With in-person early voting set to begin this weekend, the state has clarified some of the COVID-19 protocols to be adhered to on Election Day.
The administrative order established that on Nov. 2, the definition of “the indoor portion of school district premises” which requires mandatory use of face masks by staff, students, and visitors. will temporarily be excluded.
Rooms within a school district premises that are used exclusively to conduct the General Election will not have to follow the face mask mandate.
For those districts that are serving as polling locations while simultaneously delivering in-person instruction, the order requires temporarily-excluded locations to be secured by a door or barrier from the rest of the building such that there is no interaction between individuals accessing the voting equipment and students, school staff, or school administrators of the school district during the school day. Officials said if the location is capable, such locations shall be directly accessible from the outside.
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But for those not able to provide direct access from the outside, the indoor space necessary to gain access to the temporarily-excluded location shall be temporarily excluded and should be as secure and as segregated from the rest of the building as possible to limit interaction between individuals accessing the voting equipment and students, school staff, or school administrators of the school district during the school day.
Early Voting Begins
If a district cannot ensure that there is no interaction between individuals accessing the voting equipment and school district staffers, officials should make the day an off day for students and teachers.
The announcement comes on the heel of Gov. Phil Murphy increased the pay for poll workers to $300 a day and poll workers would no longer be limited to serving only within the county in which they reside. In March, the Governor signed into law legislation that would require early voting hours in each of the state’s 21 counties, mandating three to seven polling places for machine voting in the days before an election.
The early voting period allows for in-person early voting at designated polling places up to 10 days before Election Day. The length of the early-voting period would depend on the election. Additionally, the number of early voting sites in each county would depend on the number of registered voters within the county, and designated polling places would be required to open for early voting on Monday through Saturday from at least 10 AM to 8 PM.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,171,606 in-state, plus an additional 464,433 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 12,636,039 as of Oct. 22. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,803,445 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 200,043 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,003,488.
State officials reported 304,922 boosters and third shots of Pfizer and 64,028 third shots of Moderna.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,360,225 doses (643,910 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,050,073 doses (501,824), Hudson 944,925 doses (453,734), Morris 737,253 doses (347,396), Passaic 653,445 doses (312,980), Sussex 172,511 doses (83,752), and Warren 112,790 doses (54,424).
As of Oct. 22, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,032,044 with 1,300 total new PCR cases. There were 531 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 155,044. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,187,088.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 22 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,018. The state listed probable deaths at 2,810, bringing the overall total to 27,828. 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. 22, Bergen had a total of 104 new confirmed cases and 54 new probable cases, Essex 69 new cases and 27 new probable case, Hudson 91 new cases and 22 new probable cases, Morris 50 new confirmed cases and 37 new probable cases, Passaic 90 new cases and 38 new probable cases, Sussex 29 new cases and 10 new probable cases, and Warren 30 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,834, followed by Bergen at 2,676, Hudson with 2,163, Passaic at 1,801, Morris at 1,035, Sussex at 259, and Warren County at 227.
In regards to probable deaths reported Oct. 18, Essex has 311, Bergen has 307, Morris has 265, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 71 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,630,794 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Oct. 4, 36,616 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 794 COVID-related hospitalizations and 215 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Sept. 27-Oct. 3, breakthroughs accounted for 17.4% of all new cases (2,352 of 13,507), 2.0% of new hospilizations (17 of 834), and two of the 98 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Oct. 22, it declined to 0.85 from 0.87 the previous day. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 16 was 5.0%; by region, the rate was 3.6% in the North, 6.1% in the Central region and 6.9% in the South.
The state reported 857 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 250 in the North, 259 in the Central and 348 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 217 are in intensive care units and 118 on ventilators. A total of 108 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 as of Oct. 19, the state has tracked 126 school outbreaks and 658 cases in 105 school districts linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 30 outbreaks and 137 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 564 students and 94 teachers across 19 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. 19, Passaic County has five confirmed outbreak with 72 cases, Sussex has 11 confirmed outbreak with 45 cases, Bergen County has nine confirmed outbreak with 45 cases, Morris County has six confirmed outbreaks with 27 cases, Essex County has five confirmed outbreak with 20 cases and Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 16 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 159 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,339 of the cases, broken down between 698 residents and 641 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,786 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,942 residents and 23,221 staff, for a total of 57,163.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,603 on Oct. 22. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,993 residents deaths and 146 staff deaths.