At Monday's COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that mandatory benchmarks will be in place to safely reopen long-term care facilities to visitors.
"Over the past five months, COVID-19 has greatly impacted our long-term care facilities," he said. "This is not a New Jersey-specific tragedy, but we are determined to be a leader in showing a better way forward."
To help those facilities, 30 million pieces of Personal Protective Equipment have been distributed, 310,000 residents and 495,000 staff have been tested, 450 infection control surveys have been completed and 3,600 complaints have been cleared.
"We’re preparing to commit $155 million to the reopening of our long-term care facilities to ensure we get this right," he said. "We will direct $25 million in CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Funding through the New Jersey Department of Health to support our new staff testing program."
The New Jersey Department of Human Services commissioner is working with the state's legislative partners on a $130 million plan to stabilize & support our long-term care facility workforce which will enabling an increase in wages while ensuring that long-term care facilities can continue to fully support their current staffs, Murphy said.
Of that $130 million, 60% must flow directly to our nursing home workforce, the governor said. The remainder will only go to facilities when they attest that they have met critical benchmark requirements outlined in the directive.
The state received 258 new positive test results on Monday, pushing the cumulative total since March 4 to 185,031. There are 545 people hospitalized across the state, including 83 people in intensive care and 29 people on ventilators, Murphy said.
Murphy reported 4 COVID-19 deaths, bringing the statewide total to 14,025 virus-related deaths.
The rate of transmission has declined from a week-and-a-half ago from more then 1.0 to 0.98.
"When you're below one that means, that only by a hair, beginning to slow the spread," Murphy said.
But we're not out of the woods, as Murphy sited news reports of young people waiting in crowded lines to get into bars over the weekend.
"Bars and patrons need to get on the same page, quickly," he said. "I’m going to give everyone a chance to do the right thing. But if we have to shut places down to protect public health, then we will. Consider this your warning before you go out drinking this weekend. By the time these patrons would have even gotten in, this virus could have already easily spread just through the line.
"Standing around maskless in a crowd outside a bar is just a big knucklehead move as standing around maskless inside one," he added.
Atlantic County health officials reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, but no additional deaths for the ninth consecutive day.
Among the positive cases are nine males, ages 6 to 83, and nine females, ages 2 months to 83. There were three each in Egg Harbor Township, Hammonton and Pleasantville, two in Hamilton Township, and one each in Absecon, Atlantic City, Buena Borough, Estell Manor, Northfield, Port Republic and Ventnor.
Health officials also confirmed 84 more residents who have been cleared as recovered, for a total of 2,141 of the 3,674 residents who have tested positive since March.
There are 241 county residents who died from the virus.
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, 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.
A list of additional testing locations in Atlantic County is available here.
Two new positive cases of COVID-19 infection — one each on Middle Township and Upper Township — were reported Monday by Cape May County's Department of Health.
Total positive cases of COVID-19 infection in Cape May County is now 1,012, including 82 deaths, the county said.
There are eight new out-of-county positive cases, the county said.
New Jersey has 185,031 total COVID-19 positive cases and 14,025 deaths.
The reopening of computer labs at private and public colleges and universities in New Jersey has been authorized by an executive order Monday from Gov. Phil Murphy and Superintendent of the State Police Col. Patrick Callahan.
The order takes effect at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
Computer labs at public and private colleges and universities must abide by the health and safety protocols as well as santiization requirements that are described in the administrative order.
Gov. Phil Murphy will hold his COVID-19 briefing at 1 p.m. on Monday. The livestream can be watched here.