NJ COVID latest: Monday, May 17, 2021

New Jersey teen gets COVID vaccine in West New York

Alejandro Garcia, 16, receives his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, New Jersey, April 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW JERSEY — Below you will find the most up-to-date information on coronavirus news impacting New Jersey. You can find additional resources and coverage on our coronavirus page.

COVID-19 updates from Gov. Phil Murphy

Breaking schools update: All students will return to school for full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 academic year.

  • Gov. Murphy’s executive order that allowed school districts to provide remote instruction under certain circumstances will expire at the end of this current academic year.
  • “Neatly stated, through this action, we are declaring that all students will be back in school for full-time, in-person instruction come the start of the 2021-2022 school year,” Murphy said.
  • The announcement also includes the removal of the state’s full-time remote learning option for families. Next year, parents will not be able to broad-scale opt their child out of in-person instruction as was allowed during this school year, Murphy said.
  • This year’s summer school programs are not impacted by this announcement.
  • “We know that we can get back fully in-person safely, with the right protocols in place, and that is what we should all be planning to do,” Murphy said. “Of course, we will continue to follow the science, and should there be a localized outbreak or other emergency, we will act accordingly. Otherwise, buildings will be fully open.”

Breaking mask update: Murphy will sign an executive order Monday that eliminates the state’s outdoor mask mandate in settings open to the public, however, the indoor mask requirements will remain in effect despite the CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated Americans.

  • Murphy said the updated CDC guidance on masks is clear, but the majority of New Jersey residents remain unvaccinated, and keeping the indoor mandate protects everyone.
  • “We’re not checking anyone’s vaccine status at the door when you go to the supermarket or the hardware store,” the governor said. “I don’t know how we can expect workers to be able to tell who is vaccinated from who isn’t. And, it is unfair to put the burden on business owners and frontline employees to police every patron.”
  • Certain high-risk settings such as child care, schools, nursing homes and correction facilities should continue to require or “strongly encourage” masks for all individuals because of the vulnerable nature of those populations.
  • Murphy also indicated indoor private settings are not as much of a concern regarding mask-wearing as indoor public settings such as retail stores.
  • The governor acknowledged this decision goes against decisions by the governors of New York and Connecticut, who have announced they will follow the CDC guidance. Murphy said while he continues to work closely with both leaders, keeping the indoor mask mandate was something he felt strongly about given New Jersey’s vaccination numbers and COVID hospitalization data.

Breaking travel update: New Jersey will lift its travel advisory effective immediately. There will no longer be required periods for quarantine for either out-of-state travelers coming to New Jersey or for New Jersey residents returning from trips elsewhere.

  • However, the governor encouraged everyone to “exercise common sense,” while traveling and follow all local health and safety protocols.
  • “And if your goal is international travel, recognize that the COVID reality in many nations is much different than here, and adhere to the travel guidance and advisories posted by the United States Department of State,” Murphy added.

Ending public health emergency: Murphy said he’s working with the state Legislature to draft a legislative solution that will allow the public health emergency first declared in March 2020 to expire in June while providing a path forward to ensure that the state maintains the necessary tools to protect the public’s health and safety for the duration of the pandemic.

COVID vaccine latest in New Jersey

  • As of Monday morning, 8,023,354 total doses have been administered statewide and 3,867,148 New Jersey residents were fully vaccinated.

Update: New COVID cases, hospitalizations, deaths

  • 490 positive PCR tests
  • 883,272 total PCR tests
  • 66 new positive antigen tests
  • 127,834 total antigen tests
  • 827 COVID patients hospitalized
  • 188 COVID patients in ICUs
  • 125 ventilators in use
  • 13 new lab-confirmed COVID deaths
  • 23,327 total lab-confirmed fatalities
  • 2,648 additional probable deaths
  • The statewide rate of transmission was 0.59
  • The positivity rate for all 33,479 PCR tests recorded on May 13 was 2.73%

Children should wear masks in schools: CDC

Schools in the United States should continue to use masks for the 2020-2021 academic year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Saturday.

The CDC in its latest guidance said all kindergarten through grade 12 schools “should implement and layer prevention strategies and should prioritize universal and correct use of masks and physical distancing.”

Vaccinated? Here’s how to score some freebies

A handful of nationwide businesses are incentivizing people to get the COVID-19 vaccine by offering free goods, from beer to dessert-on-a-stick. Click here for a full list of freebies to take advantage of.

Can I still spread COVID if I’m vaccinated?

At the start of the vaccination drive in the United States, it was altogether unknown whether the COVID-19 vaccines would prevent transmission of the virus. But recently, thanks to a series of studies, we’re getting greater clarity about the potential for fully vaccinated people to spread the vaccine.

Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Publix to drop mask mandate

Following the CDC’s relaxed guidance on wearing masks, some retail stores and businesses are continuing their mandates to ensure the safety of customers and employees. Others like Walmart and Costco have dropped their requirements. Click here to see a full list of updated store policies.

NJ keeping mask mandate in most indoor settings

New Jersey residents should plan to continue to wear masks in most indoor situations, at least for the near future, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday despite loosened guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Murphy said he believes the state will get to the CDC’s new guidelines on masks “in short order,” but added that people should still wear masks if they’re indoors unless they’re with people in their “bubble.”

He also announced he intended to allow the state’s public health emergency related to COVID-19 to expire in mid-June.

Saturday’s official numbers:

As of Sunday, there have been 882,973 total positive PCR tests in the state since March 2020, and there have been 23,313 lab-confirmed coronavirus deaths, according to the state Health Department.

COVID-19 timeline: How novel coronavirus spread

Tips to protect yourself and others amid coronavirus outbreaks

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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