Gov. Phil Murphy, like most politicians, loves a parade.
And he believes municipalities around the Garden State should proceed with them this year, starting with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations next month
“There’s no reason to cancel,” Murphy said when asked about the parades at his weekly press conference Feb. 7 when he announced the school mask mandate would be lifted in March. “We should go ahead—be responsible, be smart particularly when you are indoors.”
Indoor vs. Outdoor
But the governor cautioned those heading out for Super Bowl parties this upcoming weekend and any festivities surrounding parades inside should still adhere to health protocols where they can, including holding events outdoors, wearing a mask and social distancing. Throughout the pandemic, the Governor and health officials in his administration have continually noted the virus is more lethal indoors than outdoors.
“I still think you have to use your head, if you’re inside and you’re with a bunch of people … whose vaccination status you don’t know, but there’s no reason whatsoever to cancel them,” Murphy said.
Two Canceled So Far
Two Garden State municipalities have canceled their annual March parades for 2022: Atlantic City and Newton.
The Newton Fire Department announced on Jan. 20 that it would not hold the Sussex County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in a Facebook posting as “the amount of planning and funding needed to organize this event due to numerous members of our department falling ill to our current pandemic, it has made it rather difficult to hold our meetings and seek funding, while maintaining adequate fire and safety.”
The social media message added that “this event takes weeks of meetings and hours of everyone’s time that wasn’t possible this year. Our main concern is providing Fire Protection and (we) could not risk compromising our membership falling ill from attending meetings for a parade. We hope things will change and improve and that this Parade will get back on track next year if not better than ever.”
Finding a Parade
The organizers in Atlantic City on Jan. 26 announced the cancellation resulting from a combination of a scaled-down parade route due to boardwalk safety concerns as well as a lack of participant interest “ultimately led to the decision for the 2022 parade cancellation.”
A number of other parades will still take place in North Jersey to celebrate the Irish, including Bayonne, Bergenfield, Hackettstown, Jersey City, Newark, Morristown, Nutley, Ringwood, Rutherford, and West Orange.
The cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey as of Feb. 8 was 1,844,784 with 1,425 total new PCR cases. There were 512 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 289,274. The total number of individual cases for the state is 2,134,058.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 108 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 29,157. The state listed probable deaths at 2,937, bringing the overall total to 32,094. State officials noted 29 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Feb. 8, Bergen had a total of 163 new confirmed cases and 54 new probable cases, Essex 74 new cases and 14 new probable case, Hudson 96 new cases and nine new probable cases, Morris 82 new confirmed cases and 14 new probable cases, Passaic 95 new cases and 32 new probable cases, Sussex 15 new cases and seven new probable cases, and Warren five new cases and six new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 3,191, followed by Bergen at 3,023, Hudson with 2,430, Passaic at 2,072, Morris at 1,199, Sussex at 360, and Warren County at 295.
In regards to probable deaths reported Feb. 7, Bergen has 321, Essex has 310, Morris has 284, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 203, Sussex has 82 and Warren has 27.
As for the rate of transmission reported Feb. 8, it declined to 0.51 from 0.52 a day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Feb. 3 was 6.8%; by region, the rate was 5.0% in the North, 8.0% in the Central region and 9.2% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 1,952 patients hospitalized as all 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports Feb. 8. By region, there were 744 in the North, 678 in the Central and 530 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 366 are in intensive care units and 262 on ventilators. A total of 159 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 26,685 of the cases, broken down between 12,218 residents and 14,467 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,357 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 46,089 residents and 37,521 staff, for a total of 83,610.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 9,099 on Feb. 8. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,455 residents deaths and 149 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,535,912 in-state, plus an additional 552,281 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 14,088,193 as of Feb. 8.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,439,751 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 221,146 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,660,897. With just under 8.5 million eligible in New Jersey to be vaccinated, 77% are fully vaccinated and 91% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,526,960 for Pfizer and 1,266,899 for Moderna. A total of 60,719 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 2,854,578 have received a booster or third shot. Overall, 51% of the 5.6 million of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 707,025 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 572,467, Hudson 512,859, Morris 379,523, Passaic 348,378, Sussex 90,987, and Warren 59,151.
According to the state dashboard with 63.6% of all New Jersey schools reporting, new student cases totaled 6,457 and new staff cases 1,536 in the last week as of Jan. 30. Cumulatively, 130,820 cases have been reported— 102,237 students and 28,583 staffers.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Feb. 8, the state has tracked 484 school outbreaks and 3,255 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 19 outbreaks and 117 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 55 confirmed outbreaks with 304 cases, Morris County has 40 confirmed outbreaks with 241 cases, Essex County has 31 confirmed outbreaks with 225 cases, Passaic County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 188 cases, Sussex has 34 confirmed outbreaks with 183 cases, Hudson County has 19 confirmed outbreaks with 92 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases.