Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli at the Monday, July 20, debriefing.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli at the Monday, July 20, debriefing.


Residents are without cooling centers as temperatures have remained in the mid-90s over the past few days, reaching a heat index of 110 degrees today, July 20. Due to the pandemic, many of the locations that would typically be used as cooling centers — including recreation centers, senior centers, libraries and municipal buildings — are still closed to the public. 

Montclair and the county have not set up cooling centers.

Residents are being urged to check in with neighbors and family members and to stay hydrated.


As the pandemic has created economic hardship for more New Jersey residents, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reminded residents to apply for the WIC and Senior Farm Workers Program. To date the program has issued 87,000 vouchers for seniors and WIC recipients to be used at local farmers markets, such as Montclair’s Walnut Street market. Seniors receive $30 vouchers, while WIC recipients receive $25 vouchers. 

In Montclair, the Double Value Coupon Program allows double the value of SNAP, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers up to $20.

Residents are now receiving their vouchers through the mail. For more information call 973-509-6501.


Officials said the person-to-person transmission rate, which had jumped up to 1.1 on Friday, July 17, was back down to 0.90 on Monday, July 20. Only nine deaths were reported by state health officials Monday.

The positivity rate is also declining, with 2.8 percent of tests coming back positive on Monday, compared to 3.5 percent on Sunday. 

However, officials said that a glitch at the Quest laboratory, with about 15,000 test reports that haven’t been put into the system, could be skewing numbers. Based on Monday’s positivity rate, those tests could reflect an additional 250 to 400 positive tests not being reported yet, said state Medical Director Ed Lifshitz.  

New Jersey health officials reported 177 new positive cases on Monday, down from the 202 on Friday, bringing the state total to 176,963.

Hospitalizations dropped on Sunday night with 798 patients, with half awaiting COVID-positive testing and half confirmed. Patients in intensive care numbered 146, with 72 on ventilators. On Thursday night, hospitals reported 844 patients (387 confirmed positives, 447 awaiting test results), with 139 patients in ICU and 65 on ventilators.

Of the nine deaths reported, two were from June and seven were from July. 

On Friday, officials reported 20 new deaths, of which seven occurred over the prior week, and 13 earlier in July. The state’s death toll is now at 15,715 with 13,741 confirmed COVID-related deaths and 1,974 probable COVID-19 deaths.

After reporting a one-day increase of 53 new Essex County cases on Friday, only nine new cases were reported on Monday, bringing the total in Essex County to 19,190. On Monday, the county reported 23 new deaths since Friday bringing the total to 1,854. 

Montclair health officials reported five new positive COVID cases over the weekend, bringing the total to 469. The number of deaths remained at 54.

Residents can get tested every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Essex County Weequahic Park Testing Site. The testing is done by drive-up only. On Tuesday, July 21,  4 to 6 p.m., residents can also get tested at the George Inness Annex parking lot, 141 Park Ave. Appointments are required – to make an appointment visit or call 973-324-9950.

Tests are now taking up to seven days to be returned due to outbreaks across the country. New Jersey has issued a travel advisory for travelers coming back from 22 states considered virus hotspots. Travelers from those states are being asked to quarantine for 14 days and to get tested. Flyers from those states are being asked by airline and state health officials to fill out an online survey. Local health officials will then contact the air traveler to follow up with quarantining measures and offer testing sites.