TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy began his COVID-19 press briefing in Trenton on Wednesday, Sept. 30, by reporting on the successful reopening of schools overall in the state, despite 11 "outbreaks" of schools with two or more cases. 

“Our overarching aim remains ensuring that our schools do not become the epicenter of new outbreaks,” Murphy added. “We have in place the protocols and guidance to ensure that, when identified, a case is removed as quickly and carefully as possible from the building environment.”

He said that fewer than a dozen districts are still finalizing their written plans but all schools are open, either in-person, hybrid, or remotely.

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“In the coming weeks, we know that some of the all-remote schools will be switching to either a hybrid or in-person model as laid-out in their reopening plans. In every case, we will continue to work closely with our districts and communities to ensure a safe process,” Murphy said.

According to the governor, the reopening of schools in the state have progressed smoothly and in accordance with the plans that districts submitted to the New Jersey Dept. of Education (DOE) with minimal disruptions reported. He added that any identified COVID-19 cases quickly dealt with to minimize the potential for in-school spread.

“There have been only 11 outbreaks (more than two cases) in the state’s more than 3,000 schools,” reported Kevin Dehmer, New Jersey’s interim Commissioner at the DOE.

The governor then reported the latest state figures. The daily positivity for tests from Sept. 26th was 3%. The statewide rate of transmission remains 1.15. Nearly 16,000 lives have been lost in New Jersey since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Murphy announced 722 new positive COVID-19 test results, for a statewide cumulative total of 205,275. The top three counties for new cases are Ocean with 188, Monmouth with 75, and Middlesex with 67. Lakewood, in Ocean County, remains an area of concern.

“Lakewood is reporting a positivity rate of 27%. We are working with religious and community leaders to assess the situation further,” said NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

Quarantine States List

Gov. Murphy also discussed the latest update on the State Quarantine list. Individuals traveling to New Jersey from states or territories with significant community spread of COVID-19 are advised to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state or territory.

Arizona and Virginia have been removed from the list, while Colorado has now been added. These updates now bring the list to 34 states and territories. The travel advisory applies to any person arriving from a state or territory with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

The 34 states and territories now on the list are Alabama; Alaska; Arkansas; Colorado; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Guam; Iowa; Idaho; Indiana; Illinois; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Minnesota; Missouri; Mississippi; Montana; North Carolina; North Dakota; Nebraska; Nevada; Oklahoma; Puerto Rico; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Wisconsin; West Virginia; and Wyoming.

“We continue to ask New Jerseyans returning home and travelers visiting the state to practice self-responsibility and good citizenship by complying with our quarantine advisories to reduce the potential for outbreaks,” Murphy said.

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

The governor also announced that he has signed legislation permanently dedicating each September as Sickle Cell Awareness Month in New Jersey.

“To the individuals and families impacted by sickle cell, especially those who have been also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are with you,” he said.