Child care assistance program for working families now open for enrollment

With working parents around the state looking to find child care solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday the opening of the window for applications to the state’s COVID Child Care Initiative.

“We know this is of particular importance to working parents whose children are currently learning remotely,” Murphy said. “(This program will ensure) that more working families have access to the child care supports they need and to support our vital child care providers.”

The program, which is set up through the Department of Human Services, is aimed to help families with school-age children (5-13) and yearly incomes of up to $75,000. The funds will be available to eligible residents throughout the end of the year.

As the governor announced previously, this is part of a $250 million plan to ensure working families have access to the support they need. The funding for this program came entirely from the state’s CARES Act funding. Eligible families can apply online at as long as they have proof of income and a remote learning notice from their child’s school.

Other notes from Friday’s COVID-19 briefing:

Health metrics

Another 396 positive test results have been confirmed throughout the state, bringing the statewide total of COVID-19 cases to 200,154.

The governor also announced two new deaths that have now been confirmed to be from COVID-19 complications. The total number of deaths in the state since March is now 14,278. There are another 1,791 probable deaths awaiting investigation. Six deaths were reported at hospitals Sunday, but they are not yet lab-confirmed.

Other hospital numbers:

  • In hospital: 349 (185 confirmed cases, 164 under investigation);
  • In ICU: 87;
  • On ventilators: 32;
  • Rate of transmission: 12;
  • Positivity rate: 81% (from Sept. 17).

Naloxone giveaway program

In an attempt to try and help lower opioid overdose deaths in the state, Murphy also announced that the Department of Human Services is making the drug naloxone available for free at participating pharmacies from Thursday through Saturday.

“In everything we do, it is about saving every life we can,” Murphy said. “Even as we have been battling to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, our efforts to curb our opioid epidemic has not stopped.”

Naloxone, mainly sold under the brand name Narcan, blocks the effects of opioids to the brain and is commonly used to counter potentially fatal effects of overdose. Residents who wish to participate do not need to give any payment, insurance, prescription or name to obtain the drug.

Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli joined Murphy at his media briefing and noted the increased risk of drug abuse during the pandemic.

“We know that, when individuals are dealing with mental health stressors, some may turn to alcohol and drugs to cope,” Persichilli said. “Initiatives to get naloxone into the hands of more residents are vital for battling this epidemic right now.”

Supreme Court nominations

Murphy also gave his thoughts on the recent push to fill the now-vacant Supreme Court seat left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“May the posturing that has already commenced be a cautionary tale of how our national politics have careened off the rails over the past four years,” Murphy said. “For them, this isn’t about the nation’s future. It’s a blatant power grab.”

The governor most directly referenced recent statements made by President Donald Trump and many Republican senators, mainly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, where they highlighted the need to get a new Supreme Court justice nominated and confirmed before the November presidential election.

Murphy disagreed, stating that the focus should instead continue to be on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Right now, our attention and the attention of the president and Congress should be focused on the pressing issue of getting ahead of COVID-19,” he said. “We cannot be distracted from that goal.”

Final word

Murphy on the passing of Ginsburg:

“She was a forceful and thoughtful judge and was an icon in the legal field long before she became an icon in popular culture. … She was small in stature, but she was a giant in her field and in our nation’s history. No doubt, her recent and sharp opinions will be quoted and requoted for generations — and may her memory be a blessing.”

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