Gov. Phil Murphy expressed optimism that the recent actions of his administration to reopen the state will continue as coronavirus-related health metrics improve—including allowing in-person voting in April and May.
The governor announced the scheduled school and fire district elections on April 20 as well as the municipal nonpartisan elections scheduled for May 11 will be conducted in person. In 2020, the state’s Spring elections and delayed primary were all-mail while the November election was a combination with all residents receiving a mail-in ballot. All in-person polling places will continue to adhere to proper health and safety protocols including face coverings, social distancing, and frequent sanitation.
“We are able to take this step as our COVID numbers are headed—I emphasize headed—in the right direction and we are optimistic that these trends will continue, especially as more residents get vaccinated and the weather becomes warmer,” Murphy stated at a press briefing Feb. 8. “If these trends continue, and continuing these trends rests entirely with not just us, but all of us—it’s in our hands—we can again look to additional steps to further reopen our economy.”
Daily Numbers Declining
“The number of new cases, both in terms of raw numbers and the rate of transmission, while still high, are far off the peaks we saw just several weeks ago,” he said. “The numbers in our hospitals, in our ICUs and on ventilators are all off their peaks. Importantly, we’re seeing a lot of days…where the numbers of folks leaving is either greater than the numbers coming in or about equal.”
In announcing the decision to open polling places, Murphy said he expects the June primary to be in-person as well.
“This is very different (from) the situation we confronted last Summer, when we had to make a decision on the November election, knowing that our models showed a huge surge of COVID cases in the Fall, which unfortunately, came to pass,” explained Murphy. “While we are not making a decision on the June primary elections at this point, we are optimistic that we’ll be able to conduct in-person voting in June as well.”
Increased In-person Instruction
Another positive development the first-term Democratic governor highlighted is the continued trend of school’s incorporating more in-person instruction for students.
Of the 811 school districts in New Jersey, there are now 95 districts open for full in-person instruction, an increase by six in the last week and nearly 20 since Winter break ended. Another 21 districts began utilizing a hybrid model of learning in the last seven days that involves some students in their classroom at some point during the day; in all, 491 districts employ hybrid learning.
“The trend is going steadily in the direction of in-person instruction, at least in some form, which further supports our work toward making more educators eligible for vaccinations beyond those who are currently eligible either because of age or health conditions,” said Murphy.
And the governor noted that the move to increase indoor dining capacity to 35% is paying dividends for local restaurants.
“We’re already hearing from many restaurants, owners and managers about how this step is going to give them a boost for getting through the Winter,” he said. “I want to allow them to open even more. If the numbers continue to improve over time, we can responsibly do so.”
Murphy said with the good news of key health metrics related to the coronavirus headed in the right direction, the curve starting to come down again and over a million doses of the vaccine administered in the state, residents have better days to look forward to.
“Every day over the past several weeks, we have been stepping further and further away from that danger point,” said Murphy. “Ensuring the stability of our hospitals has far and away been the most pressing reason behind the steps we’ve taken, even more than the number of new cases. We simply could not allow our hospitals to get to a point where they were overloaded and unable to care for everyone.”
On Feb. 9, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 650,263 with 3,164 total new PCR cases reported. There were 707 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 78,041. The total number of individual cases for the state is 728,304. 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 92 new deaths, bringing that total to 19,916. The state listed probable deaths at 2,187, bringing the overall total to 22,103. State officials noted 33 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Feb. 9, Bergen had a total of 317 new confirmed cases and 88 probable cases, Essex 238 new cases and 36 probable cases, Hudson 264 new cases and 41 probable cases, Morris 192 new cases and and 25 probable cases, Passaic 151 new cases and 49 probable cases, Sussex 35 new cases and eight probable cases, and Warren 26 cases and seven probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,319, followed by Bergen at 2,248, Hudson with 1,735, Passaic at 1,461, Morris at 867, Sussex at 205 and Warren County at 189.
In regards to probable deaths reported Feb. 3, Bergen has 273, Essex has 257, Morris at 216, Hudson has 173, Passaic at 163, Sussex has 57 and Warren has 16.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Feb. 4, was 8.5%; by region, the rate was 8.4% in the North, 8.7% in the Central region and 8.3% 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 0.83 from 0.85 the previous day. 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 2,827 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 1,303 in the North, 891 in the Central and 633 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 544 are in intensive care units and 360 on ventilators. A total of 166 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 63,050, followed by Middlesex at 62,670, Essex at 62,365, Hudson at 58,814, Passaic at 48,938, Ocean at 47,506, Monmouth at 46,993, Union at 45,929, Camden at 37,434, Morris at 29,255, Burlington at 29,120, Mercer at 24,567, Gloucester at 19,820, Atlantic at 18,250, Somerset at 17,149, Cumberland at 11,254, Sussex at 7,267, Warren at 5,788, Hunterdon at 5,677, Salem at 4,017, and Cape May at 3,389.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 7,476, followed by Union at 6,990, Ocean at 5,772, Essex at 5,528, Morris at 4,954, Hudson at 4,922, Monmouth at 4,700, Atlantic at 4,662, Middlesex at 4,487, Passaic at 4,250, Camden at 4,204, Burlington at 3,936, Somerset at 3,768, Cape May at 3,174, Gloucester at 2,900, Cumberland at 2,118, Mercer at 1,457, Sussex at 1,012, Warren at 668, Hunterdon at 575, and Salem 441.
Another 1,011 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 137 outbreaks involving 655 cases, with six new outbreaks accounting for 58 cases reported in the weekly update on Feb. 3, have been reported in all 21 counties in the Garden State.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 126 cases, Passaic County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Sussex has six confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases, Warren has five confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases, Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases and Morris County has two confirmed outbreaks with 10 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 408 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 14,134 of the cases, broken down between 6,958 residents and 7,176 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,235 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 31,918 residents and 20,617 staff, for a total of 52,535 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,826 on Feb. 9. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,742 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 1,085,595 as of Feb. 9. Of those who have received the vaccine, 842,971 residents have received their first dose with 242,362 their second; 55% have been administered the Moderna vaccine and 45% the Pfizer.
Demographically, 60% of those vaccinated are women and 40% men. As for ethnicity, 50% are White, 18% unknown, 18% other, 6% Asian, 5% Hispanic and 3% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 36% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 26% are between the ages of 40-49, and 9% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 120,724 doses, Essex 83,236 doses, Hudson 49,180 doses, Morris 79,202 doses, Passaic 51,037 doses, Sussex 17,043 doses, and Warren 10,304 doses.