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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Murphy: Administration will review request to loosen disabled adult day program reopening guidelines

By Nikita Biryukov, April 01 2021 1:45 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy said his administration is reviewing Republican requests to loosen reopening guidelines for day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, but it’s not clear any immediate changes are forthcoming.

“The mental health stress on everybody has been overwhelming, and then when you go to communities which have a particular challenge, which their letter alluded to, it’s even more acute,” Murphy said, referring to a March 29 letter sent by State Sen. Tony Bucco (R-Boonton). “So it’s something our team is obviously going to take very seriously and look at.”

Under guidelines released by the Division of Developmental Disabilities, a part of the Department of Human Services, earlier this month, the day programs must close in regions with high levels of virus activity.

Bucco and State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) called for the administration to loosen those guidelines Wednesday, cautioning the restrictions could harm adults with developmental disabilities who’ve been unable to access the day programs for months.

The most recent COVID-19 activity level index report (CALI), released this week for the week ending March 27, saw high activity levels in all six of the state’s regions.

That means no day programs can open, and the state’s moderate virus forecast modelling estimates cases won’t peak until April 18, though compliance with social distancing and masking guidelines can push that date in either direction.

“I hope, over time, we’re able to open the whole darn place up,” Murphy said. “The question is the pace and how much and how soon.”

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