Recognizing the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the state’s public and private colleges and universities, Governor Phil Murphy and the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) are awarding $150 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to eligible higher education institutions.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted countless communities throughout the state, and the higher education community is no exception,” said Murphy in a press statement recently. “(The monies) will provide necessary funds to assist our students and institutions as they manage economic hardships for the upcoming school year.”
Funding can be used for expenses to include cleaning and disinfecting supplies, the transition to online learning, and support for testing, among other eligible costs.
“This unprecedented public health emergency has significantly impacted the higher education community in an incredibly unpredictable and rapidly-changing way,” said Interim Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez. “Through various federal funding streams, we continue supporting institutions as they navigate this uncertain time.”
The application process requires the institution to show OSHE how the funds will be used to cover eligible expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020.
“New Jersey colleges and universities have been severely impacted during this pandemic and are facing drastic budget shortfalls,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19). “They need this supportive funding to help with efforts to move forward this fall, afford supplies and take necessary measures to protect the students returning. We could not have imagined the impact of the virus on our campuses, but I’m glad we are able to provide some relief through the CARES Act funding.”
Institutional awards will be based on an OSHE-developed allocation rationale that incorporates priority student populations from the New Jersey State Higher Education Plan, Where Opportunity Meets Innovation: A Student-Centered Vision for New Jersey Higher Education.
Factors to be considered include an institution’s share of Pell recipients, underrepresented minorities, and overall student enrollments. The focus is on priority populations that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and support’s the state’s focus on an equitable restart of campus operations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This federal funding will help alleviate some of the burden put on schools by COVID-19, and help us keep students and staff safe,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27). “However, we must not forget that as long as the virus is among us, colleges will face unprecedented fiscal challenges. We’ll need continued assistance from the federal government to further help colleges address this crisis.”
More than 40 Institutions Eligible for Funding
A total of 46 institutes of higher learning will receive funding. Princeton University was eligible, but requested their allocation be redistributed to other institutions facing greater financial need.
Thirteen senior public universities will receive a total of $126.8 million in funding.
Eighteen community colleges will receive a total of $22.3 million in funding.
Fifteen independent non-profit colleges will receive a total of $1.0 million in funding.
“Our colleges and universities are facing immensely tough decisions and challenges in reopening, whether that be online or in person,” said State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-31), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “This funding will go a long way towards ensuring our institutions of higher education remain able to deliver the highest quality of education, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
As of Aug. 30, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 191,611 with 306 new cases and four new deaths, bringing that total to 14,157. The state probable death count remained at 1,780, bringing the overall total to 15,937.
State officials noted six 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 1,884, followed by Bergen at 1,790, Hudson with 1,347, Passaic at 1,103, Morris at 685, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 242, Essex has 229, Hudson has 160, Morris at 144, Passaic at 142, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Aug. 23 was 1.5%. 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.
As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 0.87 from 0.77 two days before. 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 480 patients are hospitalized, with the northern tier having 242 patients hospitalized, the central 104 and the south 134.
Of those hospitalized, 95 are in intensive care units and 28 on ventilators, while 65 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 21,557, followed by Essex at 20,301, Hudson at 20,131, Middlesex at 18,432, Passaic at 18,327, Union at 17,077, Ocean at 11,145, Monmouth at 10,710, Camden at 9,142, Mercer at 8,326, Morris at 7,474, Burlington at 6,382, Somerset at 5,400, Atlantic at 3,739, Gloucester at 3,668, Cumberland at 3,560, Warren at 1,392, Sussex at 1,394, Hunterdon at 1,212, Salem at 980 and Cape May at 898.
Another 364 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 170 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 10,855 of the cases, broken down between 6,799 residents and 4,056 staff.
Cumulatively, 652 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 24,914 residents and 13,292 staff, for a total of 38,206 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,081 on Aug. 28. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,749 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.