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COVID-19 UPDATES: Cape May County reports 4 new cases, no deaths

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Virus Outbreak-Connecticut

Cape May County health officials reported four new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including one case of an out-of-county resident. There are no new deaths. To date, there are 975 positive cases and 81 deaths in the county.

The Cape May County COVID Recovery Task Force announced Thursday that the “Safely Together” public health campaign will enter its second phase.

In the second phase, businesses are asked to commit to staying open by “Making the Pledge” to follow best practices and health and safety protocol to limit the spread of COVID-19. Individuals also are asked to follow health protocols and frequent local businesses that have “Made the Pledge”.

“We’ve been encouraged by widespread participation in the Safely Together campaign so far, and in the corresponding health metrics showing that, despite the influx of summer visitors swelling the county’s population, the spread of COVID-19 has remained reasonably slow and controlled,” said Will Morey, county freeholder co-chair of the Task Force. “The addition of the pledge is designed to extend outreach and get folks firmly in the mindset of following health protocols, which will help our community stay healthy and our businesses stay open for the remainder of the summer season."

Those wishing to participate can visit www.SafelyTogetherCMC.com to fill out a form. They are then provided with content to post on social media letting others know they will follow CDC protocols, keep up-to-date with best practices, support local businesses and do everything they can to keep themselves and others safe. 

“We’re all in this together, and the pledge serves to reinforce that we’re approaching reopening and staying open safely together as a community,” said Len Desiderio, county freeholder and co-chair of the Task Force. “We want our residents and visitors, as well as businesses and organizations, to take care of one another by sticking to the simple best practices from health experts. We can do this by working together!” 

Safely Together is a county-wide educational campaign that reinforces the message that the Cape May County community is committed to working together to ensure the safety of those living in and visiting the area.  The campaign includes digital, print, billboard, social media and broadcast ads that include various messaging regarding the importance of social distancing, wearing face coverings and hand sanitizing.

The Cape May County Chamber is trying to get funds from Gov. Phil Murphy's latest program to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murphy announced the Small Business Lease - Emergency Assistance Grant Program last week. It allows businesses in 64 eligible municipalities to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for lease costs.

None of the eligible locations are in Cape May County, where the pandemic has taken a devastating toll on local businesses already operating in uncertainty due to the area’s reliance on seasonal tourism, according to a news release from the Chamber. The Cape May County Chamber is taking action with the goal of influencing Murphy’s thinking on locations that should be included in the program.

“Our businesses need commercial rent relief as much as any of the 64 municipalities listed,” noted Vick Clark, Chamber president. “They are already struggling due to an abbreviated summer season, and we will do all we can to advocate for their inclusion,” added Clark.

The Chamber has been in communication with state legislators and business/industry associations to coordinate efforts in requesting Cape May County’s inclusion in the program, according to the release. The Chamber will continue to provide updates on progress toward this goal via social media channels and e-mail blasts.

Atlantic County officials Thursday reported 22 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths.

The new numbers bring the county totals to 3,497 and 239, respectively.

The three deaths included a 48-year-old Atlantic City man, a 70-year-old Egg Harbor Township man and an 81-year-old Hammonton woman.

Four of the new cases came from Atlantic City. Egg Harbor Township (3), Galloway Township (3), Hamilton Township (3), Hammonton (3), Absecon (2), Pleasantville (2), Linwood (1) and Ventnor (1) also reported cases.

NJ Transit is resuming the collection of cash fares and front door boarding on buses which have protective barriers installed around the bus operator starting Monday.

As part of NJ Transit’s "Your Ride to Recovery," the protective devices are being installed throughout the bus fleet to provide a barrier between the operator and customers, according to a news release from the agency. Cash fares and front door boarding will remain temporarily suspended on buses which have not yet had the barrier installation.

“Now that we’ve installed hundreds of protective barriers near Bus Operators to protect both Bus Operators and customers, we can safely and efficiently resume the collection of cash fares, following the July 6th resumption of the collection of cash fares on board trains,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “I am confident that by using best practices and health guidelines, we’ve taken the necessary steps to resume these services as safely as possible.”

Unemployed workers in New Jersey received more than a half-billion-dollars in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or FPUC, last week, with the newly expired federal unemployment supplement program driving the total amount of COVID-related benefits to $12.4 billion in the past 19 weeks, officials said Thursday.

The $600 weekly unemployment supplement that had been available since April has put $7.5 billion into the pockets of out-of-work New Jerseyans, officials said in a news release. The last day to collect the benefit was July 25, so most eligible workers will see their final supplemental payment in the next week.

Because it is a federal program, FPUC cannot by law continue to be offered in New Jersey beyond the benefit week ending July 25, unless Congress passes new legislation, according to the release. However, the payments will continue to be made on all eligible claims for the weeks ending April 4 through July 25 -- even after the program ends. About 840,000 people claimed the benefit last week.

“State and federal unemployment benefits continue to be a vital wage replacement source for so many of our colleagues, friends and neighbors,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “While these benefits are providing a safety net for countless families, we are reminded everyday that some are continuing to have issues with their claims. We are throwing every resource we have at these complicated outstanding claims, and working to get everyone a determination quickly.”

The number of new unemployment applications rose last week, with 28,063 initial claims for the week ending July 25, an 8.8 percent jump over the prior week, according to the release. That brings the total to 1.44 million new claims since COVID-19 sidelined as many as one in four workers starting in mid-March.

There is no briefing with state officials Thursday to update residents on the spread of COVID-19.

However, Gov. Phil Murphy is scheduled to appear live at 7 p.m. on “Ask Governor Murphy,” hosted by WBGO, WNYC and WHYY.

So far, Atlantic County has reported 3,475 cases with 236 deaths and 1,926 cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 971 cases with 81 deaths and 773 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 2,694 cases with 144 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.

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

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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