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The Wrap: Covid, Schools, Lifeguard Fatality and Other Happenings

digital 3d virus rise of the second corona wave. microbes with an upward arrow symbolize increasing numbers of infections. digital image

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Get ‘The Wrap,’ our take on the news of the week, in your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up athttps://bit.ly/3goVpVr. Learn more about J. Byrne Insurance. 

Aug. 23-29: 

We have no sign that the spike in Covid cases that began in late July will slow any time soon. Vaccination rates have picked up and vaccine requirements are on the uptick. A 16-year-old lifeguard in Cape May lost his life in a tragic accident. Schools open in a week, as the delta variant drives up community spread.  

Covid   

No sign of peaking…yet 

The numbers this week were, again, worse than the previous week. There is no sign yet when this late-summer surge will weaken. Active cases in Cape May County grew to 588. The month of August has produced over 10% of all new cases since the start of the pandemic. For three weeks running, the county reported over 300 new cases. There were three new Covid fatalities this week; seven since July 30. Cape Regional Medical Center reported 24 Covid patients, as of Aug. 27, up from 16 Aug. 20 

Vaccination requirements increase  

One impact of the surge in cases may be that it is motivating more individuals to get vaccinated. The county’s vaccination rate this past week was higher than it was all month. A growing number of cases has also led the state to require that all preschool through K-12 school personnel be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, or face frequent testing. The United Methodist Communities, a long-term care provider with a facility in Ocean City, announced that all associates must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Meanwhile, federal health officials are planning on booster shots for individuals at anywhere from six to eight months after initial full vaccination. 

Delta is changing 

Much of the summer surge was caused by the highly transmissible delta variant, which was labeled a virus of concern by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June. In just a few months, the variant has become the all-out winner in the virus wars. The most recent state variant surveillance report puts the delta variant in all its new forms at almost 94% of new cases. The variant spawned over 13 lineages, a term used to help deal with the expanding diversity within the delta variant. One of the lineages, AY.3, is credited with 13% of all new cases in a very short time. Health officials continue to advise that stopping the mutation of the virus is essential and can only be accomplished by higher rates of vaccination.  

Schools 

 

With schools set to open in a week, the virus is expanding its community spread at the worst time. An educational commitment to full-time, in-person instruction must, again, incorporate a mask mandate, teacher and staff vaccination and testing requirements, and concerned parents who do not want a repeat of last year. At a forum this week, Ocean City interim Superintendent Thomas Baruffi highlighted differences that should help avoid a repeat of the on-again, off-again experience last year.   

In Dennis Township, the governing body called on the governor to rescind mandatory Covid provisions and leave decisions up to local school boards.  

Lifeguard Fatality 

16-yearold first-time lifeguard in Cape May died in a tragic accident, when a wave overturned the lifeguard boat he was in. The city moved to name the beach where the accident occurred for the guard, Norman V. Inferrera III. Gov. Phil Murphy ordered flags at half-staff the day of Inferrera’s funeral. Over a dozen municipalities sent lifeguards to staff Cape May beaches, so that the city’s beach patrol members could attend the funeral.  

The city says it will pause the use of lifeguard boats, like the one Inferrera was rowing, while considering whether they are a necessary piece of beach patrol apparatus. Some argue that today’s engineered beaches, a product of years of sand replenishment, make the boats outdated and potentially unsafe.   

Other Happenings  

The Army Corps of Engineers announced its preferred solution for protecting New Jersey communities from back bay flooding. It comes with a $16 billion price tag, of which over $5 billion will have to come from state and local coffers.  

It is hard to recall that just before the pandemic, the worldwide recycling process was thrown into chaos when China announced it would not continue to take the majority of the western world’s recyclables. Since then, county municipalities have been limited to oneyear agreements with the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority.   

The Cape May County prosecutor issued a new warning about spoof calls, where the number on your phone ID is not the number from which the call is originating. We can go to the moon in less than a decade and develop a vaccine in less than a year, but stopping robocalls and spoofed phone numbers continues to defeat us.  

Warmer temperatures led to longer mosquito seasons. Now, health officials warn of the presence of West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis in tested mosquito populations.  

A 39-year-old police sergeant with the Middle Township Police Department was arrested for alleged witness tampering. He was suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the legal proceedings.  

survey by a national moving company shows New Jersey at the top of the list of states where more people move out than move in. This flies in the face of the fact that New Jersey was one of the states with positive net gain in population, according to census results.  

The state Oct. 1 will experience a rare event. No, not an eclipse. It is a tax decrease. The state tax on gasoline will go down by 8.3 cents per gallon. That beats an eclipse any day. 

Many residents expressed frustration with the quick collapse of order, in Afghanistan 

The county enlisted a New York law firm to aid and advise county officials on Orsted’s wind farm project. The county resolution expresses concern that proper consultation requirements have not and will not be followed by Orsted, or federal officials.  

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission issued its first set of rules for the new recreational-use cannabis industry. Licenses for growers are expected to be issued by February. 

Spout Off of the Week 

Erma – If people were honest about using the handicapped placard there would be more spaces for the truly handicapped. If you are not transporting the person with the disability, then you shouldn’t use the handicapped space.  

Read more spouts atspoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com. 

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