By ERIN ROLL
New Jersey will see the building of a wind port next year that is expected to bring much-needed economic benefits to the region as the state recovers from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The construction of the wind port will also help New Jersey get closer to its goal of 100 percent renewable energy over the next 30 years, said Gov. Phil Murphy at today’s debriefing.
The wind port, or coastal facility where wind turbines are placed on offshore wind farms, will be located along the coast of Lower Alloway Creek in Salem County, and will be the first of its kind in the United States.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted that increased reliance on wind energy will have health benefits as well. She noted that 16.8 percent of deaths from COVID-19 have been in people with underlying lung conditions, such as asthma and COPD: conditions that are exacerbated in areas that are affected by air pollution.
Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the Economic Development Authority, expected that the wind port will result in $100 billion in financial investment over the next 15 years, including $300 million in green infrastructure and $500 million in new annual economic investment.
The port will be built entirely with union labor, and there will be increased effort to do business with women- and minority-owned businesses and contractors.
Monday marked the first day that restaurants were allowed to offer outdoor dining, and non-essential retail could allow customers back inside, but at limited capacity.
“Tonight is another night, and I urge you to keep it [safety measures] up,” Murphy said, addressing people who planned to go out to dinner at a restaurant or do similar activities.
New Jersey is down to 32nd place in terms of new cases, but still ranks fourth for hospitalizations, and first in deaths per day.
Murphy and health officials said they are concerned about New Jersey experiencing spikes in cases as seen in other states that have opened up, and when they would happen in New Jersey.
“I get paid to worry, and starting, my hair was as dark as yours, now it’s gray,” quipped Ed Lifshitz, the state’s communicable disease director. He pointed out that at each briefing, the governor shares stories of three people who have died from COVID-19. But what the briefings don’t show are photos of people whose lives have been saved because of actions such as social distancing and regular hand-washing.
Murphy said he has received criticism from both sides — about New Jersey reopening too slowly, as well as from those who thought the state was reopening too quickly.
If New Jersey did resume activities such as indoor dining too quickly, there definitely would be a spike in cases, he said.
Today, New Jersey health officials reported 470 new positive cases, up from 274 on Monday, bringing the state total to 167,426 cases. But hospital admissions were down. Last night, hospitals admitted 33 new patients, compared to 74 new admissions on Sunday.
As the state has seen an increase in cases, so has the county and Montclair.
The state reported 52 new deaths, compared to 51 on Monday, bringing the state total to 12,727 deaths.
On Monday evening, 1,291 residents were hospitalized with the virus, down from 1,351 on Sunday. Hospitals had 362 patients in critical care, with 245 ventilators in use, compared to 402 critical care patients and 267 ventilators in use on Sunday. Hospitals discharged 55 patients, down from the 107 discharged on Sunday.
Health officials reported a positivity rate ot 2.69 percent among test results, and a virus transmission rate of 0.69 percent.
Authorities have also identified two more cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and teens, bringing the total number of cases to 42. No deaths have been reported from the condition.
Tuesday morning, Essex County health officials reported 59 new positive cases, compared to 22 cases on Monday, bringing the county total to 18,377 cases. The death count was revised downward, from 1,747 on Monday to 1,742 on Tuesday.
Today, June 16, Montclair Health Department officials reported the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in Montclair increased from 431 to 432; the number of individuals who did not survive the illness remains at 50. After a four-day stretch of no new confirmed cases, Montclair saw a new case on both Monday and Tuesday.