Just miles away from where she went to elementary school, First Lady Jill Biden returned to Bergen County to promote the release of more resources for students and institutions impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The First Lady, joined by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, announced an additional $198 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support students’ basic needs, including providing access to childcare on campus for student parents, discharging unpaid student balances so students can remain enrolled, and bolstering mental health counseling programs.
“You know, it’s hard to express what it’s like to have a bright, engaged student — someone who has so much passion and potential — fade out of my class because they can’t find a babysitter. It breaks my heart,” said Biden, who attended elementary school in Mahwah for two years. “For parents, especially moms, child care makes graduation possible.”
The department announced that it will be inviting applications next week for a $198 million grant opportunity under the Supplemental Support under American Rescue Plan (SSARP) program to support colleges and universities with the greatest unmet needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In awarding funds, the department will prioritize community colleges and rural institutions of higher education that serve a high percentage of low-income students and have experienced enrollment declines since the start of the pandemic.
“In speaking with students from across the country at all different types of higher education institutions, I have heard consistently that the pandemic has exacerbated challenges in meeting students’ basic needs, from housing, to food, to transportation, and more,” said Cardona. “We cannot let this be a barrier to student success, particularly for students who have contended with these issues for far too long.”
Removing Financial Barriers
A community college teacher in Virginia, Biden said “I feel really at home” during the visit to Bergen Community College with Gov. Phil Murphy, his wife, Tammy Murphy, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer. The First Lady Lady in her remarks highlighted how the Paramus campus uses federal funds to subsidize tuition at their on-campus Child Development Center to remove financial barriers to students’ education.
“After getting hit hard by COVID-19, we passed the American Rescue Plan, which helped save the day for students, ensuring that they had the systems and resources to keep preparing for their futures,” said Gottheimer. “No one knows the value and critical importance of community colleges more than our First Lady — a remarkable community college educator herself, who somehow still finds the time to teach.”
White House Partner
Additionally, the department announced nearly $5 million in grants that were awarded to six community colleges, including Passaic County Community College, to develop new initiatives to address students’ basic needs. These institutions will implement programs to expand access to food, housing, and healthcare for the students on their campuses.
“Community colleges have a partner in the White House,” Biden said, who added that President Joe Biden “goes to bed at night and when he wakes up every single morning, he thinks about how he can help American families. He knows that you are our greatest resource and our best investment.”
As of Jan. 21, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,769,896 with 10,707 total new PCR cases. There were 1,950 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 279,677. The total number of individual cases for the state is 2,049,573.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 144 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 27,735. The state listed probable deaths at 2,883, bringing the overall total to 30,618. State officials noted 92 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Jan. 21, Bergen had a total of 1,126 new confirmed cases and 209 new probable cases, Essex 870 new cases and 72 new probable case, Hudson 657 new cases and 88 new probable cases, Morris 595 new confirmed cases and 101 new probable cases, Passaic 861 new cases and 65 new probable cases, Sussex 179 new cases and 24 new probable cases, and Warren 148 new cases and 19 new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 3,058, followed by Bergen at 2,906, Hudson with 2,327, Passaic at 1,975, Morris at 1,145, Sussex at 335, and Warren County at 274.
In regards to probable deaths reported Jan. 18, Bergen has 314, Essex has 310, Morris has 274, Hudson has 275, Passaic has 205, Sussex has 75 and Warren has 27.
Of the 6,145,961 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Dec. 27, 2021, 128,172 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated (2.1%). Of those 1,687 have been hospitalized and 448 COVID-related deaths—less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Dec. 20-26, 2021, breakthroughs accounted for 31.0% of all new cases (31,334 of 101,000), 0.2% of new hospitalizations (4 of 2,640), and five of the 146 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Jan. 21, it declined to 0.78 from 0.83 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Jan. 16 was 23.5%; by region, the rate was 22.1% in the North, 24.6% in the Central region and 25.4% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 4,826 patients hospitalized as all 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Jan. 21. By region, there were 1,982 in the North, 1,623 in the Central and 1,221 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 791 are in intensive care units and 511 on ventilators. A total of 722 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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 560 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 23,316 of the cases, broken down between 10,512 residents and 12,804 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,349 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 44,321 residents and 35,824 staff, for a total of 80,145.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,908 on Jan. 21. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,294 residents deaths and 147 staff deaths.
According to the state dashboard with just 60% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 28,523 and new staff cases 8,646 in the last week as of Jan. 9. Cumulatively, 141,734 cases have been reported— 109,341 students and 32,393 staffers.
The vaccination rate for teachers in the Garden State is 83.9% overall. In North Jersey counties, Bergen was tops at 90.8%, followed by Warren at 90.3%, Morris at 86.8%, Sussex at 86.0%, Passaic at 85.1%, Essex at 83.1%, and Hudson at 69.8%, the lowest county in the state.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Jan. 18, the state has tracked 406 school outbreaks and 2,365 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 18 outbreaks and 110 cases from the week previous.
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 in the new report, Bergen County has 51 confirmed outbreaks with 274 cases, Morris County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 197 cases, Passaic County has 20 confirmed outbreaks with 173 cases, Sussex has 29 confirmed outbreaks with 156 cases, Essex County has 24 confirmed outbreaks with 128 cases, Hudson County has 18 confirmed outbreaks with 89 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 12 cases.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,326,769 in-state, plus an additional 543,297 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,870,066 as of Jan. 21.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,330,410 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 218,446 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,548,856. A total of 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in New Jersey and 88% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,414,101 for Pfizer and 1,180,093 for Moderna. A total of 55,923 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,650,117 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 46% of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 695,535 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 560,548, Hudson 501,859, Morris 374,692, Passaic 340,505, Sussex 89,875, and Warren 58,375.