Smokers in N.J. Are Eligible for Vaccine. No Proof Needed.

Tracey Tully and 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jan. 15, 2021

A vaccination clinic in Teaneck, N.J., run by Holy Name Medical Center, has the ability to administer 3,000 doses a day. But it needs more vaccine.

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Faced with soaring rates of coronavirus infection and more doses of vaccine in freezers than in arms, New Jersey officials made a calculated choice.

They opened the floodgates of vaccine eligibility on Thursday to about 4.5 million additional residents: those 65 and older and younger people with underlying health problems, including cancer, heart conditions and diabetes — diseases that can lead to severe complications from Covid-19.

As part of the expansion, New Jersey also became only the second state in the country to open vaccinations to another high-risk group — smokers. As is true for all Covid-19 vaccinations in New Jersey, no documentation of an underlying health condition is required.

The announcement came a day after the Trump administration told states to expand eligibility and to quickly use existing vaccine or risk losing future allocations.

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For many in N.J., MLK Day holds special meaning after Capitol attack

Posted Jan 16, 2021

Like Thanksgiving, New Year’s and every other holiday since last spring, Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be celebrated differently this year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic: at a social distance; behind masks; virtually; and for some maybe not at all.

But there is something uniquely poignant about this year’s federal holiday marking the birth of America’s foremost civil rights leader, in that it comes less than two weeks after an attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob that flashed symbols of racial terror in its lust to upend the democratic process that King gave his life trying to make accessible to all.

“Martin Luther King was about expanding democracy,” said Lawrence Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress civil rights group, who on Saturday will lead a march in Newark marking the holiday. “There was a whole segment of the population of the United States, African Americans, whose voting rights, whose civil rights, were being denied.”

King, who pressed for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and was there when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it, was born on Jan. 15, 1929, though the holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of January, regardless of the date. He would be 92 on Friday had he lived.

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New Jersey state offices will close on Inauguration Day, ‘given the level of tension’

01/15/2021

Politico

The New Jersey state capitol.

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New Jersey state offices will close their doors on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, and state employees will work remotely in anticipation of possible unrest in Trenton, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.

“We felt that was the right thing to do given the level of tension right now in the country,” Murphy said the end of his regular coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

“We just thought to help us facilitate any security response measures, the fewer folks in and around Trenton the better," state Police Superintendent Pat Callahan said.

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N.J. sues U.S. military, wants feds to pay for tainted drinking water cleanup

Posted Jan 14, 2021

For decades, the U.S. military used a special foam to fight fires on bases around the Garden State. That foam, and the toxic chemicals inside it, slowly seeped into the surrounding area and throughout groundwater supplies, according to New Jersey authorities, compromising the safety of nearby drinking water.

Now, New Jersey wants Uncle Sam to clean up the mess.

On Thursday, the state Attorney General’s office and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced a lawsuit against the federal government over long-standing water pollution on and near military bases in the Garden State.

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Workgroup proposes remedies for ‘toxic’ culture, sexual harassment in NJ politics

COLLEEN O'DEA, SENIOR WRITER | JANUARY 15, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Feb 11, 2020: The first hearing of the Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics

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New Jersey’s political parties and campaigns should adopt anti-harassment policies and the state’s election watchdog should get the power to investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment in political campaigns, parties and lobbying, a committee investigating the state’s toxic political climate recommended.

The ad hoc Workgroup on Harassment, Sexual Assault and Misogyny in New Jersey Politics was created a year ago in the wake of allegations of assault and misogyny against then-candidate Phil Murphy’s gubernatorial campaign and a news report on the political culture in the state. Its 76-page report, released Thursday, followed several public hearings and discussions.

Other recommendations include requiring all elected officials, candidates, party officials and workers to complete anti-harassment training, prohibiting practices that would keep complaints secret, monitoring events that have proven particularly problematic and enacting a package of bills to improve the treatment of assault victims by the criminal justice system.

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20,000: A Grim COVID-19 Milestone in NJ

By Fred Snowflack | January 13, 2021

Insider NJ

More than 20,000 New Jersey residents have now died from COVID-19.

“Let that sink in,” Gov. Phil Murphy said today.

He called the number “unfathomable,” noting that it exceeds the population of most New Jersey towns.

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Loretta Weinberg, ‘conscience of the Legislature,’ will not seek reelection

01/13/2021

Politico

Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg said Wednesday she will not seek reelection when her current term ends.

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State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a self-proclaimed “feisty Jewish grandmother” who pushed for same-sex marriage, open government reforms and helped expose a sexist culture in Trenton, said Wednesday she will retire when her term ends in 2022.

The 85-year-old Bergen County Democrat, who has been a prominent progressive voice in New Jersey politics for nearly three decades, made the much-anticipated announcement during a tearful Zoom call.

“For the first time in over 30 years, I will not be running for reelection. Maybe this is a bit more than we’re used to for what is a fairly simple statement," Weinberg said. "But then again, this is a very unusual time, and I’ve never been a standard politician.”

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N.J. unemployment: $300 checks arriving late, Labor Department ‘hopes’ payments will arrive this week

Posted Jan 13, 2021

The $300 supplemental checks that the Labor Department expected to arrive in New Jersey claimants’ bank accounts by Tuesday are delayed due to “challenges in processing the payment,” a spokeswoman said.

The complication is due to the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program running simultaneously with the prior CARES Act program that paid out $600 a week, which some claimants continue to collect, said Angela Delli-Santi, spokeswoman for the department.

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In election year State of the State speech, Murphy touts his record, accomplishments

01/12/2021 

Politico

Gov. Phil Murphy presents his State of the State address, for later broadcast, at the Trenton War Memorial in Trenton, N.J. 

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Gov. Phil Murphy delivered his annual State of the State address on Tuesday, calling for unity as he embarks on his reelection campaign in the midst of a pandemic that continues to rage in New Jersey.

Reflecting on the toll the coronavirus has taken on them, small business owners, a Trenton public school teacher who lost a loved one to Covid-19 and an emergency room nurse were among the state residents who appeared in video clips just before the governor delivered his address to an empty auditorium at the Trenton War Memorial.

“These New Jerseyans reflect the state of our state. Although wounded deeply, we enter 2021 tougher than ever, wiser than before and ready to move forward together,” Murphy said in his pretaped remarks that were delivered virtually because of the pandemic.

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'Clear and present danger to the republic': House readies bipartisan impeachment of Trump

The House intends to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday for inciting a violent insurrection that — just one week earlier — stormed the U.S. Capitol, battered police officers and sent lawmakers fleeing for safety.

The charge, "willful incitement of insurrection," is the gravest ever lodged against a sitting president.

The vote, expected in the afternoon, will be delivered in the same chamber where on Jan. 6 officers drew their guns to protect sheltering lawmakers from insurrectionists pounding at the doors. Five people were killed, including a U.S. Capitol police officer who died of injuries sustained during the riots.

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