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Nov. 22-28: 

Covid 

Numbers 

Covid case numbers are increasing across the Northeast and Midwest. Colder weather is bringing people together indoors where the highly transmissible delta variant is once again growing the infection rate.  

Cape May County’s Covid metrics are still below the levels experienced in the August and September surge, but they are up over the moderate levels achieved since early October. The positivity rate is back over the 5% threshold and now stands at 6.19%, according to Covid Act Now.  

The county’s Nov. 26 report shows the new weekly infection numbers once again approaching 200, as it stands at 184 new cases. The active case number is also up, at 267, higher than at any other point in November. The state dashboard reports that county long-term care facilities are experiencing more active cases than at any point since August, with 14 cases concentrated in two outbreaks. 

Vaccinations 

The county’s vaccination rate remains among the state’s best, with the fifth highest vaccination rate among the 21 counties. County officials report that 68% of the total population is fully vaccinated. Over 16,000 county residents have also had booster shots.  

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In its Sept. 17 report, the county said 64% of the population is fully vaccinated. The rate has hovered at about two thirds of the population without appreciably rising, even though the eligible population pool has significantly increased. 

 

New Threat 

One dynamic that animated the push to grow the vaccination percentage nationwide was the desire to slow the virus’ ability to mutate. The World Health Organization (WHO) Nov. 26 declared a new variant – omicron - as a variant of concern, placing it in the same category as the currently dominate delta variant.  

Omicron was first identified in South Africa and has already been confirmed to have arrived in Europe and Asia. Reuters reported that the variant has made it to North America, with two cases discovered in Canada. There are no confirmed cases in the U.S., but the variant’s arrival here is inevitable.  

Health officials continue to urge those who are unvaccinated to get the vaccine as quickly as possible. They argue that full vaccination is the best defense against the transmissibility of the new variant when it arrives. 

new study released by the Washington State Department of Health provides additional evidence of vaccine protection. The study says that the unvaccinated are five times as likely to get Covid and 18 times more likely to require hospitalization. 

Stronger Shores 

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd) joined several state and local officials announcing a new Stronger Shores initiative built around four pillars: Resilience, safety, conservation and commerce. The effort seeks to direct funding, especially monies available through the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, at projects that will maintain a strong coastline.  

Projects identified included the proposed $16 billion back bay protection proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers, dredging, beach replenishments, support for conservation efforts and the encouragement of shore-dependent commerce. Van Drew called the effort a “generational voyage” that has only just started.  

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While Van Drew failed to mention the construction of offshore wind farms at a news conference, Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman called the offshore wind effort an important new industry. 

 

Rain 

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shared two new studies done under the direction of a Cornell University professor. The studies argue that precipitation levels have been rising and will continue to increase to 2100.  

According to the studies, some areas could see as much as a 50% growth in annual precipitation levels with the average being around 20%. The DEP says that the new studies will inform the state’s regulatory efforts, providing guidance for future state regulations and initiatives regarding climate change.  

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Shore communities are already seeing the initial impact of a regulatory overhaul the state has termed New Jersey Protection Against Climate Threats (NJPACT). 

 

Plastics 

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America from Nov. 11 highlight a little mentioned side effect of the pandemic. Prior to the arrival of the coronavirus-based pandemic, one environmental cause that was gaining momentum was the restrictions on single-use plastic.  

New studies show that the pandemic intensified the use of single-use plastic, putting added pressure on the already problematic global plastic waste issue. One study argues that more than 8 million tons of plastic waste can be traced to the pandemic, with most of it generated from medical waste. The study’s authors say that more than 25,000 tons of plastic waste have entered the global ocean.

 

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Happenings 

Middle Township High School football gained its first league championship since 1969 with the winning of the United Division of the West Jersey Football League. The team topped off the achievement with a victory over Lower Township in the annual Anchor Bowl.  

The abandoned B.L. England plant has been sold. The vision for the site includes a hotel, restaurant, and waterfront entertainment complex. The location can also still serve as a connection point for wind farm generated electricity to enter the grid. 

Chick-fil-A has no current plans for a Cape May County location, but a Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen is scheduled to open in Court House for those who want that chicken sandwich. Meanwhile, the Heritage’s Dairy Store adjacent to the Riggins gas station has permanently closed. 

Gov. Phil Murphy earmarked $75 million for the state’s school districts with each of the operating districts in the county sharing in the funds. The amounts for county districts range from $1,500 for Avalon to $58,000 for Middle Township.  

Some residents were evacuated from their homes while officials dealt with old World War II ordnance found in Wildwood. 

The 30-year-old unsolved case of a missing Middle Township youth continues to get attention. 

A vehicle stop in Wildwood led to the arrest of a parolee who removed his ankle bracelet. The parolee is now a resident of the Cape May County Correctional Facility on a no-bail warrant. 

BLE

 

Spout Off of the Week 

Cape May - I bought a house in Cape May years ago, and therefore I should make all the rules. Rule #1: no one is allowed to build a bigger house than mine. Rule #2: no one who is richer than me is allowed to buy a house in Cape May. In fact, the city should require that all new houses, and all new owners, are approved by me. That way, we can keep Cape May just the way it was when I bought my house here, years ago. It doesn't matter if their house meets all the zoning rules, historic rules, etc. -- if I don't like it, they shouldn't be allowed to have it. I am the KING of Cape May, I make the rules! 

Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com.    

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