With the indoor mask mandate for those fully vaccinated being lifted starting Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy is looking to give more flexibility for employers to have their workers return to the office.
Murphy at a press briefing May 26 said he will sign an executive order giving additional guidance and flexibility to employers as they look to their own continued return to normal operating practices starting June 4.
The governor said the goal is to allow “employers greater flexibility to bring employees back into in-person working environments. We encourage all employers to do the right things for their specific workplaces.”
New Workplace Rules
Under the order, employers would allow employees who can certify that are vaccinated to forgo masking and social distancing requirements. Additionally, will rescind requirements to accommodate remote working arrangements and to reduce on-site staffs to the minimal number necessary.
State employees are still required to mask up and remain social distance protocols in state offices.
The governor stressed employers should still be flexible with employees, “particularly those who are juggling family obligations such as childcare.”
Childcare Capacity Expanded
With New Jerseyans citing childcare as an impediment to going back to work, Murphy announced the group limits in child care classes—which are currently capped at 15—will be returned to their normal regulated limits effective immediately.
“This is an important piece of getting our economy back working for more parents,” said Murphy. “We know how critical access to childcare is for many working families, especially working moms, and restoring these limits to their pre-pandemic standard is an important piece of getting our economy back working for more parents as well as for peace of mind.”
Masks, though, will still be required indoors and outdoors at childcare facilities, even though Murphy signed an order to lift the state’s mask mandate. Schools remain an exception to that change. The masking of children has received criticisms from GOP lawmakers over the last couple of days.
Besides the indoor mask mandate being broadly lifted, the state will no longer require restaurants, retail stores, personal services, gyms, churches, casinos and more have to keep 6 feet of distance between patrons and groups. Additionally, bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen dance floors and the resumption of ordering and eating/drinking while standing at bars and restaurants just in time for the unofficial start of Summer.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 8,485,313 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 8,842,287 as of May 26. Of those who have received the vaccine, 3,967,570 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 167,420 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,134,990.
Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 53% are White, 13% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 28% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 15% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 934,462 doses (439,807 fully vaccinated), Essex 693,742 doses (319,103), Hudson 593,613 doses (267,508), Morris 559,497 doses (263,812), Passaic 424,222 doses (196,222), Sussex 129,846 doses (61,565), and Warren 83,814 doses (39,667).
As of May 26, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 886,585 with 352 total new PCR cases reported. There were 99 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 128,389. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,014,974.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 25 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,489. The state listed probable deaths at 2,670, bringing the overall total to 26,159. State officials noted 12 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on May 25, Bergen had a total of 40 new confirmed cases and seven nw probable cases, Essex 58 new cases and two new probable cases, Hudson 20 new cases and four new probable cases, Morris 12 new cases and three new probable cases, Passaic 15 new cases and two new probable cases, Sussex three new cases and one new probable case, and Warren eight new cases and two new probable case.
There are a total of 4,295 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 3,968 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 160 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 156 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and 11 cases of the South African (B.1.351) variant.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,682, followed by Bergen at 2,565, Hudson with 2,064, Passaic at 1,717, Morris at 972, Sussex at 234 and Warren County at 211.
In regards to probable deaths reported May 26, Bergen has 298, Essex has 299, Morris has 257, Hudson has 215, Passaic has 198, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission reported May 26, it increased to 0.75 from 0.70 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 22, was 2.8%; by region, the rate was 2.4% in the North, 3.4% in the Central region and 2.9% in the South.
Officials reported 641 patients were hospitalized; 560 cases were confirmed and 81 are under investigation. By region, there were 369 in the North, 169 in the Central and 169 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 137 are in intensive care units and 94 on ventilators. A total of 97 patients were discharged, while 67 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 89,596, followed by Middlesex at 84,557, Essex at 84,419, Hudson at 78,587, Monmouth at 67,319, Ocean at 65,489, Passaic at 65,402, Union at 60,276, Camden at 48,811, Morris at 41,745, Burlington at 38,157, Mercer at 31,499, Gloucester at 26,473, Atlantic at 24,890, Somerset at 24,241, Cumberland at 14,803, Sussex at 11,652, Warren at 8,920, Hunterdon at 8,870, Salem at 5,537, and Cape May at 4,595.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,546, followed by Union at 10,990, Ocean at 10,155, Essex at 9,440, Hudson at 9,209, Morris at 8,248, Monmouth at 8,051, Middlesex at 7,444, Passaic at 7,320, Camden at 6,628, Atlantic at 6,622, Burlington at 5,948, Somerset at 5,753, Cape May at 4,560, Gloucester at 3,985, Mercer at 2,388, Sussex at 2,301, Cumberland at 2,236, Warren at 1,023, Hunterdon at 895, and Salem 537.
Another 747 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 17.
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 141 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 3,493 of the cases, broken down between 1,377 residents and 2,116 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,465 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,877 residents and 22,270 staff, for a total of 55,147.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,050 on May 26. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,885 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.