Gov. Phil Murphy rescind the prohibition on outdoor interstate youth competitions starting March 19.
“As the weather begins to warm up and with outdoor sports seasons looking to begin, I am pleased that we are able to take this step,” said Murphy at a press briefing March 17 in announcing the lifting of the ban in effect since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. “This has been a challenging year, and I am excited to know that our young athletes will soon be competing out on the field.”
The order mandates all persons in attendance at youth sports competitions must follow all health and safety protocols for sports activities, which require attendees to wear masks and social distance, and athletes to wear masks when not engaged in activity. Attendees will be limited to players, coaches, and officials, and up to two parents or guardians per participating athlete. No additional spectators or attendees will be allowed.
The prohibition on interstate indoor sports competitions remains in effect. The rules for indoor sports—which have the same guidelines as the outdoor sports—for games played by New Jersey teams against each other are unchanged.
Murphy caution that even though the state was lifting the ban, “we continue to highly discourage any long-distance travel.”
The move is the latest by the governor to reopen the state. On the same day travel teams can leave the state to compete, New Jersey restaurants and bars, recreational and amusement businesses, gyms and fitness clubs and personal care businesses will increase indoor capacity to 50%.
State Reopening Continues
Additionally, indoor gatherings will rise to 25 individuals from its current 10 person limit; outdoor gatherings will be capped at 50 individuals, up from 25. The capacity limits do not apply to religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services or performances as they were raised on Feb. 22 to 50% capacity of the room in which they are held, with no cap on the number of individuals permitted to attend.
“We’re taking steps to open up some things responsibly, whether it’s indoor dining and indoor activities or outdoor interstate sports, acknowledging not just the physical health challenges, but the mental health challenges, especially for our kids,” said Murphy.
Previously, indoor and outdoor collegiate sports practices and games were opened to allow two parents per participating athlete as spectators in late February. The numbers are capped at 35% of the indoor room’s capacity and social distancing can be maintained outdoors. On March 1, sports and entertainment venues were allowed to operate for fixed-seating capacity of over 5,000 people with a 10% capacity for indoor venues and 15% capacity for outdoor venues.
Emergency Powers Extend
Additionally, the governor extended the public health emergency for another month. Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days unless renewed.
Murphy emphasizes the order is needed to allow the New Jersey Department of Health’s ability to regulate the distribution of the vaccine.
“Failing to extend the public health emergency would threaten our vaccination effort, just as we expect our vaccine supply to exponentially increase over the next few weeks,” he said. “The faster we can get more New Jersey residents vaccinated, the faster we can end this pandemic and get back to normal.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 3,224,470 as of March 18. Of those who have received the vaccine, 2,145,952 residents have received their first dose with 1,077,794 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose; 50% have been administered the Moderna vaccine, 48% the Pfizer vaccine and 2% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Demographically, 57% of those vaccinated are women and 43% men. As for ethnicity, 59% are White, 11% unknown, 11% other, 7% Asian, 7% Hispanic and 5% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 42% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 23% are between the ages of 40-49, and 8% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 371,199 doses, Essex 251,024 doses, Morris 235,539 doses, Hudson 159,934 doses, Passaic 145,372 doses, Sussex 51,204 doses, and Warren 33,812 doses.
As of March 18, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 754,817 with 3,830 total new PCR cases reported. There were 976 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 98,532. The total number of individual cases for the state is 853,349. Gov. Murphy previously 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 31 new deaths, bringing that total to 21,561. The state listed probable deaths at 2,515, bringing the overall total to 24,076. State officials noted 27 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on March 17, Bergen had a total of 483 new confirmed cases and 112 probable cases, Essex 362 new cases and 92 probable cases, Hudson 377 new cases and 79 probable cases, Morris 250 new cases and 60 probable cases, Passaic 212 new cases and 79 probable cases, Sussex 86 new cases and 25 probable cases, and Warren 51 cases and nine new probable cases.
State officials have identified a total of 209 coronavirus variant cases in New Jersey, including 20 in Hudson, 14 in Morris County, 12 in Essex County, eight in Passaic, five in Bergen, three in Warren, and three in Sussex.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,458, followed by Bergen at 2,394, Hudson with 1,875, Passaic at 1,564, Morris at 921, Sussex at 213 and Warren County at 199.
In regards to probable deaths reported March 17, Bergen has 288, Essex has 282, Morris has 238, Hudson has 197, Passaic has 189, Sussex has 65 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission, it increased to 1.06 from 1.05 for the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of March 13, was 11.9%; by region, the rate was 12.5% in the North, 12.5% in the Central region and 8.8% in the South.
Officials reported 1,966 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 990 in the North, 594 in the Central and 382 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 423 are in intensive care units and 235 on ventilators. A total of 239 patients were discharged, while 110 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospilizations, intensive care units, ventilators 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.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 75,020, followed by Middlesex at 72,637, Essex at 72,458, Hudson at 68,314, Monmouth at 56,796, Ocean at 56,211, Passaic at 55,440, Union at 52,172, Camden at 41,376, Morris at 35,525, Burlington at 32,721, Mercer at 27,628, Gloucester at 22,233, Atlantic at 21,079, Somerset at 20,304, Cumberland at 12,723, Sussex at 8,797, Warren at 7,012, Hunterdon at 6,953, Salem at 4,461, and Cape May at 3,928.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 10,024, followed by Union at 8,648, Ocean at 7,793, Essex at 7,083, Hudson at 6,595, Monmouth at 6,258, Morris at 6,219, Middlesex at 5,650, Atlantic at 5,515, Passaic at 5,459, Camden at 5,120, Burlington at 4,954, Somerset at 4,575, Cape May at 3,834, Gloucester at 3,303, Cumberland at 2,161, Mercer at 1,795, Sussex at 1,453, Warren at 769, Hunterdon at 676 and Salem 468.
Another 1,029 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 160 outbreaks involving 765 cases have been reported, with 28 new outbreaks accounting for 125 cases in the weekly update on March 17.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 42 confirmed outbreaks with 172 cases, Passaic County has 11 confirmed outbreaks with 40 cases, Sussex has eight confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, Warren has eight confirmed outbreaks with 20 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 245 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 9,682 of the cases, broken down between 4,605 residents and 5,077 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,292 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,423 residents and 21,309 staff, for a total of 53,732 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,963 on March 18. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,838 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.