Public health statistics continue to improve; the rate of transmission and hospitalizations are decreasing, and vaccinations are increasing. Over 1.8 million vaccinations have been administered in New Jersey, with one-third of those second doses. Pfizer and Moderna indicated they will increase the production of their previously approved vaccines.
The Food and Drug Administration issued positive news about Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine. J&J is seeking emergency authorization for release of the vaccine; a panel of independent experts will meet February 26 to review the application and a decision could come over the weekend.
Governor Murphy Loosens Restrictions
On Monday of this week, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 225, increasing capacity limits. He also increased the number of spectators permitted at collegiate sporting events. As reported by the State of New Jersey:
- Religious services and celebrations, including wedding ceremonies, funerals, and memorial services that involve a religious service, will be able to operate at 50% capacity of the room in which they are held, with no cap on the number of individuals permitted to attend. Services were previously limited to 35% of the room, up to 150 individuals.
- Individuals attending services will still be required to wear masks and sit six feet apart from those outside of their household group.
Collegiate Sporting Events
- Operators of indoor and outdoor collegiate sports practices and competitions may allow up to two parents or guardians per each participating athlete.
- Even including this limited number of parents and guardians, the total number of individuals at an indoor practice or competition cannot exceed 35% of the capacity of the room, and any outdoor space needs to accommodate all attendees with appropriate room for social distancing.
- Collegiate athletic conferences retain the discretion to impose stricter protocols regarding spectators, including for events that take place in large venues.
Large Sports and Entertainment Venues
Effective Monday, March 1 at 6:00 a.m.
- Large sports and entertainment venues with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or more will be permitted to host a number of patrons and members of the public equal to 10% of capacity indoors and 15% of capacity outdoors.
- Facilities that host such events must ensure that all attendees at the event remain six feet apart from other attendees, except that individuals who purchase or reserve tickets together may be seated together. Attendees will also be required to wear masks within the facility, except when eating or drinking.
Murphy also noted that he expects indoor dining restrictions will be further loosened, perhaps increasing indoor capacity to 50% "sooner than later."
Murphy noted that the appearance of faster-spreading variants has tempered the ability to open up to a greater degree. This caution has been seconded by COVID researchers, who are divided on whether the worst is behind us – or yet to come. Many experts offer that the best solution is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, while continuing existing health and safety habits.
All of this is incredibly encouraging news. As one health expert recently said “It’s a light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s still a very long tunnel.”
Looking Ahead, Remaining Vigilant
All this news helps further inform us as we conduct our plans and preparations for the upcoming academic year. It also shows, once again, the ever-changing nature of the pandemic and the importance of our flexibility and adaptability in planning and actions.
Better days are ahead. But they are not here yet. Please continue to do your part. Do not let your guard down. Do not fall victim to pandemic fatigue.Please continue to follow the Seton Hall Pledge.
Click here to learn when you will be eligible for the vaccine. Please carefully check the guidelines; you may be eligible earlier than you realize.
In addition to the state’s vaccination web site, you can find valuable vaccination information through each of the state’s county web sites. Note that the state site is a pre-registration, designed to help you know when you are eligible. It does not register you to receive the vaccination.
Essex County has received high marks for its vaccination process. You can learn more at the Essex County COVID site.
Keeping Ourselves and Each Other Healthy
New Jersey strongly discourages all non-essential interstate travel at this time.
Remember to use #CampusClear every day, whether coming to campus or not.
Students: remember that Health Services offers a wide array of testing and other health and safety services. They are here to help you. In addition to the existing surveillance testing, students may request to be tested as frequently as once per week.
Your health and safety remain paramount in Seton Hall’s planning and actions. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact the HICT here.
Shawna Cooper-Gibson, Ed.D.
Vice President of Student Services
Vice President of University Relations
Co-chairs, Health Intervention and Communication Team
Categories: Campus Life