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Gov. Phil Murphy Sees Parents in High School Stands This Winter—If COVID-19 Numbers Keep Improving

As schools in New Jersey continue to increase in-school learning, Gov. Phil Murphy figuratively opened the door to allowing parents to watch their children play high school sports in person.

When questioned with the opening of high school basketball season Jan. 26 if there was any chance that parents will be allowed to attend games before the season ends on March 6, Murphy said “The answer to your question about allowing some amount of folks in to watch the games if the numbers continue to get better, I think the answer to that is yes.” 

The governor stressed that this was not signaling a formal position but revealed that he has had informal discussions with New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli on the subject.

Personal Connection

“I would certainly think whatever we did, whenever we did it, it would prioritize (High School) Senior families, I would think, without having spent a lot of time talking to Judy about it,” he said at his press briefing Jan. 26. 

Murphy noted he is personally affected by the restrictions but would not offer a timeline when spectators will be allowed back into gyms and arenas.  

“I’ve got a son right now who plays sports, I mentioned all three of them are on an indoor team and I can’t go to their games and that stinks for me—I have to say, so I completely get it,” he said. “We just can’t say when.” 

Keep Wearing Masks

The governor did not offer any insight to attendance at youth sports during his press briefing. But in order to get families to watch their kids play, Murphy reminded New Jerseyans the key health metrics need to keep declining as they have over the last week and the protocols in place have to be maintained. 

“I think the key thing, folks, if…you’ve got a daughter or son who plays an indoor high school sport, the one thing you could do right now is to make sure everybody in your life—your family, your friends, your neighbors—is wearing (a mask) to help us continue to drive the numbers down,” he stated. “And if we do that, the chances go up meaningfully that we’ll be able to take a step.”

The statements by Murphy follows the continuing increase of school districts across the state adding in-school instruction. 

More In-School Instructio

As of this Jan, 25, 86 schools are now open for full in-person instruction, up six from the previous week. A total of 414 schools or districts are offering a hybrid of in-person and remote instruction, an increase of 36 from the week before. 

The number of schools using all-remote learning declined to 270, down 55 from a week earlier, while 41 districts are currently implementing a mix of all-remote, in-person or hybrid learning across buildings, a decline of five from the same time a week before.

“It started as we predicted, more remote, and then got more hybrid in particular,” said Murphy. “It then went back to more remote as the second wave really started a surge and you’re now starting to see there’s now a swing back from remote to hybrid.”

Daily Data

On Jan. 26,  the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 602,660 with 4,117 total new PCR cases reported. There were 529 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 69,067. The total number of individual cases for the state is 671,727. Gov. Murphy noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.

As for those that have passed, the state reported 133 new deaths, bringing that total to 18,984. The state listed probable deaths at 2,121, bringing the overall total to 21,105. State officials noted 53 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 392 new confirmed cases and 109 probable cases, Essex 286 new cases and 66 probable cases, Hudson 339 new cases and 54 probable cases, Morris 305 new cases and and 36 probable cases, Passaic 198 new cases and 39 probable cases, Sussex 63 new cases and eight probable cases, and Warren 40 cases and three probable cases.

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,257, followed by Bergen at 2,182, Hudson with 1,669, Passaic at 1,414, Morris at 836, Sussex at 198 and Warren County at 182.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 268, Essex has 260, Morris at 202, Hudson has 172, Passaic at 160, Sussex has 53 and Warren has 15.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Jan. 21, was 9.6%; by region, the rate was 9.1% in the North, 9.6% in the Central region and 10.9% 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 decreased to 0.92 from 0.94 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 3,251 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,387 in the North, 1,075 in the Central and 789 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 572 are in intensive care units and 404 on ventilators. A total of 236 patients were discharged, while 233 were admitted.

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 58,206, followed by Essex at 57,750, Middlesex at 57,565, Hudson at 54,914, Passaic at 46,045, Union at 43,581, Monmouth at 43,006, Ocean at 42,967, Camden at 35,473, Burlington at 27,114, Morris at 26,502, Mercer at 23,029, Gloucester at 18,511, Atlantic at 16,614, Somerset at 15,810, Cumberland at 10,420, Sussex at 6,637, Warren at 5,257, Hunterdon at 5,147, Salem at 3,786, and Cape May at 3,105.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 6,642, followed by Union at 6,327, Ocean at 5,005, Essex at 4,843, Hudson at 4,439, Morris at 4,185, Atlantic at 4,128, Monmouth at 4,077, Middlesex at 3,973, Passaic at 3,862, Camden at 3,693, Somerset at 3,447, Burlington at 3,319, Cape May at 2,858, Gloucester at 2,589, Cumberland at 1,980, Mercer at 1,227, Sussex at 881, Warren at 568, Hunterdon at 521, and Salem 401.

Another 1,221 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 121 outbreaks involving 597 cases, with 10 new outbreaks accounting for 23 cases reported in the weekly update, have been reported in all 21 counties in the Garden State. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 26 confirmed outbreaks with 115 cases, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreaks with 25 cases, Sussex has five confirmed outbreaks with 13 cases, Warren has five confirmed outbreaks with 11 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases, Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 91 cases and Morris County has one confirmed outbreaks with five cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 436 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 15,346 of the cases, broken down between 7,369 residents and 7,977 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,222 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,067 residents and 21,255 staff, for a total of 53,322 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,725 on Jan. 26. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,683 residents deaths and 142 staff deaths.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 605,397 as of Jan. 26. Of those who have received the vaccine, 523,008 residents have received their first dose with 81,097 their second; 54% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 46% the Pfizer. 

Demographically, 61% of those vaccinated are women and 39% men. As for ethnicity, 48% are White, 20% unknown, 19% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 3% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 31% are 65 years old or olders, 30% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 40-49, and 10% are between the ages of 18-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 65,959 doses, Essex 47,279 doses, Hudson 27,618 doses, Morris 44,361 doses, Passaic 28,734 doses, Sussex 9,738 doses, and Warren 6,092 doses. 

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