While acknowledging the long lines that have frustrated residents and lawmakers in North Jersey, New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chief Administrator Sue Fulton sought to assure the public that the commission is effectively doing its job.
“We know during this pandemic, it’s been very difficult. The lines have been awful. I’ve been out there, I’ve heard the complaints,” said Fulton at a press briefing with Gov. Phil Murphy Sept. 11. “But our folks have been working tirelessly to implement new systems, process transactions faster than before and to keep everyone safe.”
“We know that a lot of these places are really overcrowded. There are several of our northern agencies that are just swamped and it’s very difficult.”
Fulton pointed out since Tropical Storm Isaias’ power outages shut us down for several days, MVC’s numbers are outperforming the 2019 average 240,000 transactions per week.
Additionally average waits for road tests, driver knowledge tests, commercial driver license testing and inspections are all down to pre-COVID-19 levels.
“In the last six weeks, we’ve done 250,000; 257,000; 285,000; and 272,000 respectively,” said the MVC head. “In fact, first available dates for new driver road tests, CDL tests and knowledge tests are either one day or two days.”
“We are on the right track,” declared Fulton.
Transactions that still need to be done in-person are new licenses, out-of-state transfers, commercial driver licenses that are federally regulated, and private sales of used cars.
“These transactions require us to examine the documents and confirm people’s identity to prevent fraud. We can’t compromise the safety of your personal information,” said Fulton. “That said, we’re very conscious these lines are still too long. They’re too long for people.”
Since March, the commission has added 20 vehicle transactions that can be done online services and expanded payment options. As a result, almost 70% of registration renewals and 55% of licenses were done at nj.mvc.gov since reopening compared with 40% and 20%, respectively the year before.
Gov. Murphy signed a bill Sept. 10 to give relief to New Jersey residents. This new law extends the validity of your photo for an additional four years so drivers now have to visit an office once every 12 years. For those 65 years or over, their photo is valid indefinitely so you can do that transaction online. Fulton estimates these two actions take roughly 220,000 people out of our licensing centers between now and the end of the year.
Another aspect of the bill requires MVC, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, to reserve one day per week or a certain time each day to offer appointments exclusively to senior citizens and customers due to a medical condition who cannot wear masks or face coverings.
“There’s great latitude in the bill for how we set that up. We’ll be rolling out a plan in the coming days,” said Fulton. “Right now we’re looking at setting special times whether it’s—this isn’t the final—but like Friday afternoon or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 4:00.
Fulton added “Where the situation is someone is immunocompromised, then we would do courtesy appointments and find other ways to do that. We will roll out the plan and there will be time that you can come in and we will ensure that you get taken care of.”
As of Sept. 13, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 196,634 with 306 new cases and four new deaths, bringing that total to 14,242. The state probable death count increased to 1,789, bringing the overall total to 16,023.
Of the total confirmed deaths on Sept. 11 in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,892, followed by Bergen at 1,797, Hudson with 1,352, Passaic at 1,105, Morris at 686, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 243, Essex has 229, Hudson has 160, Morris at 145, Passaic at 143, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.
As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.06 from the Sept. 11’s 1.08. 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 444 patients are hospitalized. Of those hospitalized, 98 are in intensive care units and 37 on ventilators, while 29 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 21,966, followed by Essex at 20,657, Hudson at 20,371, Middlesex at 18,842, Passaic at 18,661, Union at 17,315, Ocean at 11,743, Monmouth at 11,190, Camden at 9,476, Mercer at 8,491, Morris at 7,628, Burlington at 6,716, Somerset at 5,558, Gloucester at 4,058, Atlantic at 3,887, Cumberland at 3,688, Sussex at 1,425, Warren at 1,418, Hunterdon at 1,256, Salem at 1,014 and Cape May at 963.
Another 311 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.