The Public Health Emergency caused by the coronavirus that has been in place for the last 15 months is winding down after legislation passed along partisan lines in the State Senate and Assembly was signed into law June 4.
Gov. Phil Murphy approved the bill, negotiated with State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), which allows for the termination of the Public Health Emergency while Murphy retains some of the the tools the governor deemed necessary to manage the ongoing threat posed by the pandemic.
The legislation specifically ended the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and the majority of executive orders issued pursuant to the Public Health Emergency now set to expire July 4.
Return to Normalcy
“Today’s lifting of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is a clear and decisive step on the path toward normalcy,” said Murphy in a press statement. “The past 15 months have been a challenge, and I thank every New Jerseyan who stayed home, masked up, took precautions to keep this virus in check, and got vaccinated for allowing us to get to this point.”
Murphy, Sweeney and Coughlin released a joint statement the previous day trumpeting the passage, stating “Ending New Jersey’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is one of the most significant steps we have taken in our recovery efforts to date. With our state’s public health metrics continuing to trend decisively in the right direction, we are confident that now is the right time to take this action (and) move closer to normal than at any time since March 2020.”
Among the powers the Murphy Administration retains is the ability to issue orders, directives, and waivers under the authority in the Emergency Health Powers Act that are related to vaccination efforts; testing; health resource and personnel allocation; data collection, retention, sharing, and access; coordination of local health departments; and implementation of any CDC recommendations to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
This authority lasts until January 11, 2022, and can be extended for 90 days with the passage of a concurrent resolution by the Legislature.
The legislation keeps the following executive orders in place until Jan.1, 2022, though they can be modified or rescinded prior to that date by the Governor:
- A moratorium on evictions during the crisis.
- A moratorium on insurance companies canceling policies for those who don’t pay.
- A moratorium on utility shutoffs for those who don’t pay.
- Expanded outdoor dining at restaurants.
- A requirement that health-care facilities give the state daily data reports.
- Protocols at Summer youth camps.
- Shielding federal stimulus payments from wage garnishment.
- Current rules on masks, which are still mandated in schools and on public transit, among other places, in accordance with guidelines with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The law restores the seven-day deadline mandated by the Open Public Records Act for officials to answer requests for public records—but exempts those for documents related to COVID-19. Additionally, it ends a provision shielding healthcare providers, including long-term care facilities, from residents being able to file civil and criminal lawsuits on Sept. 1, but exempting doctors and nurses handling COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
GOP Wanted More
GOP lawmakers voted against the legislation on grounds that it didn’t do enough to curb the governor’s powers Murphy had used during the pandemic and was voted on too quickly as neither house held public hearings on the matter.
State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) offered amendments to end the public health emergency with no exceptions and limit the governor’s ability to spend federal relief money without legislative approval.
“This bill would end the public health emergency in name only. It’s not fooling anyone, not us, and certainly not the public,” said Oroho on the Senate floor. “Even though they don’t have a plan, the governor could go out tomorrow and wastefully spend all of the money without any requirement that he consult us. That’s not how the government should work. We believe it should be the Legislature’s job to decide how that money is spent through an open, transparent, and public process.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 8,802,099 in-state, plus an additional 357,974 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 9,160,073 as of June 4. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,135,100 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 168,221 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 4,303,321.
Demographically, 54% of those vaccinated are women and 46% men. As for ethnicity, 52% are White, 14% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 8% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 26% are 65 years old or olders, 28% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 16% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 964,485 doses (454,826 fully vaccinated), Essex 725,481 doses (336,046), Hudson 624,445 doses (284,100), Morris 574,520 doses (271,685), Passaic 444,719 doses (206,470), Sussex 133,878 doses (63,991), and Warren 86,278 doses (41,138).
As of June 4, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 888,507 with 304 total new PCR cases reported. There were 84 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 128,830. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,017,337.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 12 new deaths, bringing that total to 23,587. The state listed probable deaths at 2,678, bringing the overall total to 26,265. State officials noted five deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on June 4, Bergen had a total of 18 new confirmed cases and 14 new probable cases, Essex 35 new cases and two new probable cases, Hudson 19 new cases and three new probable cases, Morris 13 new cases and three new probable cases, Passaic 17 new cases and 11 new probable cases, Sussex eight new cases and four new probable cases, and Warren seven new cases and one 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 2,697, followed by Bergen at 2,571, Hudson with 2,073, Passaic at 1,727, Morris at 975, Sussex at 236, and Warren County at 211.
In regards to probable deaths reported June 2, Bergen has 298, Essex has 300, Morris has 259, Hudson has 215, Passaic has 198, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported June 2, it remained unchanged from the day before at 0.72. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of May 30, was 1.9%; by region, the rate was 2.0% in the North, 1.7% in the Central region and 2.0% in the South.
Officials reported 479 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 247 in the North, 106 in the Central and 126 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 97 are in intensive care units and 63 on ventilators. A total of 82 patients were discharged, while 41 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 88,932, followed by Middlesex at 84,962, Essex at 84,843, Hudson at 78,931, Monmouth at 67,648, Ocean at 65,826, Passaic at 65,782, Union at 60,583, Camden at 49,162, Morris at 42,063, Burlington at 38,435, Mercer at 31,816, Gloucester at 26,736, Atlantic at 25,127, Somerset at 24,496, Cumberland at 15,068, Sussex at 11,897, Warren at 9,161, Hunterdon at 9,109, Salem at 5,761, and Cape May at 4,825.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,602, followed by Union at 11,016, Ocean at 10,196, Essex at 9,465, Hudson at 9,215, Morris at 8,265, Monmouth at 8,084, Middlesex at 7,473, Passaic at 7,359, Camden at 6,675, Atlantic at 6,632, Burlington at 5,949, Somerset at 5,761, Cape May at 4,578, Gloucester at 4,012, Mercer at 2,408, Sussex at 2,313, Cumberland at 2,260, Warren at 1,030, Hunterdon at 896, and Salem 539.
Another 943 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 100 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 2,378 of the cases, broken down between 953 residents and 1,425 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,471 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,758 residents and 22,220 staff, for a total of 54,978.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,056 on June 4. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,868 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.