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LIVE UPDATES: Gov. Phil Murphy announces restart to some visits at long-term care facilities

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy gestures as he speaks about reopening the state to phase 2 during the coronavirus briefing in Trenton, N.J. Monday, June 15, 2020.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that parents or legal guardians will be allowed to visit pediatric, developmentally disabled and intellectually disabled residents at long-term care facilities.

“We know that this has been a trying time for the families of residents in these settings,” Murphy said during his daily briefing with other state officials. “However, as we’ve mentioned before, when it comes to some of our state’s most vulnerable residents, we have had to take extra precautions to save lives.”

The visits will be by appointment, and the state Department of Health will be releasing guidance, he said. The order will also allow indoor visits at facilities that have zero new probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the previous 28 days.

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 396, bringing the total to 176,278, Murphy said. There have been 27 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 13,660.

There are also 1,974 probable deaths attributed to the disease, he said.

There are 923 people hospitalized across the state, including 151 people in intensive care and 78 people on ventilators, Murphy said.

The state currently ranks third in the nation for number of deaths per 100,000 residents, while it is 19th and 44th for patients in the hospital and new cases per day, respectively, per 100,000 residents.

So far, Atlantic County has reported 3,165 cases with 222 deaths and 1,778 cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 851 cases with 75 deaths and 655 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 2,557 cases with 140 deaths.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Included in the totals are 18 additional cases and one death Atlantic County officials reported Wednesday.

An 85-year-old Northfield woman is the latest county resident to succumb to complications from COVID-19, according to a news release from county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore, citing the county’s Division of Public Health.

The 18 additional residents who have tested positive include 10 men, ages 39 to 70, and eight women, ages 19 to 64, according to the release. Five of the positives were found in Absecon; four in Atlantic City; two each in Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township and Pleasantville; and one each in Hamilton Township, Hammonton and Margate.

The county will continue to provide testing at its drive-thru facility in Northfield at Rt. 9 and Dolphin Avenue, behind the county public works yard, according to the release. The test site is now available for both symptomatic and asymptomatic county residents with or without a doctor’s prescription. Residents must make an appointment for testing and provide proof of county residency and appointment confirmation.

Testing is scheduled for Tuesday, however, barring any cancellations, all slots have been filled, according to the release. Those who are unable to keep their appointments are asked to cancel so others may have an opportunity to fill those spots. If available, appointments can be made online at www.aclink.org.

A list of additional testing locations in Atlantic County is accessible at: https://www.atlantic-county.org/covid/additional-testing-locations.asp.

Also during the briefing, Murphy reiterated the states added to the list from which visitors should self-quarantine for 14 days.

Those states include: Alabama; Arkansas; Arizona; California; Florida; Georgia; Iowa; Idaho; Kansas; Louisiana; Minnesota; Mississippi; North Carolina; New Mexico; Nevada; Ohio; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; and Wisconsin.

“We continue to ask everyone who has been in one of these 22 impacted states to practice self-responsibly and good citizenship and comply with our travel advisories,” Murphy said. “This goes equally whether to you are visitor to our state or a New Jersey resident returning from one of these states.”

Also during the briefing, Murphy said that “we’re not there on fines,” when asked if the state will follow New York’s lead to fine those who do not comply with filling out forms upon coming into airports.

“We want to appeal to people’s personal responsibility to do the right thing,” he said.

Eight new positive cases of COVID-19 infection were discovered in Cape May County, according to the Cape May Department of Health Wednesday.

The eight cases were in the following municipalities: two each in Avalon and Middle Township; and one each in Cape My City, Dennis Township, Ocean City and West Cape May, the health department said.

Total positive cases of COVID-19 infection in Cape May County is now 860, including 75 deaths, the health department said. There are eight new out-of-county positive cases out of 108 non-resident active cases, the health department said.

New Jersey has 176,278 total COVID-19 positive cases and 13,660 deaths, the health department said.

South Jersey Gas announced today that it is extending its voluntary moratorium on shut offs for non-payment through Labor Day, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we move forward together, we want to assure our customers and the communities we serve that South Jersey Gas remains committed to providing safe, reliable, affordable service,” said Marissa Travaline, Vice President of Customer Experience, South Jersey Gas. “Our teams remain hard at work delivering the exceptional customer experience you deserve, from the field to the phones, and beyond, and we intend to continue working to help our customers navigate this challenging time while maintaining their gas service.”

While customers will continue to receive bills, and statements may still reference past due balances, the utility will not disconnect service for customers who have been unable to make regular payments due to impacts of COVID-19, according to a statement from the company. 

Customers are encouraged to contact South Jersey Gas to discuss payment arrangements that fit their needs and are also reminded to consider their potential eligibility for assistance programs available to help manage energy costs. These programs include the time-sensitive Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which will accept applications through the end of July.

The owners of Manco & Manco Pizza announced late Tuesday that their Ocean City Boardwalk locations will remain closed while all employees are tested for COVID-19.

The announcement came hours after the business announced that three of their employees have tested positive for the new coronavirus and they were going to close for a day to clean and sanitize the properties, as well as stop selling single slices.

“All Boardwalk restaurants will remain closed until results are received Saturday,” according to a statement from the business posted on Facebook. “Upon review of the test results, only employees with negative results will be allowed to return to work.”

Staff at the business’s Somers Point location will also be tested, but it will remain open “due to the fact that their staff exclusively works in the Somers Point location,” according to the statement.

Wes Kazmarck, president of The Ocean City Boardwalk Merchants Association, said the business "is to be commended" for quickly taking action.

"We know the virus is still out there, which is why all Boardwalk merchants have safety protocols in place, including social distancing, requiring masks and hygiene protocols for employees," Kazmarck said in a statement. "Manco & Manco is to be commended for taking swift action to protect its employees and customers, and we wish the affected employees a speedy recovery.

"Please keep your distance," he continued. "Wear a mask. Wash your hands frequently. And help us enjoy the Boardwalk safely this summer."

Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties announced on Wednesday their upcoming virtual programs.

"Here’s your chance to participate in unique and entertaining activities while continuing to socialize safely at home," according to a news release from the organization. "In August, the Village will host eight interactive, thought-provoking and creative programs for you."

DIY Container Garden

Tuesday, August 4 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Embrace your green thumb and join us for an informative session on creating your own manageable container garden. You’ll learn how to grow and care for herbs and vegetables for display on your porch, deck or balcony. This program is free for Holocaust Survivors and Village Members. For non-members, the cost is $5. RSVP by July 31.

The Positivity Project

Thursday, August 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Join JFS Wellness Coordinator Mary Jean Arreola and Village Membership Director Tina Serota to discover ways to boost your wellness – mind, body and soul. Each month features a new topic including self-care, mindfulness, gratitude, meditation, resiliency and more. RSVP by August 3.

Magic in Watercolor

Tuesday, August 11 and Tuesday, August 25 from 10:30 a.m. to noon each day

Join local artist Diane Hark as she guides you through the art of watercolors. Initial supplies including paints and watercolor cold press tablet will be provided to the first 11 registered participants. Attendees must supply their own paper towels and have access to a computer and printer. The class is open to all levels of experience. This program is free for Holocaust Survivors and Village Members. For non-members, the cost is $5. RSVP by August 4 (for the August 11 program) and RSVP by August 18 (for the August 25 program).

Memoir Workshop

Thursday, August 13 from 10:30 a.m. to noon

Experience the thrill of capturing your life’s adventures, history, ancestry and more at our Memoir Workshop led by award-winning author and Drexel University Professor of Creative Writing, Harriet Levin Millan. You must have a laptop or pen and paper to enjoy the full experience of the workshop. RSVP by August 11.

Comfort Cuisine

Tuesday, August 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Join us as we share our favorite recipes and the memories they invoke. This month, we’ll focus on delicious Summer Soups and Main Course Salads. Be sure to send a copy of your favorite recipe to Tina Serota at tserota@jfsatlantic.org by August 11. Don’t forget to include your special memory and keep an eye out for guest chefs. RSVP by August 11.

Coffee Klatch

Thursday, August 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Our world in 60 minutes! Insightful, animated and fast-paced conversation with friends spanning “both sides of the aisle and the middle.” Share your thoughts on politics, technology, world events, the arts and more. This program is moderated by JFS Village by the Shore Membership Director Tina Serota. RSVP by August 14.

Trivial Game Day

Thursday, August 27 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

With more than 6,000 questions covering an array of topics including science, geography, history, music, theater, movies and more, you can test your knowledge and compete for the top prize during this fun program. RSVP by August 25.

Unless otherwise noted, all programs are free for community members to participate, according tot he release. However, you must RSVP to participate in any of the programs by contacting Tina Serota at 609-287-8872 or tserota@jfsatlantic.org. A Zoom link or call-in number for each program will be e-mailed or provided to you.

For information or to join Village by the Shore, contact Serota or visit jfsvillagebytheshore.org.

State officials scheduled a 1 p.m. briefing Wednesday to update residents on the spread of COVID-19.

Appearing for the briefing will be Gov. Phil Murphy, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.

Then, at 4:10 p.m., Murphy is scheduled to appear on "Closing Bell" to discuss that state’s coronavirus response, and at 5 p.m. he is slated to call in live to 1010 WINS.

So far, Atlantic County has reported 3,147 cases with 221 deaths and 1,778 cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 851 cases with 75 deaths and 655 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 2,557 cases with 140 deaths.

Source: State of New Jersey Department of Health

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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