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COVID-19 UPDATES: Cape May County reports four cases Friday

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Virus Outbreak-Connecticut

Cape May County health officials reported four new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including one out-of-county resident, bringing the county-wide total to 1,006. The cases were reported in Lower Township, Middle Township, Upper Township and West Wildwood. The county stands at 82 virus-related deaths.

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 384, bringing the total to 184,061, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday. There have been 12 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 14,007.

There are 551 people hospitalized across the state, including 120 people in intensive care and 74 people on ventilators, Murphy said.  

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.

"We continue to work together as one family to beat this virus," he said. "Right now, we need to dig a little deeper. I know we’re all getting a little fatigued, but we cannot give coronavirus one more inch. Let’s keep doing what we need to do to get our numbers back down."

Murphy also announced the creation of a new Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program. The program will take $25 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and provide emergency grant funding to small rental apartment building owners for rent losses between April and July during the pandemic.

"The majority of low- and moderate-income renters live in buildings with between three and ten rental units," Murphy said. "By assisting small landlords, we’re helping to secure quality rental housing by protecting their investment in the maintenance of their properties."

Landlords who receive assistance through the program must then pass along the benefits to their tenants by forgiving outstanding back rent and late fees accumulated during the same period, the governor said.

"Through this assistance, we can help directly support COVID-impacted renters by having outstanding back-rent forgiven and reducing the risks for evictions once the statewide moratorium expires," he said. "Our eviction moratorium remains firmly in place, protecting tenants from being removed during the pandemic. Tenants for whom evictions have been filed may choose to participate in court mediation purely at their option. Choosing not to do so will not lead to eviction."

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver said the program is about supporting small residential property owners who are at times the most vulnerable during a economic crisis because they are locked out of capital and federal resources.

"The research that we have done shows that they are less likely to qualify for federal housing assistance as well as mortgage forbearance programs," she said. 

The state also added a contact tracing dashboard that will allow everyone to see where the 1,344 contact tracers are currently on the job.

There are currently 15 contact tracers on-the-ground, across the state, for every 100,000 residents. More contact tracers will be added until every county hits the 15-per-100,000 threshold. More will be added after that.

According to the dashboard, 63% of those who were called by a contact tracer were successfully reached, and about half of them were notified of their exposure. The greatest challenge to contact tracing has been from people not answering the phone or refusing to assist contact tracers, and 45% of those who have tested positive and answered the call refused to provide any contact information to our contact tracers.  

The dashboard will be updated every Friday.

"Contact tracing is about public health. Period," Murphy said. "No one is out on a witch hunt. No one is asking questions that have any focus other than trying to stop the spread of this virus."

The Department of Labor also reported than more than 1.3 million New Jerseyans were deemed eligible for monetary benefits through the unemployment system and 96% of them have received payment, Murphy said. More than $13.2 billion has been released into the pockets of state residents.

"The report showed a more than 40% decrease in the number of initial unemployment claims," he said. "This is the lowest number we’ve seen since March and before the pandemic hit. While we certainly have a long way to go, this decrease offers a glimmer of hope."

The governor also called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for not working to renew federal unemployment benefits as New Jersey families are not receiving $600 less a week as the pandemic continues.

"Mitch McConnell may have forgotten that while he gets paid no matter what, millions of taxpayers who fund his salary – and their families – are hurting and need help yesterday," he said. "Congress needs to extend federal unemployment benefits, and the president needs to sign this, now. Congress needs to provide direct assistance to states. COVID-19 hasn’t cared if it ravages a blue state or a red state, and neither should Congress."

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission announced Friday that renewal deadlines for disability placards has been extended.

An Executive Order, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, extends the time for individuals to apply for renewed disability placards until 90 days after the last day of the public health emergency. The COVID-19 public health emergency remains in effect after being declared by Murphy on March 9.

"This action provides relief to drivers with disability placards, extending the time required to apply for renewals,"said MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “It allows us at MVC to continue cutting through the backlog of renewal applications, while giving our customers some peace of mind as we navigate a COVID-19 world together.”

Atlantic County health officials reported no new COVID-19 related deaths for the sixth consecutive day. There are also 39 additional residents who have recovered.

An additional 13 new positive cases were reported on Friday. The cases were among six males, ages 6-66, and seven females, ages 10-66.

There were three cases in Absecon, two each in Egg Harbor Township and Pleasantville, and one each in Atlantic City, Brigantine, Galloway, Hamilton Township, Somers Point and Ventnor.

Since March, 3,637 residents have been confirmed positive, of whom 2,057 have recovered. There are a total 241 COVID-19 deaths in the county.

Atlantic 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, each Tuesday in August from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. 

The test site is 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. Appointments can be made online at www.aclink.org

The Cumberland County judiciary is hosting a seminar for renters facing eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many folks are unable to pay their rent and are concerned about eviction," according to a post shared on the county Prosecutor's Office Facebook page. "This seminar will provide county specific information about resources available to help those facing eviction for non-payment of rent."

Vicinage 15, which is made up of Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem counties, will be hosting three webinars for landlords and tenants.

Vicinage Special Civil Part judges and staff will explain current landlord/tenant court procedures, and Legal Services of South Jersey, County Boards of Social Services, Catholic Charities and other community providers will provide information about available resources, according to the post.

While each seminar will provide county-specific information, attendees may register for any county, regardless of residency, officials said. There is no limit to the number of seminars attendees may register/attend.

These events are free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Cumberland County: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Aug. 25.

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

Appearing for the briefing will be Gov. Phil Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.

It will be livestreamed here.

So far, Atlantic County has reported 3,624 cases with 241 deaths and 2,018 cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 1,001 cases with 82 deaths and 843 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 2,826 cases with 146 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.

What is your school district's reopening plan?

Contact: 609-272-7241

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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