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The Wrap: Covid, Flood Insurance, Extra-duty Police and Happenings

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Sept. 27-Oct. 3:   
Covid
County schools and Covid
It is difficult to get a handle on the extent to which Covid infections impacted students and staff at Cape May County public schools. Complicated definitions of what constitutes a school outbreak means the state Covid dashboard provides a limited view of the disease’s presence in schools.
Some, but not all, of the county’s school districts post data on Covid infections, but the intervals for posting data are different, even among the districts that do so. 
Almost 100 county students have tested positive for Covid since school began Sept. 7, although those cases have not necessarily been traced to in-school transmission.
County numbers
The Covid numbers this week were similar to last week. The county’s Oct. 1 Department of Health report shows 235 new cases compared to 233 last week. Active cases declined from 462 to 400. This week,two individuals succumbed to Covid.Last week, the county lost three of its residents to the disease. The report shows the county’s long-term care facilities have no active cases.
Vaccinations
Individuals who qualify and were fully vaccinated with Pfizer’s vaccine have begun to receive the booster shot. Expectations are that Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters will be approved soon. The county added 334 individuals to the list of those fully vaccinated compared with 415 last week. The county is slightly ahead of the state rate for fully vaccinated residents, with the state at 64.4% and Cape May County at 64.9%.
New Jersey and most of the Northeast lead the nation in vaccination rates. As of Oct. 1, the U.S. had fully vaccinated 56.4% of its population, the lowest vaccination rate among the industrial nations that make up the Group of Seven, an inter-governmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
Flood Insurance
Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) new rating system for flood insurance premiums began to be phased in Oct. 1. It will initially impact new policies. FEMA says it will also immediately allow policy holders to take advantage of decreasesto their premiums. Existing policy holders will be impacted by the rating system beginning April 1, when all remaining policies will be written under the new system at the time of renewal. 
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) expressed concern for what he terms “rate shock” under the new system. County officials are also concerned.
The issue is not just the rates that will go into effect initially, but the proposed linking of premium rates to a methodology that “adapts to climate change.” 
At each renewal, insurance premiums could be subject to a range of flood risk predictions based on a suite of models. FEMA says, “Future rates will reflect changes in the assessment of climate impact,” a daunting prospect. The law capsincreases at no more than 18% in any given year, but a few years of maximum allowable rate increases would greatly increase the cost of flood insurance protection.
Menendez fears rates will drive property owners out of the program, increasing the number of homes and businesses without flood insurance protection.
The flood insurance program is also impacted by any stalemate in Washington over the funding of the government. Congress funded the government through Dec. 3. If there is a shutdown at that point, it would negatively impact FEMA’s ability to write new policies.
Extra-duty Police
When you see a police officer in a cruiser with flashing lights at a construction site, that officer is engaged in an extra-duty assignment,ensuring the safety of the workers and those traveling the roads adjacent to the site. 
Despite some rumors to the contrary, the officer’s compensation for the added duty does not count toward their pension. The officer is not necessarily there to direct traffic, although they may do so if the circumstances call for it to maintain a safe site.
There is a fair and impartial system for allotting extra-duty assignments to officers who indicate an interest.
Happenings
A former pastor admitted to stealing over $30,000 from his parish to finance an Ocean City shore home. 
State pension funds had a productive year, with returns on investments at 28.63%, the best in two decades. That level of return, when added to the fiscal year 2022 record pension system payment of $6.9 billion by the state, should begin to strengthen the chronically weak state pension funds.
A Court House bicyclist involved in a Sept. 19 hit-and-run crash died of his injuries. The driver, a Green Creek man,was charged with vehicular homicide
In 2020, the county endured 63 deaths due to drug overdoses
For over 30 years, Avalon residents and vacationers have been able to enjoy fresh seafood at Sylvester’s Fish Market and Restaurant. Sylvester’s closed its doors Sept. 11.
One study says that as many as 16% of the county’s renters may be in arrears to the tune of almost $4,000 on average per household. This study comes as state eviction protections are beginning to be phased out.
Some Cape May beachgoers found themselves confronted by a naked man walking the sands. The man was apprehended and charged.
Plans for the redevelopment of the Jetty Motel, in Cape May, generated renewed opposition, as the developer brings an application before the city’s Planning Board this month. The plans call for demolishing the current structure and replacing it with a larger resort, complete with a 240-seat restaurant. Hundreds of residents signed a petition opposing the plan. The issue before the Planning Board is the one that surfaces with any development in Cape May – parking.
In an attempt to aid small businesses, the state announced a “Return and Earn” program, which includes a $500 financial incentive for the unemployed to reenter the work force with companies of 100 or fewer employees. The program comes as the county’s tourist season ends. 
The county’s zoo is now home to a pair of Eurasian owls. This species produces the largest owls in the world.
Spout Off of the Week
Atlantic City – In March the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a visualization study for the Ocean Wind. The study concludes that a long line of hundreds of wind turbines will be plainly visible to the human eye from Atlantic City to Stone Harbor and they will light up whenever aircraft fly by.
Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com.

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