Exemptions for Support Groups Sought by State Sen. Corrado, Bucco Approved

Two North Jersey lawmakers call to carve out COVID-19 exemptions for support groups was enacted by Gov. Phil Murphy.

In the latest round of restriction to lower gathering limits, the governor’s executive order stated indoor meetings of addiction groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are not limited to 10 individuals, but will instead be limited to 25% of the capacity of the room in which they take place, up to a maximum of 150 individuals.

Its a provision GOP State Sens. Kristin Corrado and Anthony Bucco had been advocating for, urging the governor to ensure that alcohol and narcotics support group meetings be allowed to continue in person regardless of any additional limitations on gatherings that might be imposed.

Raising Limits

“This sensible decision will help save lives, especially now, with increased stress levels during the pandemic and holiday season,” said Corrado (R-40). “We expressed our concerns to the Governor about the risks of preventing individuals from getting access to the help they desperately need, and I am glad we were able to persuade him to make this change.”

After Murphy issued an executive order lowering indoor gatherings to 10 people on Nov. 16, Corrado and Bucco urged the Governor to protect the 12-step-style meetings at that time.

“We asked the Governor to reconsider the limits for the sake of the recovering community and the many families impacted by alcohol and narcotics,” said Bucco (R-25). “We anticipated the new restrictions coming and we fought to ensure the guidelines would preserve these crucial meetings. We are glad that the Governor addressed our concerns, and that is good news to many New Jersey residents.”

Substance Abuse Increase

Bucco noted in an earlier correspondence with the governor that while support available at these groups have been life saving for many individuals, connections and productive breakthroughs that occur in person cannot be duplicated on a Zoom session.

On the heels of the return of in-person recovery meetings, Bucco noted that organizations were expecting a significant increase in attendance. 

“In discussions with a substance abuse counselor in Morris County who is involved with the reopening of meetings in our area, he related the frustrations of many hundreds of local men and women desperately seeking the help provided by in-person meetings and his fear of having them turned away at the door because of the 25-person ceiling,” said Bucco.

Daily Data

As of Dec. 7, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 371,579 with 3,573 total new cases reported and 17 new deaths, bringing that total to 15,550. The state listed probable deaths at 1,836, bringing the overall total to 17,386.

For North Jersey counties, Passaic had a total of 408 new cases, Bergen 329 new cases, Essex 313 new cases, Hudson 265 new cases, Morris 176 new cases, Warren 38 new cases and Sussex 34 new cases.

State officials noted 55 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 2,028, followed by Bergen at 1,913, Hudson with 1,451, Passaic at 1,194, Morris at 723, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 161.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 252, Essex has 233, Hudson has 159, Morris at 148, Passaic at 144, Sussex has 38 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 28 was 11.4% on about 38,000 tests. 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 1.05 from 1.03 the day 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 3,346 patients were hospitalized—with 3,110 confirmed cases and 236 under investigation. By region, there were 1,556 in the North, 1,048 in the Central and 742 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 637 are in intensive care units and 391 on ventilators, while 269 patients were discharged compared with 417 new hospitalizations.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 38,574, followed by Bergen at 38,227, Hudson at 34,661, Middlesex at 33,834, Passaic at 33,174, Union at 30,390, Ocean at 24,277, Monmouth at 23,076, Camden at 21,793, Burlington at 15,547, Morris at 15,159, Mercer at 15,069, Gloucester at 10,355, Somerset at 9,909, Atlantic at 8,866, Cumberland at 5,619, Sussex at 2,984, Warren at 2,807, Hunterdon at 2,765, Salem at 1,866 and Cape May at 1,808.

Another 869 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 70 outbreaks involving 285 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with four new outbreaks involving 16 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has nine confirmed outbreaks with 24 cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven 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 377 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 7,347 of the cases, broken down between 3,392 residents and 3,955 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,068 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 27,416 residents and 16,616 staff, for a total of 44,032 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,337 on Dec. 7. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,006 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.

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