State officials continue to remain confident with their guidance that students will not have to wear a mask in the Fall despite recent recommendations from a pediatrician association that masks be required when doors open in September.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently called for schools to enforce universal masking mandates because so many kids will not be protected by the Fall and school officials will have no way of verifying COVID vaccine status unless the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approve a vaccine for those 12 and under in the near future.
But, with a relatively high vaccine rate in New Jersey, state officials see no reason right now to mandate masks to be worn by students when classes start for the 2021/2022 school year
“I remain comfortable with where we are,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at a press briefing July 19.
Right to Change
But Murphy added if circumstances change, he would reinstate the mask requirement in New Jersey.
“I want to reiterate unequivocally I don’t want to go back but if we think that’s the right public health thing to do, then that’s what the experts will suggest,” said the Governor. “The good news about masking is it’s not like an investment in a building or building a new building. You can make decisions with the fullness of time and data and make them very informed and also make them very quickly if need be.”
New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli pointed out that the doctor’s association is recommending a layered approach to the prevention strategies.
“Not one activity is the end-all and be-all. It’s testing, quarantining, cleaning, disinfecting, distancing, hygiene practices,” said Persichilli. “They’re appealing to a national perspective.“
Feel Free to Wear a Mask
Murphy added, “(The CDC) is trying to encompass everybody from Vermont and New Jersey and Connecticut on the one hand all the way over to Missouri, Alabama, other less vaccinated places on the other hand.”
The governor stated if a mask mandate did return, he hoped it would only be for a limited time.
“These variants are not raging like this forever and for always….this is not a permanent condition that we’re in,” stated Murphy. “We need to keep that in mind, that we can’t stigmatize against someone who chooses to (wear a mask), whether they do it for the absolute right, public health reason, because they’re unvaccinated, or because they just feel more comfortable doing it.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 10,281,293 in-state, plus an additional 345,447 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 10,626,740 as of July 21. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,036,404 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 149,327 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,185,731.
Demographically, 53% of those vaccinated are women and 47% men. As for ethnicity, 49% are White, 15% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 9% other and 9% unknown. In regards to the age of those having received the vaccine, 24% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 29% are between the ages of 30-49, and 20% are between the ages of 12-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,168,276 doses (575,140 fully vaccinated), Essex 867,976 doses (421,078), Hudson 794,894 doses (382,010), Morris 643,512 doses (314,976), Passaic 538,169 doses (261,399), Sussex 149,951 doses (74,438), and Warren 96,754 doses (47,705).
As of July 21, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 899,464 with 655 total new PCR cases reported. There were 208 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 131,136. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,030,600.
As for those that have passed, the state reported five confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 23,844. The state listed probable deaths at 2,718, bringing the overall total to 26,562. State officials noted two deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on July 21, Bergen had a total of 55 new confirmed cases and 13 new probable cases, Essex 63 new cases and 19 new probable case, Hudson 13 new cases and four new probable cases, Morris 35 new confirmed cases and 15 new probable cases, Passaic 36 new cases and 10 new probable case, Sussex four new cases and three new probable cases, and Warren had one new case and no new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,731, followed by Bergen at 2,596, Hudson with 2,092, Passaic at 1,743, Morris at 981, Sussex at 240, and Warren County at 212.
In regards to probable deaths reported July 19, Essex has 304, Bergen has 302, Morris has 262, Hudson has 218, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
As for the rate of transmission reported July 21, it increased to 1.40 from 1.37 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested July 16 was 2.9%; by region, the rate was 2.7% in the North, 3.2% in the Central region and 2.8% in the South.
Officials reported 369 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 182 in the North, 103 in the Central and 84 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 63 are in intensive care units and 26 on ventilators. A total of 46 patients were discharged.
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 90,859, followed by Middlesex at 85,701, Essex at 85,546, Hudson at 79,414, Monmouth at 68,798, Ocean at 66,669, Passaic at 66,308, Union at 61,027, Camden at 49,522, Morris at 42,361, Burlington at 38,646, Mercer at 31,898, Gloucester at 26,816, Atlantic at 25,235, Somerset at 24,641, Cumberland at 15,022, Sussex at 11,826, Warren at 9,074, Hunterdon at 9,072, Salem at 5,616, and Cape May at 4,688.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 14,788, followed by Union at 11,181, Ocean at 10,518, Essex at 9,617, Hudson at 9,405, Morris at 8,387, Monmouth at 8,282, Middlesex at 7,505, Passaic at 7,494, Camden at 6,858, Atlantic at 6,695, Burlington at 6,095, Somerset at 5,829, Cape May at 4,643, Gloucester at 4,113, Mercer at 2,463, Sussex at 2,368, Cumberland at 2,301, Warren at 1,031, Hunterdon at 910, and Salem 555.
Another 725 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 24 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 85 of the cases, broken down between 49 residents and 36 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,501 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,813 residents and 22,239 staff, for a total of 55,052.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,063 on July 21. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,878 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.