New Jersey’s school mask mandate got a nod of support from 67% of registered voters and 69% of the registered voters who are parents of school-age children who responded to a new Monmouth University poll.
Mandating vaccinations for school-age children was less popular. Just over half of all voters (53%) said they would approve of requiring children aged 12 and older to be vaccinated in order to attend school in person. Under half (45%) said they would support the same requirement for children under 12 years old if a vaccine is authorized for that age group in the months ahead.
Registered voters who are parents were less supportive of vaccine mandates for school attendance with 44% saying they support requiring vaccines for middle to high schoolers and 39% saying they would support such a requirement for younger children.
“The vocal opposition to the state’s school mask mandate is a decidedly minority view. However, there may be greater pushback from parents if a vaccine mandate was instituted for school children,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll was released hours before Gov. Phil Murphy announced the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in New Jersey to include all those employed by a school district as well as government employees. At a press briefing on Aug. 23, Murphy revealed that by Oct. 18, teachers, administrators and staffers, whether full or part time, face the choice of being fully mandated or face testing of up to twice a week. The order applies to all public, private, and parochial preschool programs and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools.
The same deadline goes for all state employees—including those at state agencies, authorities, New Jersey State Police officers and public colleges and universities.
Previously, Murphy on Aug. 6 signed Executive Order 251, which mandates masking inside all public, private, and parochial schools from preschool through secondary school, with limited exceptions. The order took effect on Aug. 9.
In signing the order, Murphy said that students learn best in a classroom setting and that he remained “committed to having our schools open for full-time, in-person instruction this fall.”
“While this announcement gives us no pleasure, I know that by taking this precaution we can keep our schools open while also keeping our children safe,” Murphy said. He added that state officials “will continue to closely monitor the science and data and will lift this mandate when we can do so safely.”
Poll Finds COVID Anxiety Up
The poll found that anxiety about the risk of illness from COVID-19 has inched up since May. In May, 56% of Garden State voters said the schools should be fully open for in-person teaching this Fall. Now 48% of voters say schools should be fully open for in-person instruction.
Among parents of children under 18 years old, 53% say schools should be fully in person (down from 61% in May), while 40% prefer a hybrid model (up from 31%), and 6% want fully remote instruction (similar to 7% in May).
More than 6 in 10 New Jersey voters (62%) said they support reinstituting general face mask and social distancing requirements, while 35% oppose doing so. Support for masking and distancing requirements was greatest among Democrats (86%) and independents (58%). Just 28% of Republicans favored masking and distancing requirements.
Better Than Other States
The poll found that 51% of voters say New Jersey has been doing better than other states in handling the pandemic, while 17% say it has done worse.
“The delta variant has raised public concern, but New Jerseyans look at what is happening in places like Florida and Texas and feel we have things under better control here,” Monmouth University’s Murray said.
The Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch conducted the poll by phone from Aug 11 to Aug. 16 with 810 New Jersey registered voters and a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 10,932,679 in-state, plus an additional 397,431 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 11,330,1101 as of Aug. 24. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,320,359 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 171,250 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,491,608.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,228,214 doses (601,650 fully vaccinated), Essex 933,797 doses (449,166), Hudson 852,362 doses (408,293), Morris 670,840 doses (327,864), Passaic 580,097 doses (279,444), Sussex 157,027 doses (77,640), and Warren 102,006 doses (50,015).
As of Aug. 24, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 940,179 with 1,595 total new PCR cases reported. There were 548 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 137,608. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,075,930.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 20 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,053. The state listed probable deaths at 2,722, bringing the overall total to 26,775. State officials noted 11 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Aug. 24, Bergen had a total of 144 new confirmed cases and 53 new probable cases, Essex 117 new cases and 29 new probable case, Hudson 134 new cases and 22 new probable cases, Morris 79 new confirmed cases and 31 new probable cases, Passaic 68 new cases and 16 new probable case, Sussex 20 new cases and four new probable cases, and Warren 17 new cases and four new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,755, followed by Bergen at 2,611, Hudson with 2,116, Passaic at 1,753, Morris at 986, Sussex at 245, and Warren County at 217.
In regards to probable deaths reported Aug. 23, Essex has 306, Bergen has 306, Morris has 261, Hudson has 219, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,116,596 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Aug. 9, 10,123 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 58 COVID-related hospitalizations and 50 COVID-related deaths.
In the last week, breakthroughs accounted for 18.3% of all new cases (1,397 of 7,611), 1.8% of new hospilizations (25 of 608), and none of the 53 deaths—the third week in a row that no death from those fully vaccinated.
As for the rate of transmission reported Aug. 24, it declined to 1.21 from 1.23 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Aug. 19 was 5.1%; by region, the rate was 4.5% in the North, 5.3% in the Central region and 6.6% in the South.
Officials reported 982 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 358 in the North, 293 in the Central and 331 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 184 are in intensive care units and 87 on ventilators. A total of 81 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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 113 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 646 of the cases, broken down between 338 residents and 308 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,610 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,145 residents and 22,546 staff, for a total of 55,691.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,451 on Aug. 24. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,894 residents deaths and 144 staff deaths.
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