New Jersey Loosens Visitation, Group Activities Rules at Long-term Care Facilities

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) eased restrictions at long-term care facilities that will liberalize visitations, group activities and the provision of services for residents fully vaccinated on May 12. 

“With cases in New Jersey on the decline, vaccinations increasing and a reduction in outbreaks at these facilities, the department is taking steps to lessen restrictions for vaccinated residents and expanded services to residents in these facilities,” said NJDOH Commissioner Judith Persichilli at a press briefing May 12. “Our hope is that resuming these activities will help support the mental and physical well-being of residents.”

Persichilli said the updated guidance falls in line with those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

Hugging Now Allowed

The new rules allow during a visit when both the visitor and the resident are fully vaccinated, residents and their visitors can have close contact including touching and removing their facemasks if they are alone in the resident’s room or the designated visitation room. 

Fully vaccinated residents may choose to have close contact such as hugging with their unvaccinated visitor; however they both must wear a well-fitting face mask.

NJDOH updated guidance on communal activities and dining for residents fully vaccinated are permitted to participate in the group activity or communal dining without physical distancing and without wearing a mask during the activity.

Group Activities Expanded

“These are incredibly welcome changes and they reflect the reality that most residents of long-term care are fully vaccinated,” said Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman in a press statement. “Having the ability to participate in communal activities and meals with their peers is something that residents tell us that they have desperately missed.”

As for the required routine testing of residents and staff to prevent COVID-19 from entering and spreading within facilities, fully vaccinated staff are not required to be routinely tested, except that facilities may elect to continue routine testing of staff. Staff will need to undergo testing if there is an outbreak investigation at the facility or if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.

Persichilli urged staff and residents to get vaccinated by taking advantage of the current pharmacy partnerships delivering vaccines to nursing homes. State officials earlier this week noted the vaccination rates among staffers was lagging compared to residents

Hair Stylists Now Welcomed

Non-essential personnel such as barbers and hair stylists are permitted to enter only if the personnel are screened before entry, and the facility has a protocol for services to be delivered safely, which must include infection prevention and control precautions, physical distancing, hand hygiene cleaning between clients and use of a well-fitting face mask, according to Persichilli. Staff testing requirements apply to these individuals.

“You cannot underestimate how important it is to residents of long-term care facilities to have access to hairdressers and barbers. Everyone wants to look their best. This is great news,” said Facciarossa Brewer.

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 7,754,102 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 8,112,076 as of May 12. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,539,001 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 163,498 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 3,702,499. 

Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 54% are White, 12% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 7% Black, 8% unknown, and 9% other. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 33% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 27% are between the ages of 30-49, and 12% are between the ages of 16-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 859,470 doses (397,545 fully vaccinated), Essex 622,942 doses (278,515), Morris 520,873 doses (241,956), Hudson 531,647 doses (234,503), Passaic 379,496 doses (170,749), Sussex 119,011 doses (54,312), and Warren 75,806 doses (34,280). 

Daily Data

As of May 12, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 881,635 with 925 total new PCR cases reported. There were 242 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 127,458. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,009,093.

As for those that have passed, the state reported 33 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,234. The state listed probable deaths at 2,648, bringing the overall total to 25,882. State officials noted 23 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on May 12, Bergen had a total of 93 new confirmed cases and 36 probable cases, Essex 111 new cases and 17 probable cases, Hudson 90 new cases and 14 probable cases, Morris 23 new cases and 13 probable cases, Passaic 53 new cases and eight probable cases, Sussex 12 new cases and seven probable cases, and Warren 14 cases and four new probable cases.

There are a total of 3,855 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 3,566 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 155 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 123 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and 11 cases of the South African (B.1351) variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,647, followed by Bergen at 2,554, Hudson with 2,031, Passaic at 1,693, Morris at 966, Sussex at 231 and Warren County at 210.

In regards to probable deaths reported May 12, Bergen has 297, Essex has 296, Morris has 253, Hudson has 213, Passaic has 197, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission reported May 12, it declined to 1.00 from 1.07 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 8, was 4.7%; by region, the rate was 5.0% in the North, 4.1% in the Central region and 4.9% in the South. 

Officials reported 1,041 patients were hospitalized; 944 cases were confirmed and 97 are under investigation. By region, there were 516 in the North, 254 in the Central and 271 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 247 are in intensive care units and 162 on ventilators. A total of 139 patients were discharged, while 72 were admitted.

Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, 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 89,043, followed by Middlesex at 84,155, Essex at 84,114, Hudson at 78,449, Monmouth at 66,940, Ocean at 65,206, Passaic at 64,965, Union at 59,969, Camden at 48,308, Morris at 41,595, Burlington at 37,932, Mercer at 31,283, Gloucester at 26,275, Atlantic at 24,723, Somerset at 24,082, Cumberland at 14,664, Sussex at 11,549, Warren at 8,832, Hunterdon at 8,784, Salem at 5,476, and Cape May at 4,561.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,451, followed by Union at 10,948, Ocean at 10,092, Essex at 9,390, Hudson at 9,181, Morris at 8,119, Monmouth at 8,019, Middlesex at 7,350, Passaic at 7,275, Atlantic at 6,582, Camden at 6,491, Burlington at 6,058, Somerset at 5,715, Cape May at 4,521, Gloucester at 3,914, Mercer at 2,349, Sussex at 2,262, Cumberland at 2,210, Warren at 1,007, Hunterdon at 891, and Salem 531.

Another 730 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 281 outbreaks involving 1,263 cases, accounting for 18 additional outbreaks and 106 cases from the previous weekly update on May 12. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 53 confirmed outbreaks with 202 cases, Sussex has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 78 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 57 cases, Warren has 15 confirmed outbreaks with 36 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 197 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 5,259 of the cases, broken down between 2,259 residents and 3,000 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,447 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,913 residents and 22,224 staff, for a total of 55,137. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,041 on May 12. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,892 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.

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