President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a Jersey Girl to run the COVID-19 testing program when he takes office next month.
Carole Johnson, New Jersey Department of Human Services commissioner, will depart the Murphy Administration Jan. 15, 2021 to join the Biden-Harris Administration’s White House COVID-19 response team.
Johnson has been tapped as the COVID-19 testing coordinator. In her new role, Johnson will coordinate the federal effort to expand COVID-19 testing and the use of testing for an effective public health response, with an emphasis on expanding and targeting testing for schools, nursing homes, other at-risk populations, and communities hardest hit by the pandemic.
“We’re sad to see her depart, but are excited that she’ll be taking a critical role serving President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris in the White House as our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Gov. Phil Murphy.
Additionally, the North Cape May native will chair the National Pandemic Testing Board, which will work to ensure equitable test allocation, identify bottlenecks, and overcome barriers to access.
Johnson is one of the three people selected by the incoming Biden Administration as it expands its White House COVID-19 Response team to coordinate vaccine, testing and supply chain strategy. She was named along with supply coordinator Tim Manning, the former deputy administrator of FEMA during the entirety of the Obama-Biden Administration, and vaccinations coordinator Bechara Choucair, currently senior vice president and chief health officer for Kaiser Permanente.
White House Return
The move is a return to the White House for Johnson. A member of Gov. Phil Murphy’s cabinet since his first day in office in 2018, she previously served for more than five years as the Domestic Policy Council public health lead in the Obama White House, including during the Ebola and Zika public health emergencies.
Johnson headed the Department of Human Services, the largest agency in New Jersey state government that provides healthcare and social services to millions of New Jerseyans.
“From day one, Carole Johnson has been one of our most valuable team members and a leading voice for serving New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents,” said Murphy. “For three years, she has skillfully and ably managed our largest agency in state government, overseeing Medicaid, food assistance, child care programs, and mental health and addiction services, among other responsibilities.”
Replacing Johnson in the Murphy cabinet will be Sarah Adelman, who currently serves as deputy commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Human Services, overseeing the Divisions of Developmental Disabilities, Aging Services, and Medical Assistance and Health Services, which operates the Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare program.
As of Dec. 30, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 472,264 with 4,664 total new cases reported and 99 new deaths, bringing that total to 16,931. The state listed probable deaths at 2,021, bringing the overall total to 18,777.
For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 413 new cases, Essex 350 new cases, Hudson 318 new cases, Passaic 235 new cases, Morris 209 new cases, Sussex 64 new cases and Warren 42 cases.
State officials noted 66 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 2,135, followed by Bergen at 2,049, Hudson with 1,527, Passaic at 1,294, Morris at 779, Sussex at 172 and Warren County at 170.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 263, Essex has 250, Hudson has 168, Morris at 175, Passaic at 157, Sussex has 43 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Dec. 26 was 15.2%; by region, the rate was 14.2% in the North, 15.1% in the Central region and 14.6% in the South. 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 remained unchanged at 0.95 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 3,727 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,643 in the North, 1,238 in the Central and 846 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 701 are in intensive care units and 467 on ventilators. While 437 patients were discharged, 428 were admitted.
Essex Tops County Count
Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 46,763, followed by Bergen at 46,563, Middlesex at 44,328, Hudson at 43,244, Passaic at 39,651, Union at 36,270, Ocean at 32,005, Monmouth at 31,379, Camden at 28,297, Burlington at 20,963, Morris at 19,959, Mercer at 18,580, Gloucester at 13,965, Somerset at 12,505, Atlantic at 12,045, Cumberland at 7,718, Sussex at 4,385, Hunterdon at 3,692, Cape May at 2,359, Warren at 3,874 and Salem at 2,677.
Another 1,042 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 105 outbreaks involving 546 cases have been reported in 20 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with three new outbreaks involving 87 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has 21 confirmed outbreaks with 99 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Warren and Sussex counties both having four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 83 cases. Morris is the only county in the state without an outbreak.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 426 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 11,521 of the cases, broken down between 5,460 residents and 6,061 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,155 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 29,606 residents and 18,898 staff, for a total of 48,504 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,505 on Dec. 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,306 residents deaths and 125 staff deaths.