Assemblywoman Aura Dunn slammed Gov. Phil Murphy’s inaction on the school bus driver shortage plaguing New Jersey.
Dunn (R-25) questioned how statewide business shutdowns and COVID-19 mandates were passed so quickly, when school districts were forced to face the problem on their own.
“It’s appalling that parents and individual school districts are being forced to cobble together fixes for the school bus shortage while the Murphy administration barely acknowledges that there is even an issue,” she said.
Comparisons to Other Nearby States
Dunn was quick to note Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker activated the National Guard to address their own bus driver shortage, an option Murphy did not immediately take off the table.
“I don’t think we, at this moment, feel like we need to do what Massachusetts did with the National Guard, but that’s an option that we certainly could look at,” he stated on Sept. 22.
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Dunn said Govs. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) and Larry Hogan (R-MD) were already developing plans to streamline the process to secure a commercial driver’s license and to schedule appointments at their respective motor vehicle agencies.
“Other states have governors who have stepped up and figured it out and our children deserve the same,” commented the Assemblywoman. “There was plenty of time to plan for this, but we know from prior experience that the Motor Vehicle Commission doesn’t think ahead.”
Two Views on Safety Issues
Gov. Murphy positioned his stance on safety, and referred to an early bus incident during the early days of his administration.
“We just got to make sure in our striving to get full capacity we don’t cut any corners in terms of safety,” he said.
However, Dunn saw the lack of drivers as a public safety issue for children in many towns.
“This is a safety and accessibility issue that needs to be immediately addressed,” Dunn added. “Children in Paterson and Camden are being forced out of the classrooms and back into remote learning because they can’t get to school. It’s unacceptable. I am asking the governor, the Department of Education and the MVC to put a plan into action to remedy the situation.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,682,192 in-state, plus an additional 450,776 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,132,968 as of Oct. 1. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,670,012 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 194,919 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,864,931. State officials reported 129,320 have received a third booster shot.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,304,740 doses (632,870 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,014,934 doses (487,075), Hudson 917,965 doses (441,699), Morris 706,446 doses (341,925), Passaic 629,811 doses (303,945), Sussex 166,404 doses (82,146), and Warren 108,772 doses (53,331).
As of Oct. 1, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,005,006 with 1,642 total new PCR cases. There were 422 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 151,237. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,156,243.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 16 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,656. The state listed probable deaths at 2,787, bringing the overall total to 27,443. State officials noted nine deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Oct. 1, Bergen had a total of 142 new confirmed cases and 51 new probable cases, Essex 103 new cases and 22 new probable case, Hudson 93 new cases and seven new probable cases, Morris 73 new confirmed cases and 21 new probable cases, Passaic 54 new cases and 21 new probable cases, Sussex 43 new cases and six new probable cases, and Warren 29 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,813, followed by Bergen at 2,652, Hudson with 2,148, Passaic at 1,785, Morris at 1,021, Sussex at 251, and Warren County at 225.
In regards to probable deaths reported Sept. 27, Essex has 311, Bergen has 306, Morris has 265, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 68 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,421.060 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Sept. 13, 25,991 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 537 COVID-related hospitalizations and 126 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 7-Sept. 12, breakthroughs accounted for 22.8% of all new cases (2,449 of 10,760), 3.7% of new hospilizations (32 of 863), and two of the 55 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 1, it declined to 0.92 from 0.94 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Sept. 26 was 6.7%; by region, the rate was 5.6% in the North, 7.8% in the Central region and 7.5% in the South.
The state reported 1,035 patients were hospitalized, going back over 1,000 cases a day after it dropped under for the first time since late August. By region, there were 321 in the North, 341 in the Central and 373 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 233 are in intensive care units and 129 on ventilators. A total of 165 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
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.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, the state has tracked 39 school outbreaks and 219 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 21 outbreaks and 112 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 182 students and 37 teachers in 38 communities across 16 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 1, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with 50 cases, Essex County has four confirmed outbreak with 16 cases, Bergen County has three confirmed outbreak with 15 cases, Morris County has two confirmed outbreaks with eight cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, and Sussex has one confirmed outbreak with four cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 156 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,222 of the cases, broken down between 664 residents and 558 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,730 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,666 residents and 23,006 staff, for a total of 56,672.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,546 on Oct. 1. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,964 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.