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Posted on: May 1, 2021

Coronavirus Updates May 2021

May COVID updates

***Please see the latest BH COVID case numbers on our COVID statistics page here***

May 17, 2021

The Long Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 Should End Next Month, Gov. Phil Murphy and Legislative Leaders say - With the number of new COVID-19 cases decreasing and vaccinations continuing, Gov. Phil Murphy and top state lawmakers said they are working on a plan to end the public-health emergency that has given the governor sweeping powers over the last 14 months to combat the coronavirus. Murphy signed an executive order Friday extending the emergency another 30 days. But he said he would let it expire next month if the state Legislature passes legislation that gives the state the “tools and flexibility” to keep battling the virus. (nj.com

Gov. Murphy doubles down on N.J. indoor mask mandate as N.Y., Pa. switch to adopt CDC guidance - Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday doubled down on saying it’s too soon to drop New Jersey’s indoor public mask rules for vaccinated people, despite neighboring states adopting new federal coronavirus guidelines — though he did sign an executive order to formally eliminate the Garden State’s 10-month-old outdoor public mask mandate. (NJ.com)

N.J. parents must send kids to in-person school this fall, Murphy says - Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order allowing for virtual school during the coronavirus pandemic will not be renewed after this academic year, officially ending the option for online learning, the governor said Monday. “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 during a COVID-19 media briefing in Trenton

Gov. Murphy's Decision to Maintain Mask Mandates is Applauded by Food, Retail Workers Union - Gov. Phil Murphy’s decision to maintain mask mandates for everyone indoors — which goes against the recently released guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — drew criticism from those who feel the reach of government is extending too far. It was applauded, however, by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents more than 1.3 million food and retail workers, including more than 50,000 frontline workers in New Jersey. (ROI-NJ)

Small Businesses and Nonprofits Can Still Get Big Discounts on PPE Products - May 28 is the last day that small businesses and nonprofits can get discounts on personal protective equipment through the state’s PPE Access Program. For more information, click here. (State of N.J.)  

Isolated Over a Year, Reunions Now Allowed in Long-Term Care - After 14 months in various stages of lockdown, residents at long-term care facilities in New Jersey can once again hug their friends and relatives who come to visit. They can even remove their masks if everyone involved is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (NJ Spotlight News)

Hotline for Residents - The state set up a 24-hour hotline where health care professionals are answering questions about coronavirus. The toll-free number is 1-800-222-1222. From outside the state, call 1-800-962-1253

In Other News...

May 14, 2021

N.J. to keep indoor mask mandates despite CDC change -  New Jersey will still require all people — vaccinated or not — to wear masks indoors in public to protect against the coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday, even after federal health officials released updated guidance Thursday that says masks are not needed for fully vaccinated Americans in most circumstances. But those who are fully vaccinated in the state no longer need to wear a mask outside, while those who aren’t vaccinated are strongly encouraged to keep wearing masks when social distancing isn’t possible, Murphy announced.

Making it Official: Gov. Murphy Signs Order to Ease Pandemic Restrictions - Gov. Phil Murphy last night signed an executive order moving forward with the COVID-19 restriction easing announced last week. It includes an increased indoor gathering limit; and the removal of all percentage-based capacity limits for indoor and outdoor businesses. For all of the changes, click here. (N.J. Governor’s Office) 

Kids Line Up for COVID-19 Vaccine Shots - At least 900 12-to 15-year-old New Jersey kids lined up, accompanied by their parents, to get COVID-19 shots at Valley Health Plaza in Paramus onpfizer12 Thursday, with hundreds more scheduled for Friday and walk-ins welcome. (NJ Spotlight News) Union County will be administering the PFIZER vaccine to ALL eligible residents at the Dunn’s Sports Center in Elizabeth at various times over the next few weeks. Please see flyer to the right on how to book appointments. 

Lawmakers Push Bills to Combat COVID's Impact on Schools - One bill requires districts to provide summer school for lagging students. Another allows retired teachers to return on a short-term basis to fill staffing needs while still collecting their pensions. Yet another would require teachers to be trained in remote instruction. Read more here. (NJ Spotlight News) 

Here in Berkeley Heights, as COVID eases up...

Rescue Squad’s Virtual (COVID-friendly) Flower/Plant Sale Fundraiser for Relay for Life – Plant/Flower Pick-up This Sunday! You can pick up your order on Sunday, May 16th, between 11 AM and 4 PM at the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad building, located at 378 Snyder Avenue in Berkeley Heights. At pick-up, please follow social distancing rules and a mask/face-covering will be required to be worn at pick-up. If you have any questions about the plant/flower sale, please reach out to the BHVRS at (908)-464-0013. Visit and like the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BHVRS) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/bhvrs42/). 

Summer Playground Camp WILL run this year from 8:30 - 3:30pm Monday thru Friday. Please read all protocols put forth, prior to registering for camp. Protocols will most likely change again by the time camp begins and summer is underway.

Summer Concerts in the Park. This year we added some fresh new bands to the line-up which may bring a semi younger crowd.  There will be 5 weeks of concerts instead of 4. A notice will go out separately for the line-up. Please make an effort to come out and have a great time and listen to some awesome music! Every Wed between June 30th - August 4th.  

May 13, 2021

Latest From the CDC - If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can resume activities that you did before the pandemic without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, including local business and workplace guidance. If you haven't received a COVID-19 vaccine, get one as soon as you can. Learn more: https://bit.ly/3btJaFU

But in New Jersey... A little more than an hour after the federal CDC announced the update, Gov. Phil Murphy’s office would not say whether the state will adopt the changes; state officials are still examining the guidelines. NJ currently requires all people to wear masks indoors in public and outdoors in public when you can’t socially distance. The CDC’s new guidance is simply a recommendation. It would still be up to New Jersey’s government to comply with the changes. Murphy’s administration has often followed the CDC’s guidance in the past.

Kids 12 & Older Can Get Vaccinated - Did you know? Everyone 12 years and older is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky answers some common questions you might have:
• Is the vaccine safe and effective for children?
• Why do children also need to be vaccinated?
• Where can children receive the vaccine?
Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations for children and teens:  https://bit.ly/3uFSUUu



The County of Union is transitioning to a new vaccination portal that will allow greater flexibility in scheduling appointments and convenient other features such as a printable vaccination card. As the County transitions, please use the links below to check on vaccination sites, dates and availability:

Need Assistance or Want to Speak With Someone?

  • Call 908-613-7VAX (7829)
  • Monday-Friday, 9 am to 7 pm
  • Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm
  • The hotline can provide assistance in making and managing appointments for our County residents.

Age Requirements for Vaccinations

  • Johnson and Johnson – 18 years and older
  • Pfizer – 12 years and older
  • Moderna – 18 years and older

Vaccine Information

Homebound residents who have not yet connected with their local health department, or a home health agency, and who need an in-home vaccination should visit www. covid19.nj.gov/HomeboundVax or contact the call center. The state Department of Health will follow up with them to assist in connecting them with a vaccine provider.

As a reminder anyone 16 and older living, working, or studying in New Jersey is eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. The State hotline, 855-568-0545, continues to assist residents, with live agents from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., in getting information on how to register, as well as how to schedule vaccine appointments as people become eligible. The agents remind residents that there is no out-of-pocket expense to get vaccinated and that the two vaccines are not interchangeable.

All six of New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccine mega-sites are now offering walk-in vaccinations. A person does not need an appointment to get vaccinated nor do they need to be a resident of a specific county to get vaccinated at the mega-sites.

New Jersey has also launched a COVID-19 vaccine appointment finder to assist in scheduling an appointment.

May 12, 2021

NJ Cases Continue to Decrease, More Reopening Next Week - New Jersey officials on Tuesday reported another 858 confirmed coronavirus cases and an additional 31 confirmed deaths as daily new cases keep trending downward while vaccinations continue, with at least 3.5 million people now fully vaccinated at sites in the state. More here from NJ.com

Here in Berkeley Heights, we've had several days of 0 new cases and zero to no active cases. Let's keep it going, BH!!!

Big Boost: N.J. is Getting $10.2 Billion in Federal Aid this Month - New Jersey's state and local governments will begin getting $10.2 billion in federal aid this month, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Monday. Berkeley Heights is due to get about $1.3 million. The money can be used to make up lost tax revenue, fund increased health costs due to COVID-19, rehire laid off public employees, assist residents who are hungry or face eviction, help small businesses, and provide extra pay for essential workers. In addition, the money can be used to help communities hardest hit by the pandemic, including addressing long-standing problems; expanding high-speed internet; and improving water and sewer systems. (nj.com) 

 FDA: Adolescents Between 12 and 15 can Get Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine - The FDA said Monday that children 12 to 15 years old are now eligible to receive a key COVID-19 vaccine as the agency expanded its emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine previously had been authorized only for people 16 and older. Pfizer asked the FDA to broaden its emergency use authorization for the vaccine after announcing in late March that clinical trials found "100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in study participants who were 12 to 15. (National Public Radio) 

N.J. Now Shares Local COVID-19 Vaccination Rates – and It’s Naming the Towns that are Lagging  - New Jersey is sharing municipal-level immunization rates online for the first time, and naming towns that are lagging. New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Trenton saw their vaccination rates rise by 6 points since the state drew attention to their low rates. This data — which appear as a set of maps, with darker colors indicating higher vaccination rates — is just one of several factors New Jersey officials have recently added to their COVID-19 dashboard, a website designed to help the public track the state’s pandemic response. (NJ Spotlight News) 

Big Grants for Restaurants and Bars - On May 3 the SBA began accepting applications for grants under the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The program offers grants of up to $5 million to restaurants and $10 million to restaurant groups. Apply here. (SBA) 

 A Guide to Applying for the Restaurant Grants - Our April 28 webinar breaks down how operators of restaurants, bars and other eateries can apply for grants under the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. It features Al Titone, of the SBA, discussing the rules, requirements and eligibility for this federal program. Watch it here. For slides from the webinar, click here. For a U.S. Chamber of Commerce guide to the grant program, click here. (N.J. Chamber of Commerce)

The National Restaurant Association has just posted three resources for restaurant owners completing grant applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF).

  • An updated FAQ document, reflecting the latest guidance we have received from the Small Business Administration.
  • A new step-by-step guide to completing an RRF grant application.   
  • An archive of past webinars we have held with the SBA on the RRF.  Yesterday, we hosted the SBA Administrator and the President of the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance for a discussion on how the 21-day priority period works for restaurant owners from economically and socially disadvantaged communities.

The application portal on SBA’s RRF site is now live.  Even if you do not qualify for the 21-day priority period, you should submit your grant application as early as possible. 

Helpful Links:

May 5, 2021

With New Jersey Now Slated to Lift Many COVID-19 Restrictions, Here's What You Should Know - The announcement Monday that the state is lifting many COVID-19 restrictions was a lot to digest. What’s changing and when? What will be different for restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses? Here is a condensed summary. (NJ Spotlight News)  

A Detailed Look at the Easing of Restrictions - Here are the details on the state's easing of restrictions, including a removal of all percentage capacity limits for indoor and outdoor businesses, a lifting of the ban on indoor bar seating, and an end to the outdoor gathering limit. (New Jersey Governor’s Office)

Pfizer Expects to Seek Vaccine Authorization this September for Kids between 2 and 11 - Pfizer expects to apply for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine for children between 2 and 11 in September, the company said during an earnings call on Tuesday. A study to examine the safety and efficacy of the vaccine among those between 6 months and 11 years old is ongoing. Additionally, Pfizer said it's expecting to seek authorization for its vaccine among children between 6 months and 2 years in the fourth quarter of 2021. (Yahoo! News) 

How to Claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which Offers Tax Relief to Companies that Lost Revenue in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 - Eligible companies can receive as much as $7,000 per employee per quarter for four quarters in 2021, or $28,000 per employee. The ERTC has changed over time, so it can be confusing to track where things stand. Here’s what you need to know about the ERTC and how to take advantage of it. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce) 

Big Grants for Restaurants and Bars - The SBA is now accepting applications for grants under the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The program offers grants of up to $5 million to restaurants and $10 million to restaurant groups. Apply here. (SBA) 

Live Map Tracks Spread of Coronavirus in Each County  

May 3, 2021

N.J. to drop many COVID restrictions May 19 - Restaurant, indoor capacity limits eliminated, but social distancing rules remain. New Jersey will join New York and Connecticut in lifting many of its largest remaining coronavirus restrictions May 19, including eliminating set indoor capacity limits at restaurants, retail stores, and gyms, while also ending all outdoor gathering caps — though indoor mask and social distancing regulations will remain. More here.

Bar seating may return May 7! - The ban on buffets and other self-service foods at restaurants ends that day as well. “The (state) Department of Health is currently finalizing its guidance, but all impacted restaurant, tavern, and bar owners should be prepared to ensure proper social distancing between patrons at their bars,” Murphy said at his latest COVID-19 briefing in Trenton. “Either 6 feet distancing between groups seated at the bar or physical partitions.” 

Business is Increasing at New Jersey Restaurants, but Owners say they’re Struggling to Find Workers - Restaurants are calling all job candidates. Some chains, including Chickie’s and Pete’s and Wawa, are offering big incentivesto start as soon as possible. Making matters urgent, two big business days are coming - Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day. (CBS Philly) 

With Vaccinations Lagging Among Long-Term Care Workers, Residents Pay a Price - While 84% of all residents at nursing homes and assisted living centers are vaccinated for COVID-19, the vaccination rate among staff is 56%. That lag has an impact on residents. Under current guidelines, when even one staff member tests positive for the virus, facilities must shut down for outbreak testing. That means no visitors. (NJ Spotlight News) 

Despite COVID-19 Losses, Atlantic City Casinos are Reinvesting Millions in their Post-Pandemic Future - The strategy: The virus won’t last forever, and when customers do return, the casinos, dealing with competition in Atlantic City and in bordering states, want them to come to their upgraded facilities. (The Associated Press)  

Apply Today for Big Grants for Restaurants and Bars - Today, Monday, May 3, at noon, the SBA begins accepting applications for grants under the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund. The program offers grants of up to $5 million to restaurants and $10 million to restaurant groups. Apply here. (SBA) 

Union County Vaccination Site

The Union County vaccination site at Kean University is offering the Moderna vaccine, while the Dunn Center is offering Pfizer, and County mobile vaccination units offer Johnson & Johnson. A new scheduling system is on the way to allow people to pre-register for to the vaccination type of their choosing. There are open appointments are Kean; please visit the County vaccination website at https://www.ucnjvaccine.org/ to schedule. 

For those who may not have internet access, the County COVID-19 Vaccination Call Center will work to answer questions from residents who need more information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, and can also help arrange transportation if necessary for residents with a confirmed vaccination appointment. The phone number is 908-613-7VAX (7829), and the hours of operation are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

For Union County Homebound Residents...

Residents with mental and physical restrictions who are homebound may get vaccinated in their homes. Providers will bring RNs to their homes to administer the vaccine. Please call the County Division on Aging number is 1-888-280-8226, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm to schedule a visit. The Moderna vaccine will be given at the start of the homebound program; the plan is to transition to the J&J vaccine. 

 In Berkeley Heights...

  • We are working on formal hours for residents to visit our new municipal complex to conduct their business by-appointment only. Many municipal government buildings in towns throughout the state remain closed due to COVID19. Residents can continue to call and/or email the departments they need to do business with, or conduct their business online. We continue to have the dropoff box in the front vestibule of Town Hall for paperwork. The library continues to offer curbside service for our residents. Stay tuned for more details. 
  • Residents can drop their tax payments off in our old friend, the Santa Mailbox, inside the front vestibule at Town Hall, 29 Park Avenue.
  • We are now working on protocols for the 2021 Summer Playground Camp program; stay tuned for more details on this wildly popular program. The Recreation Department has also planned several Summer concerts and other great events for 2021!

Other Helpful Resources



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