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Rep. Donald Payne Calls for Extension on CARES Act Fund Usage, Better Guidance for Schools

The deadline for using CARES Act funding looms large. Rather than having to return funds not used by Dec. 31, Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr., has written to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seeking to extend this deadline.

Testing programs, cleaning regimens and small business support are just a few reasons that Payne pointed to, as he requested the deadline extension. Now more than ever, the pandemic requires funding to keep our communities safe.

“The coronavirus has proven it is not going away soon and states need this money to combat it,” said Payne. “I know the CARES Act stimulus aid has been a vital lifeline for local governments nationwide and they need more time to use these funds.”

Cases Rising, Funding Can ‘t Run Out

Payne was joined by 10 members of Congress, all concerned about how their districts would suffer if unused funding must be returned.

“Extending the deadline for state and local governments to use CARES funding is a common-sense solution that would ensure that health, safety, and recovery programs are available during what is expected to be a season of increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” wrote the group.

Payne’s concerns about the impact of COVID-19 extend to the nation’s education systems

Protecting Schools

To provide school systems with guidance for managing during a health crisis, Payne introduced the Pandemic Planning and Response for Schools Act.

He explained that the bill would “require the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Education to create a public plan for the continuation of education during a public health emergency.”

Creating a plan that will provide guidance on how to continue student education during a public health crisis is currently lacking, and as a result has negatively impacted students and caused a lot of confusion.

Cites Lack of Leadership

“We have school districts across the country trying to figure out how to teach students and keep them safe during this public health crisis without any federal guidelines or standards,” said Payne. “We need a plan from the two federal agencies that handle public health and education to guide schools on what to do during such an emergency.”

If passed, Payne’s bill would require that this plan would be available to Congress, the States, and the public no later than 30 days after an emergency has been declared. It would include recommendations for in-class instruction or how to conduct online classes.

Daily Data

As of Nov. 27, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 326,473 with 4,100 total new cases reported and 19 new deaths, bringing that total to 15,113. The state listed probable deaths at 1,829, bringing the overall total to 16,942.

For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 535 new cases, Essex 331 new cases, Hudson 323 new cases, Passaic 292 new cases, Morris 175 new cases, Sussex 41 new cases and Warren 40 new cases. 

State officials noted 42 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 1,993, followed by Bergen at 1,872, Hudson with 1,413, Passaic at 1,167, Morris at 712, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 160.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 250, Essex has 233, Hudson has 159, Morris at 147, Passaic at 144, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 20 was 8.9%. 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. 

As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.18 from 1.24 over two days. 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 2,796 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,296 in the North, 882 in the Central and 618 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 559 are in intensive care units and 279 on ventilators, while 432 patients were discharged.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 34,478, followed by Bergen at 33,875, Hudson at 30,746, Middlesex at 29,602, Passaic at 29,148, Union at 27,709, Ocean at 21,303, Monmouth at 19,918, Camden at 18,378, Mercer at 13,414, Burlington at 13,217, Morris at 13,159, Somerset at 8,839, Gloucester at 8,711, Atlantic at 7,754, Cumberland at 4,999, Sussex at 2,475, Warren at 2,414, Hunterdon at 2,380, Cape May at 1,627 and Salem at 1,580.

Another 720 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 66 outbreaks involving 269 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with 10 new outbreaks involving 30 cases recorded. For North Jersey, Bergen County has eight confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Passaic County has two confirmed outbreaks with 19 cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 319 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,761 of the cases, broken down between 2,777 residents and 2,984 staff. 

Cumulatively, 995 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 26,622 residents and 15,526 staff, for a total of 42,148 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,281 on Nov. 25. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,925 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.

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