Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) called on families celebrating upcoming holidays Passover and Easter to adhere to new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) guidelines, including keeping gatherings to their immediate circle and moving them outdoors if possible.
“To our Jewish community, as you prepare for Saturday evening Seder in the beginning of Passover, not only do we wish you a blessed and happy Passover, we urge you to remember this cannot be as in years past,” he said at a press conference today. “We are still in a pandemic, as we all know, and we cannot risk any family Seder from becoming an event where this virus spreads further.”
Holiday gatherings must follow state gathering regulations, including the 50 percent capacity limit for indoor religious services, the 25-person limit for general indoor gatherings and the 50-person limit for general outdoor gatherings, said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
"We ask that religious leaders notify their congregations of any live-streamed or televised services that may be available and provide them with suggestions on how they can create meaningful celebrations at home without gathering with large groups," she said. "We also ask for their assistance encouraging their members and congregations to remain vigilant with mitigation efforts such as social distancing, masking, getting tested if necessary and cooperating with contact tracers."
The New Jersey Department of Health also released revised COVID-19 guidance on K-12 school operations yesterday, reflecting a recent update to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) K-12 guidelines.
The revised guidance, intended for the use of local health departments, includes recommendations to enforce a minimum of 3 feet social distancing among students in classrooms. The Department of Health and CDC continue to recommend 6 feet of social distancing for middle and high schools in high-risk regions, staff members and activities where masks cannot be worn or increased exhalation takes place.
In addition, Murphy signed an executive order today exempting stimulus payments from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 from garnishment. He said the state has received support from 49 banks and credit unions so far to protect these payments from being garnished for debts or overdrawn accounts.
“Our bottom line is that the American Rescue Plan is for the American people, not the banks and creditors,” Murphy said. “We want residents who have received funds to be able to … put those funds to use as they deem necessary.”
Murphy said the state received 3,227 new positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, bringing the statewide total to 774,100 positive cases. They have also received 1,110 new positive antigen tests, for a total of 103,836 positive tests.
There were 2,136 individuals hospitalized for the virus as of yesterday, with 430 patients in critical or intensive care and 218 patients on ventilators.
In addition, 28 new deaths have been confirmed, for a total of 21,757 deaths statewide. Another 2,535 deaths were potentially linked to COVID-19.