Perth Amboy School District Mask Optional as of March 7

The Perth Amboy Schools Superintendent released a letter this past week Feb 23 saying that the school district will be mask optional starting March 7, citing the low number of COVID cases. Some parents on facebook said they did not agree with this decision and that there was no community engagement in making the decision. According to the letter children do not have to wear masks when in the classroom but will have to wear them when they go on their buses. The next school board meeting is March 10 at 5:30pm and school board members suggested that parents come to make their voices heard.

Gov. Phil Murphy decided earlier this month to lift the mask mandate for schools effective March 7, but left if up to local school districts to decide if they wanted to keep it or not. Statewide it was reported that 2 out of 3 children were not vaccinated. In Perth Amboy, to date, only 65% of youth 12-17 are fully vaccinated and the overall fully vaccinated rate is 66%. Boosters are also available now for youth 12 and up. The vaccine is effective and is free and readily available. To be considered fully vaccinated to receive the most protection benefits, a person needs 2 doses of the vaccine. Vaccination of youth 5 and up is important and needs to be addressed.

The State Department of Public Health came out with some guidance about the need to develop strategies for when variants emerge and if cases increase. During periods of heavy transmission, universal masking is recommended.

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How to Apply for Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance Funds

New Jersey’s Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program has funds for eligible homeowners who have experienced a significant decrease of income or increase of expenses due to COVID-19 and have as a result fallen behind on their mortgage payments.

Funds are available up to $35,000 per household to cover:

  • Mortgage reinstatement assistance
  • Other eligible housing related costs, including:
  • Escrow shortages
  • Delinquent property taxes
  • Municipal or tax liens
  • Up to four future mortgage payments, inclusive of principal, interest, taxes and homeowner’s insurance

If eligible, you could receive up to $35,000 in the form of a three-year forgivable loan, with no interest or payments due. If the property is sold, transferred, or refinanced (except for refinances for a lower rate and/or shorter term) or you do not maintain the property as your primary residence during the three (3) year term of the mortgage and note, you must repay the ERMA Program funds.

Application for funds is available here https://www.njerma.com

You can also email the ERMA team at HAFServicing@njhmfa.gov or call us at (855) 647-7700 between the hours of 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday.

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How Anti Vax Misinformation Impacts Perth Amboy

The Princeton based Rita Allen Foundation financed a study on covid misinformation on social media and how it impacts specific communities. The combined research is meant to provide insight to journalists, researchers and people in public health who want to understand and potentially act on problematic vaccine narratives as they relate to Hispanic people in the US. Perth Amboy is looking into developing its own Health Department, and this department could use this study to help strengthen our COVID response.

The study, A Limiting Lens: How Vaccine Misinformation Has Influenced Hispanic Conversations Online, has shown that anti vaccination narratives concerning alleged “alternative treatments” were found to be among the most influential vaccine misinformation in Spanish-language online spaces. Narratives concerning the safety of Covid-19 vaccines were among the most widespread and impactful misinformation on social media. Additionally, satirical and sarcastic posts featured heavily in vaccine-related Spanish-language conversations on social media. Mocking the vaccine information to discredit it has been common.

If you look anywhere online in Perth Amboy circles, you can see these types of comments under both English and Spanish posts about getting the vaccine. Confronting this misinformation can help save lives in Perth Amboy. Hispanic people face a greater risk of catching and dying from COVID in the US. Spreading misinformation about the vaccine can impact others belief systems and may result in them not getting vaccinated based on the misinformation.

An action step to stop the spread of misinformation on covid vaccines on social media is to delete the comments or posts that contain any of the false narratives listed above. Local, county, state and city health posts could have comments disabled under health information so as to stop the spread of false vaccine information. A local health department could help to develop a strategy to increase the vaccination rate by addressing misinformation about the vaccine and help protect the community.

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Local School Mask Mandate in Hands of School District

Governor Murphy has said the statewide school mask mandate will be lifted March 7, but said the decision on what to do locally will be the decision of the Perth Amboy School District. Local school officials will have the power to decide whether to keep mask mandates for students, teachers and staff.  This decision comes at a time when it is reported that nearly 2 of 3 NJ kids have not received COVID vaccine. The CDC currently does not recommend lifting indoor public mask mandates.

Its been reported that the Omicron variant has been particularly lethal to people over 75, the unvaccinated and the medically vulnerable, according to doctors and public health officials. That was true in Perth Amboy. In January, 4000 people had covid and 29 covid deaths were reported and the case and death toll continued to rise higher into February. Countless stories of people with compromised immune systems who had weeks of illness. The transmission rate has dropped to .5 and the cases have dropped as well, as the variant went its course.

The PAPS website has no current updates on covid numbers or plans for masks or efforts to increase student vaccination numbers. School were remote in Perth Amboy until January 31 2022 due to covid and the district said it was following the county health department guidance.

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Founded 2016 Perth Amboy, NJ