by the state’s Department of Health. The sum total of this portion of funding is $17 million.
Morris Receives $7.1 Million
In a county breakdown, Morris County will receive a total of $7.1 million, Sussex $1.8 million and Warren $1.4 million. Besides the $357,000 each county receives, Morris will be reimbursed a total of $3.8 million and be allocated $2.9 million in ELC monies; Sussex will get a $612,000 reimbursement and $839,000 for ELC, while Warren will be provided $397,000 and $627,000 for reimbursement and ELC, respectively. The 12 counties were ineligible for originally ineligible due to their populations being below 500,000.
“That’s more than a million dollars to both Sussex and Warren Counties to help reimburse the costs they’ve taken on directly during the coronavirus pandemic, for testing, (personal protection equipment) and additional resources for our brave first responders and frontline public service workforce,” said Gottheimer. “These dollars will also go to maintaining testing sites to protect our communities in the months ahead. Hopefully, we won’t need them, but we must be prepared.”
For Rep. Mikie Sherrill, the fight against the coronavirus in New Jersey has required a partnership across all levels of government, with the funding reflecting a true collaborative effort.
Seeking More Aid
“Throughout this pandemic, Morris and Sussex Counties’ investment in a comprehensive coronavirus response has greatly benefited our communities,” said Sherrill in a press statement. “More needs to be done, and I remain focused on fighting in Congress for further direct support for our state, our counties, and our municipalities.”
State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25) echoed the sentiments about the bipartisan of the the state’s congressional delegation with local leaders.
“Today, our hard work paid off, with the governor announcing that $37 million of aid will be dedicated to support the coronavirus response efforts of these counties,” said Bucco.
As of Aug. 20, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 188,527 with 302 new cases and eight new deaths, bringing that total to 14,103. The state probable death count remained at 1,829, bringing the overall total to 15,932.
State officials noted 12 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,878, followed by Bergen at 1,790, Hudson with 1,343, Passaic at 1,097, Morris at 683, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 244, Essex has 234, Hudson has 166, Passaic and Morris at 147, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Aug. 12 was 2.2%. 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.
As for the rate of transmission, it was unchanged at 1.06. 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 433 patients hospitalized, with the northern tier having 210 patients hospitalized, the central 100 and the south 123.
Of those hospitalized, 79 are in intensive care units and 28 on ventilators, while 39 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 21,307, followed by Essex at 20,036, Hudson at 19,955, Middlesex at 18,168, Passaic at 18,039, Union at 16,921, Ocean at 10,826, Monmouth at 10,524, Camden at 8,882, Mercer at 8,225, Morris at 7,371, Burlington at 6,201, Somerset at 5,329, Atlantic at 3,632, Gloucester at 3,481, Cumberland at 3,454, Warren at 1,373, Sussex at 1,355, Hunterdon at 1,171, Salem at 941 and Cape May at 858.
Another 324 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
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 confirmed deaths shows 48% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 31% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 198 long-term care facilities currently are reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 13,516 of the cases, broken down between 8,590 residents and 4,926 staff.
Cumulatively, 634 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 24,676 residents and 13,106 staff, for a total of 37,782 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,038 on Aug. 20. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,698 residents deaths and 120 staff deaths.