BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
Long lines and long wait times at the Motor Vehicle Commission could be a thing of the past.
At today’s state briefing, Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator B. Sue Fulton announced plans for a phased reopening of MVC facilities that closed three months ago due to the pandemic.
“The old MVC crowded a lot of people into a lot of small spaces. We can’t operate like that in a COVID-19 world,” Fulton said. “Our reopening plan reimagines MVC workflows, with streamlined processes to clear the backlog and ensure that you spend as little time as possible at MVC.”
The reopening will begin June 15 and proceed in a way that safeguards public health and safety, and with changes to long-criticized procedures at the agency, she said.
Depending on residents’ business with the MVC, agencies will be split into two destinations — 23 licensing centers and 16 vehicle centers. Montclair residents can head to Wayne or Newark for licensing and to East Orange for vehicle services.
Drop-off and pickup transactions will be processed starting June 15. At licensing centers, MVC will be processing and validating permits from driving schools and high schools on a drop-off basis. At vehicle centers, MVC will be processing registration and title work from dealers. License plates can be surrendered by drop-off at these agencies in a designated area.
MVC will also be processing registration/title transfers for private sales by a new combination online and mail-in procedure. Customers will be able to sign up for this option at NJMVC.gov.
The agency hopes to clear up a three-month backlog from the March 15 closure.
For teens who have been waiting to get their licenses, road tests will tentatively begin on June 29. The agency plans to set up additional road testing courses at 11 colleges across the state, using bus technicians to administer the test.
Beginning June 29, the licensing centers will begin processing new licenses and permits, out-of-state transfers, and Real ID for appointments that were canceled due to the closure. At vehicle centers starting June 29, MVC will be adding individual registration and title transactions.
MVC work spaces have been extensively overhauled during the COVID-19 closure to add Plexiglas barriers and other social-distancing measures. MVC employees are returning to the agencies next week, for health and safety briefings, hardware and software reboots, and training on new protocols.
Going forward, everyone who enters an MVC agency will be required to wear a face covering; that includes customers as well as employees. If a customer cannot wear a face covering, MVC will make other arrangements for the transaction.
Customers are urged to use the online services at NJMVC.gov to renew or replace licenses, renew or replace registrations, or change their address. Customers can also contact MVC by email for help with a suspension.
DEATHS PASS 12,000 MARK
Officials reported 864 new COVID-19 positives today, June 5, up from the 603 reported on Thursday, bringing the state total to 163,336.
The number of new deaths connected to the virus declined from the 92 reported yesterday to 79 today as the state’s toll crossed the 12,000 mark, to 12,049.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said there are now 37 children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome. No deaths have been reported from the condition.
The number of residents hospitalized with COVID-19 declined slightly last night to 1,933, compared to 1,982 people hospitalized Wednesday night. It was the second straight day that hospitalizations dropped below 2,000.
Fewer people were in critical care (542) and on ventilators (410) compared to Wednesday, when 537 patients were in critical care and 406 ventilators were in use. Hospital officials reported 192 new COVID patients entering facilities and 204 discharged last night.
Whereas the rate of spread was 5.31 on March 21, the rate of the spread is now at 0.82, or below one person for every COVID-positive individual. Of tests conducted on Monday, the positivity rate was at 3.9 percent.
At 9 a.m. today, Essex County officials reported 51 new positive cases, down from the 95 reported yesterday, bringing the county total to 17,973. There were 11 new deaths, up slightly from the eight reported yesterday. The county death toll is now at 1,696.
Montclair reported three additional cases on Friday, bringing the township total to 424. The number of deaths remains at 50.
PROTESTS AND TESTING
Gov. Phil Murphy advised residents attending weekend protests to wear masks, to social distance as much as possible, and to get tested next week.
Montclair will be hosting a test center on Wednesday, June 10, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Montclair High School George Inness parking lot, located on North Fullerton Avenue. The Smith Center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health is partnering with Montclair to offer free tests to township residents. No insurance is necessary, and residents with or without symptoms are encouraged to get tested.
Appointments are required. Residents can get an appointment by calling 862-444-1189 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The testing will be conducted by drive-through only. Fifty appointments will be scheduled each half-hour, for a total of 400 tests. The type of tests will be naso-pharangeal or nasal, depending on which is available.
Residents must wear a face mask and not exit their vehicle while at the site.
Today, Murphy extended the state of emergency another 30 days.