State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25) has a message for Gov. Phil Murphy: it’s time to get back to full capacity at state government offices.
Specifically, the State Senator is calling to fully restore all State government services and staffing to levels seen before the pandemic.
“With the rest of New Jersey getting back to normal, there’s no excuse for State employees to still be working from home or for a full range of services not to be offered at every location,” he said.
A Focus on MVC
Bucco singled out the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC), saying his constituents were still complaining of wait lines and partial service offerings. MVC’s classification of agencies as either licensing centers or vehicle centers as a project that made sense when it was dealing with a backlog, but it was time for a change.
“Today, however, customers are realizing that it’s a major inconvenience not to have every MVC service offered at every location. In many instances, drivers are going to the wrong location or are forced to travel long distances for services that used to be offered at their local agency. What made sense when agencies reopened in July of 2020 doesn’t make much sense today,” he said.
He wasn’t the only one targeting the agency: a bill put forth by State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-40) would require the agency to full reopen its facilities to a pre-pandemic status.
“The continued delays and congestion at MVC facilities are inexcusable, and it is obvious the commission still needs some guidance from the Legislature on how to return to pre-pandemic operations,” she said.
Failures with DOL
Bucco also noted failures with the Department of Labor (DOL) in connection with unemployment requests during the pandemic as a reason to expand services.
“We continue to hear from New Jerseyans who are beyond frustrated that the Murphy administration refuses to offer walk-in unemployment help at Labor offices,” said Bucco.
He noted many claims have been frozen, and that the phone-based unemployment system is unresponsive to many of his constituents’ needs.
“All they need is five minutes in front of a live person to get help resetting their claim, proving their identity, or getting a question answered. Instead, the Murphy administration will only offer career services at these offices, not the in-person unemployment help people continue to request,” he said.
The cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey as of March 3 was 1,875,575 with 887 total new PCR cases. There were 420 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 295,764. The total number of individual cases for the state is 2,170,061.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 17 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 30,014. The state listed probable deaths at 2,968, bringing the overall total to 32,982. State officials noted 12 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on March 3, Bergen had a total of 122 new confirmed cases and 56 new probable cases, Essex 76 new cases and 20 new probable case, Hudson 64 new cases and 29 new probable cases, Morris 64 new confirmed cases and 38 new probable cases, Passaic 87 new cases and 10 new probable cases, Sussex 13 new cases and eight new probable cases, and Warren nine new cases and four new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 3,262, followed by Bergen at 3,085, Hudson with 2,485, Passaic at 2,118, Morris at 1,216, Sussex at 376, and Warren County at 310.
In regards to probable deaths reported Feb. 28, Bergen has 321, Essex has 311, Morris has 296, Hudson has 221, Passaic has 199, Sussex has 88 and Warren has 27.
As for the rate of transmission reported March 3, it declined to 0.77 from 0.79 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Feb. 26 was 4.1%; by region, the rate was 4.3% in the North, 4.0% in the Central region and 3.7% in the South.
The state’s dashboard had a count of 728 patients hospitalized as all 71 hospitals in the Garden State filed reports March 3. By region, there were 254 in the North, 252 in the Central and 222 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 138 are in intensive care units and 85 on ventilators. A total of 111 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 375 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 20,785 of the cases, broken down between 9,679 residents and 11,106 staff.
Cumulatively, 2,370 long-term care facilities have reported an outbreak infecting 47,001 residents and 37,993 staff, for a total of 84,994.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 9,295 on March 3. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,500 residents deaths and 149 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 13,745,926 in-state, plus an additional 563,338 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 14,309,264 as of March 3.
Of those who have received the vaccine, 6,543,269 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 224,977 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,768,246. With just under 8.5 million eligible in New Jersey to be vaccinated, 80% are fully vaccinated and 91% have received at least one dose.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 1,718,176 for Pfizer and 1,337,168 for Moderna. A total of 65,619 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 3,120,963 have received a booster or third shot—54% of the 5.7 million of those eligible have received their booster.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has 716,017 residents fully vaccinated, Essex 584,976, Hudson 522,765, Morris 383,578, Passaic 355,410, Sussex 92,103, and Warren 60,026.
According to the state dashboard with just 58.1% of all New Jersey schools reporting due to Winter break, new student cases totaled 1,505 and new staff cases 389 in the last week as of Feb. 20. Cumulatively, 128,175 cases have been reported— 100,375 students and 27,800 staffers.
In regards to outbreaks related to in-school transmissions as of Feb. 28, the state has tracked 511 school outbreaks and 3,450 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up four outbreaks and 19 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 58 confirmed outbreaks with 334 cases, Morris County has 40 confirmed outbreaks with 248 cases, Essex County has 33 confirmed outbreaks with 232 cases, Passaic County has 22 confirmed outbreaks with 188 cases, Sussex has 34 confirmed outbreaks with 177 cases, Hudson County has 20 confirmed outbreaks with 97 cases and Warren County has two confirmed outbreaks with 15 cases.