Categories
Covid-19 Recent News

COVID-19 Update: Cases, Trends; Hospital Census & Cases by County

COVID-19 updates and data.

This post is updated every day as updated information becomes available. Scroll through as post is organized:

  1. Camden County
  2. Gloucester County
  3. Statewide Data

Editor’s Note: Camden County recently announced that new cases and deaths in the County will no longer be announced on weekends or holidays. All weekend cases and deaths will be announced on the next business day and will be properly attributed to the day they were received.

Camden County:

On October 27, 2020 the Camden County Department of Health announced 89 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Camden County.

This brings the aggregate number of confirmed positive cases to 12,225 in Camden County today and 575 total fatalities.

“Countries in Europe are reinstituting lockdowns, hospitalizations in parts of the United States are spiking, the city of Newark is entering a new round of restrictions on nonessential businesses, and officials in Philadelphia are now recommending the cancellation of holiday family gatherings,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “If we are rounding the corner on this pandemic, then we are rounding it into another stretch of very difficult times, not to the finish line. I know that we are all tired of dealing with this virus, but if we do not make voluntary sacrifices immediately, then we will lose control of this pandemic again. Do not host or attend gatherings indoors, wear a mask whenever you’re in close proximity to others, and work with our contact tracing team when they call.”

The Department of Health is announcing 89 additional positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) identified in Camden County. Trace investigations are being facilitated with the patients and remain ongoing.

In addition, the county Department of Health is also announcing 1,544 confirmed resident cases and 651 staff cases have occurred out of the aggregate case load of 12,225 in our 56 long-term care facilities. At this time, 341 resident deaths have been reported from these facilities, as well as three staff deaths, out of our 575 total fatalities countywide.

New Patient 1: MALE, 70s, AUDUBON BOROUGH 
New Patient 2: MALE, 30s, AUDUBON BOROUGH 
New Patient 3: FEMALE, 30s, AUDUBON BOROUGH 
New Patient 4: MALE, 60s, BARRINGTON BOROUGH 
New Patient 5: FEMALE, 60s, BARRINGTON BOROUGH 
New Patient 6: MALE, 40s, BARRINGTON BOROUGH 
New Patient 7: MALE, 40s, BELLMAWR BOROUGH 
New Patient 8: MALE, 50s, BELLMAWR BOROUGH 
New Patient 9: FEMALE, 40s, BELLMAWR BOROUGH 
New Patient 10: MALE, 60s, BELLMAWR BOROUGH 
New Patient 11: FEMALE, 30s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 12: FEMALE, 40s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 13: MALE, 50s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 14: MALE, 30s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 15: FEMALE, 20s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 16: FEMALE, 30s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 17: MALE, 60s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 18: FEMALE, 40s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 19: FEMALE, 20s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 20: FEMALE, 60s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 21: MALE, 70s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 22: FEMALE, 20s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 23: MALE, 10s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 24: FEMALE, 40s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 25: FEMALE, 40s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 26: FEMALE, 60s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 27: MALE, 30s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 28: FEMALE, 40s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 29: MALE, 50s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 30: MALE, 10s, CAMDEN CITY 
New Patient 31: FEMALE, 40s, CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 32: MALE, JUVENILE, CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 33: MALE, 40s, CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 34: FEMALE, 20s, CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 35: FEMALE, 10s, CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 36: MALE, 50s, CHERRY HILL TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 37: FEMALE, 90s, GIBBSBORO BOROUGH 
New Patient 38: FEMALE, 30s, GIBBSBORO BOROUGH 
New Patient 39: FEMALE, 20s, GLOUCESTER CITY 
New Patient 40: MALE, 40s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 41: MALE, 70s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 42: FEMALE, 40s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 43: MALE, 20s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 44: FEMALE, 70s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 45: MALE, 70s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 46: FEMALE, 10s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 47: MALE, 20s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 48: FEMALE, 20s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 49: MALE, 10s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 50: FEMALE, 70s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 51: MALE, 10s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 52: FEMALE, 40s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 53: MALE, 30s, GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 54: FEMALE, 20s, HADDON TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 55: FEMALE, 20s, HADDON TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 56: FEMALE, 30s, LAUREL SPRINGS BOROUGH 
New Patient 57: FEMALE, 70s, LAWNSIDE BOROUGH 
New Patient 58: FEMALE, 70s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 59: MALE, 20s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 60: FEMALE, 20s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 61: FEMALE, 20s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 62: FEMALE, 20s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 63: FEMALE, 50s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 64: FEMALE, 20s, LINDENWOLD BOROUGH 
New Patient 65: FEMALE, 60s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 66: FEMALE, 60s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 67: MALE, 30s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 68: FEMALE, 30s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 69: MALE, 10s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 70: FEMALE, 60s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 71: FEMALE, 50s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 72: MALE, 20s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 73: MALE, 50s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 74: MALE, 30s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 75: MALE, 50s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 76: MALE, 60s, PENNSAUKEN TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 77: MALE, 20s, SOMERDALE BOROUGH 
New Patient 78: FEMALE, 20s, SOMERDALE BOROUGH 
New Patient 79: MALE, 30s, SOMERDALE BOROUGH 
New Patient 80: FEMALE, 40s, SOMERDALE BOROUGH 
New Patient 81: MALE, 40s, SOMERDALE BOROUGH 
New Patient 82: MALE, 70s, WATERFORD TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 83: FEMALE, 60s, WATERFORD TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 84: MALE, 50s, WINSLOW TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 85: MALE, 40s, WINSLOW TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 86: FEMALE, 30s, WINSLOW TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 87: FEMALE, 50s, WINSLOW TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 88: FEMALE, 40s, WINSLOW TOWNSHIP 
New Patient 89: MALE, 20s, WOODLYNNE BOROUGH

The county Health Department is currently working to trace close contacts of these newest cases. The investigations are still ongoing, and we will update the public with new developments as the information is gathered by our investigators.

For those residents who are having difficulty coping with the COVID-19 crisis, please call the Mental Health Association in New Jersey, Inc. at (877) 294- HELP (4357) between the hours of 8AM to 8PM for emotional support, guidance and mental health referrals as needed. For additional information and services, call Camden County’s Office of Mental Health & Addiction at (856) 374-6361.

Residents should call 9-1-1 during emergencies only, for those with questions or concerns related to the coronavirus, call the free, 24-hour public hotline at 2-1-1 or 1-800-962-1253, or text NJCOVID to 898-211.

CAMDEN COUNTY COVID-19 CASES BY TOWN

Audubon Boro
Cases: 116
Deaths: 4

Audubon Park Boro
Cases: 8
Deaths: 0

Barrington
Cases: 70
Deaths: 3

Bellmawr
Cases: 224
Deaths: 9

Berlin Boro
Cases: 131
Deaths: 9

Berlin Twp.
Cases: 68
Deaths: 0

Brooklawn
Cases: 32
Deaths: 0

Camden City
Cases: 3,130
Deaths: 87

Cherry Hill
Cases: 1,622
Deaths: 157

Chesilhurst
Cases: 34
Deaths: 1

Clementon
Cases: 124
Deaths: 3

Collingswood
Cases: 214
Deaths: 13

Gibbsboro
Cases: 27
Deaths: 0

Gloucester City
Cases: 164
Deaths: 4

Gloucester Twp.
Cases: 1,256
Deaths: 62

Haddonfield
Cases: 137
Deaths: 5

Haddon Heights
Cases: 67
Deaths 3

Haddon Township
Cases: 159
Deaths: 5

Hi-Nella
Cases: 6
Deaths: 1

Lawnside
Cases: 92
Deaths: 1

Laurel Springs
Cases: 30
Deaths: 1

Lawnside:
Cases: 92
Deaths: 1

Lindenwold
Cases: 639
Deaths: 8

Magnolia
Cases: 46
Deaths: 0

Merchantville
Cases: 85
Deaths: 1

Mt. Ephraim
Cases: 55
Deaths: 2

Oaklyn
Cases: 43
Deaths: 1

Pennsauken
Cases: 1,124
Deaths: 26

Pine Hill Boro
Cases: 221
Deaths: 4

Pine Valley
Cases: 0
Deaths: 0

Runnemede
Cases: 123
Deaths: 5

Somerdale
Cases: 90
Deaths: 1

Stratford
Cases: 101
Deaths: 2

Voorhees
Cases: 860
Deaths: 117

Waterford Twp.
Cases: 168
Deaths: 2

Winslow Twp.
Cases: 839
Deaths: 35

Woodlynne
Cases: 113
Deaths: 1

Gloucester County:

On October 27, 2020, Gloucester County announced an additional 65 cases of COVID-19 to report.

As of October 27, 2020 Gloucester County has conducted 73,064 total tests.

Of these cases, 67,327 have come back negative.

Gloucester County’s total positive COVID-19 case count is now 5,737.

Gloucester County has reported 236 deaths. A full list including age, sex and municipality is available here

http://gloucestercountynj.gov/documents/COVID19CASESLATESTUPDATE10.27.20.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1zREqq-GqkUFqBsSNEq0wcn2ESCYDt73enGg3LRzjLIDeXtlD1E3iKqgY

Information on COVID-19 deaths in Gloucester County begins on page 116.

Gloucester County COVID-19 Cases by Town

Clayton Borough
Cases: 141
Deaths: 1

Deptford Township
Cases: 844
Deaths: 90

East Greenwich Township
Cases: 182
Deaths: 6

Elk Township
Cases: 70
Deaths: 1

Franklin Township
Cases: 185
Deaths: 7

Glassboro Borough
Cases: 779
Deaths: 8

Greenwich Township
Cases: 67
Deaths: 3

Harrison Township
Cases: 231
Deaths: 3

Logan Township
Cases: 77
Deaths: 2

Mantua Township
Cases: 275
Deaths: 2

Monroe Township
Cases: 575
Deaths: 13

National Park Borough
Cases: 49
Deaths: 3

Newfield Borough
Cases: 22
Deaths: 3

Paulsboro Borough
Cases: 104
Deaths: 4

Pitman Borough
Cases: 127
Deaths: 3

South Harrison Township
Cases: 108
Deaths: 0

Swedesboro Borough
Cases: 68
Deaths: 2

Washington Township
Cases: 980
Deaths: 45

Wenonah Borough
Cases: 41
Deaths: 1

West Deptford Township
Cases: 308
Deaths: 18

Westville Borough
Cases: 91
Deaths: 2

Woodbury City
Cases: 167
Deaths: 13

Woodbury Heights Borough
Cases: 49
Deaths: 1

Woolwich Township
Cases: 197
Deaths: 4

Statewide Data

**This post is regularly updated as new data becomes available.*

Categories
Feature Stories Recent News

Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is observed as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office is using this time to share information with our community about domestic violence in our region, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner announced.

“Domestic violence knows no boundaries.  It impacts every segment of our population, women, men, elderly, children, all races, and every socio-economic group.  The one common theme is control and how abusers exercise it over their victims.  Take a moment to understand what domestic violence looks like in your community.  Notice the signs and let’s work together to end it,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon G. Tyner said.

From January 2020 to present, the ACPO Office of Victim Witness Advocacy is assisting 1,577 new domestic violence victim cases. The ACPO Office of Victim Witness Advocacy works directly with the victims of domestic violence as well as community organizations to assist and support clients.

ACPO Domestic Violence Victim Cases 2016-2019:

2016: 766
2017: 1583
2018: 1572
2019: 2007

These Domestic Violence Victim Cases can include: warranted domestic violence disorderly offenses, violation of restraining orders and indictable offenses.

ACPO services provided to victims of domestic violence include:

  • Crisis intervention, with referrals to counseling for themselves and their children to address the chronic trauma, control issues.
  • Social service referrals and advocacy. Clients need to know what agencies are available in the community to help them, and how they can access those services.
  • Criminal justice advocacy/explanation of the criminal and family court process. Includes explaining why the police have to arrest in certain DV offenses, why the prosecutor’s office pursues DV cases, and discussing safety plans.
  • Court accompaniment to provide advocacy and emotional support
  • Advising victims of their rights as a DV victim, including their right to request a restraining order and explaining how a restraining order may assist them
  • Notifying victims of court dates, outcomes
  • Information about the VINE system so victims can be notified when an offender’s custody status changes
  • Transportation to court to provide their Victim Impact Statement (if needed)
  • Assistance with their Victim Impact statement, and request for restitution
  • Facilitating HIV testing of offenders in certain sexual assault/DV cases
  • Victims of Crime Compensation Office assistance, including advising the victim of the financial reimbursement and assistance/support they can receive from the VCCO-relocation assistance, loss of support, reimbursement for medical/counseling and other expenses; assistance with completing the VCCO application, advocacy on their behalf to the VCCO.
Categories
In The Courts Recent News

Fourteen People Charged With Scheming to Defraud Banks & Individuals With Counterfeit CARES Act Stimulus Checks

Fourteen people have been charged with scheming to defraud banks and individuals with counterfeit economic stimulus checks purportedly issued by the Treasury Department pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced on October 23, 2020.

Charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit bank fraud are:

DefendantAgeResidence
Justin Ezeiruaku23Berlin, New Jersey
Torri Pedro24Sicklerville, New Jersey
*Akume Ehoggi25Glassboro, New Jersey
Kassan Knight23Newark
Nakirah Matthews21Paulsboro, New Jersey
*Qwan Taylor22Pennsauken, New Jersey
*Kwaeson Watts24Lindenwold, New Jersey
*Nasir Johnson23Newark
*Daeson Monroe25Philadelphia
Daron Curry24Westville, New Jersey
Talib Crump26Philadelphia
*Noah Brent-Magri21Somerset, New Jersey
Isaiah White23Virginia Beach, Virginia
Ali Shoultz23Clementon, New Jersey
*denotes at-large

Knight, Pedro, Shoultz, Matthews and Curry made their initial appearances Oct. 22, 2020, by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio.

Ezeiruako will make his appearance on Oct. 26, 2020.

Crump is in custody in Philadelphia.

White was arrested in Virginia and will have an initial appearance at a date to be determined.

According to documents filed in this case:

U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) postal inspectors and special agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), uncovered a nationwide scheme involving counterfeit economic stimulus checks deposited into bank accounts with the intent to defraud the banks.

A network of individuals posted advertisements on Instagram and Snapchat offering people the ability to make “quick cash” if they banked at certain institutions.

Some members of the conspiracy acquired individuals’ banking information using a ruse, while others printed the counterfeit stimulus checks that they deposited into the accounts.

Members of the conspiracy used ATM machines, and peer-to-peer bank transfers, as well as debit cards, to make large purchases and large cash withdrawals.

Individuals allegedly financed purchases of luxury cars and also allegedly paid for their apartments with the stolen funds.

In many cases, the individuals whose accounts were compromised suffered financial losses and credit problems, while others were complicit in the fraud.

The count of bank fraud conspiracy is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited inspectors with the USPIS Philadelphia Division, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Damon Woods, and Eastern Area, under the direction of Inspector in Charge Kenneth Cleevely; special agents of HSI, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark; special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark; the U.S. Marshals Service, District of New Jersey, under the direction of U.S. Marshal Juan Mattos; the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Josh Shapiro; the Glassboro Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Polillo; the Winslow Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief George M. Smith; the Gloucester Township Police Department, Special Investigations Unit, under the direction of Chief David J. Harkins; the Pennsauken Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jon Nettleton; the Paulsboro Police Department, under the direction of Chief Gary Kille; the Lindenwold Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael McCarthy; the West Whiteland Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Lee Benson; the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Capt. James Kemm; the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Gaming Enforcement, under the direction of Lt. Kevin Conrad; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alisa Shver of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Categories
In The Courts Recent News

Craig Blickman, of Marlton, Receives Nine-Year State Prison Term For Soliciting Sexually Explicit Photos of Underage Girl Via Chat Apps

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced on October 23, 2020 that a sex offender with a prior conviction for sexual assault on a minor was sentenced to prison today for using chat apps, while on parole, to manipulate an underage girl in Wisconsin into sending him sexually explicit images of herself.

Craig Blickman, 30, of Marlton was sentenced to nine years in state prison, including more than 7 ½ years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Terrence R. Cook in Burlington County.

He pleaded guilty on Feb. 14, 2020 to a first-degree charge of manufacturing child sexual abuse material.

On July 17, 2020, he entered a superseding guilty plea to first-degree manufacturing child sexual abuse material and third-degree impairing/debauching the morals of a child. Blickman will be required to register under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.

Deputy Attorney General Thomas Huynh prosecuted Blickman and represented the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau at the sentencing hearing.Blickman was charged in an investigation led by officers of the New Jersey State Parole Board, who initially arrested Blickman for a violation of parole. Senior Parole Officer Joseph Riavez was the lead investigator.

In 2012, Blickman pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a minor and impairing or debauching the morals of a minor for sexually assaulting a girl between the ages of 13 and 15.

He was sentenced on Jan. 25, 2013 to five years in prison.

He was released from prison and placed on parole status in December 2015.

During a routine parole visit to Blickman’s residence in November 2018, his parole officer discovered that Blickman had violated his parole conditions by communicating with a minor.

As a result, the parole officer seized Blickman’s cell phone. A forensic examination of the cell phone revealed that, over an extended period of time in 2017, Blickman used chat apps to engage in sexually explicit conversations with a 15-year-old girl in Wisconsin.

During these conversations, Blickman repeatedly pressured the girl into sending him sexually explicit images of herself. Police officers in Wisconsin assisted in the investigation.

The specific police department is not being named to protect the victim.

“While on parole for sexually assaulting a minor, Blickman resumed his predatory behavior, stalking a vulnerable victim on social media and manipulating her into sending him sexually explicit images of herself,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I commend the State Parole Board for diligently monitoring this convicted sex offender and exposing his new crime. This lengthy prison sentence reflects our resolve to remove dangerous predators like Blickman from the internet and our communities.”

“This case serves as a stark reminder of the dangers children face from online predators, who use social media, chat apps, and gaming platforms to find victims they can sexually exploit,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We urge parents to talk to their children about this threat and alert law enforcement about any suspicious persons targeting children on the internet.”

“I am very proud of our ongoing partnerships with the Attorney General’s Office, Division of Criminal Justice, and the critical relationships we have with our county and local law enforcement agencies,” said New Jersey State Parole Board Chairman Samuel J. Plumeri, Jr. “This collaborative operation was one of the many indispensable efforts to help find and prosecute those who would prey upon our children. As technological advances further embolden criminals to contact children through a variety of social media platforms, we must work diligently to keep pace and our Digital Forensic Officers are at the forefront of these efforts.”

Deputy Attorney General Huynh prosecuted the case under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Jillian Carpenter, Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, former Bureau Chief Julia S. Glass, and DCJ Deputy Director Christine Hoffman, who currently is Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor. Attorney General Grewal commended Senior Parole Office Joseph Riavez and the other officers who investigated for the State Parole Board.He also thanked the police officers in Wisconsin who assisted in the investigation.

Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child sexual abuse materials on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.

Defense Attorney: Brenda Roman Maneri, Esq., Sitzler & Sitzler, Hainesport, N.J.

Categories
Feature Stories Recent News

Library Community Calls for End to New Jersey’s Digital Divide

TRENTON, N.J.—511,354 New Jersey households find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. And according to National Telecommunications and Information Administration data from 2019, 22.6% cite too high an expense as the reason they go without.

The digital divide refers to the gulf between those who have ready access to computers and the Internet, and those who do not. A clear view of the gulf in New Jersey is difficult as available statistics paint an incomplete portrait of the state of access.

Little to no data exists on the number of NJ residents that have Internet within their homes but lack the necessary bandwidth, digital literacy expertise, and/or home equipment to support online learning and work from home activities simultaneously.

Vulnerable residents typically rely on public libraries to connect to an increasingly digital society. The abrupt closure of these institutions during the 2020 pandemic along with the sudden shift toward virtual education and services has made this divide more pronounced in New Jersey. 

The Library Alliance of New Jersey, composed of the New Jersey State Library, LibraryLinkNJ, the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) and other library groups, proposes a $21 million program to assist in closing the digital divide throughout the state.

A potential source of funding could be the Federal Cares appropriation which has been received in New Jersey. Several states, including Ohio which provided $18 million to public libraries under this program, have already seen successful implementation of funding for digital equity initiatives.

Plan details have been shared with Governor Murphy’s office and are available at njla.org/digital-equity-for-all-residents.

“It is critical for library leaders in urban communities to address the digital divide and secure resources to allow residents to have equal access to technology,” said Corey Fleming, Director, Paterson Free Public Library. “We must continue to work on local, state and federal levels to ensure that the digital gap is addressed for all New Jerseyans.”

The digital divide deeply impacts communities in urban areas where economic disparity is greatest. However, cities like Paterson are not alone. Rural communities also struggle with access issues.

“The digital divide is a very real problem,” said Jennifer Schureman Brenner, Director, Cumberland County Library. “Schools have given devices to students and some major internet providers have offered free or reduced rate internet, but that doesn’t help those who live in rural places like Cumberland County.”

Brenner said that the broadband in Cumberland County is so low that it is almost impossible for many residents to find an internet signal with a hotspot let alone be able to use the free or reduced internet.

“Internet providers aren’t interested in putting money into laying lines or building towers in a community that may not be able to afford their services, or where there isn’t an abundance of population,” she explained. “The pandemic really brought this to light and many were left with no resources or recourse to access their job, school work, file for social services or attend telehealth appointments.”

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) supports increased access and equity across the state, and agrees with the following goals cited by LibraryLinkNJ’s Taskforce on Post COVID-19 Alignment, Trends & Strategies (TOPCATS):

  • Improve the technology infrastructure in New Jersey to address connectivity issues in urban and rural areas
  • Advocate for reduced rates from Internet Service Providers and for the development of need-based government subsidies to provide affordable internet options for all residents
  • Invest to assure all community anchors such as libraries, government buildings, healthcare offices, and schools have a minimum of 1Gbps Internet access
  • Invest to develop additional capacity to support free WIFI at least 1Gbps Internet access through a network of community anchors such as libraries, government buildings, healthcare offices, and schools
  • Develop a WIFI Locator tool, accessible by internet and by phone, to allow New Jersey residents to easily find free WIFI spots in their area
  • Address technology gap by providing internet capable equipment to those without, including providing funding for lendable equipment including laptops and WIFI hotspots
  • Provide access to robust digital and informational literacy training for all New Jersey residents, including a required curriculum for students K-12 (A248) taught by skilled professionals and funding for training of adults and seniors through local libraries, community colleges and human services departments

As the first steps to accomplishing many of these goals on the federal level, NJLA also supports New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and South Carolina Congressman James E. Clyburn’s Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet Plan, and the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Initiative.

For more information on how libraries are positioned to address digital inequity in New Jersey, please contact Sarah Lester, Public Policy Chair, NJLA, slester@maplewoodlibrary.org.

About the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA)

Established in 1890 and providing services to over 1,700 members, the New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) is the oldest and largest library organization in the state.

NJLA advocates for the advancement of library services for New Jersey residents, provides continuing education and networking opportunities for librarians, supports the principles of intellectual freedom, and promotes access to library materials for all.

An initiative of NJLA, I Love NJ Libraries is designed to keep New Jersey residents informed about what’s happening in their libraries. The primary goals are to: provide residents with information regarding access, events, materials, and services available at libraries in New Jersey; connect residents and library advocates with statistics and stories that support their efforts to advocate on behalf of New Jersey libraries; and inform residents of the key issues affecting New Jersey libraries.