With $600-a-Week Benefit Gone, Millions Face Financial Peril

JON HURDLE | AUGUST 4, 2020

NJ Spotlight

A four-year-old boy lives in a Paterson hotel room with his mother and sister after the family got evicted from their apartment because of a COVID-19-related job loss.

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Shaquaza Williams made ends meet with a lot of help from $600 a week in federal jobless benefits after losing her job as a trainee manager in a sports bar when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. But now the payments have ended, her expenses exceed her income, and she doesn’t know what she will do.

With the expiration of the federal money on Friday, Williams, a single mother of two from Paterson, is left with just $190 a week in state unemployment benefits, and that doesn’t match the approximately $200 a week that it costs for food, clothes, transportation and other items for herself and her children, 12 and 4.

After being laid off, Williams was evicted from her apartment for nonpayment of rent. She first went to live with an elderly relative but that person became ill, so the family moved to a hotel, whose charges she was able to pay because by that time she was getting the $600 a week from the federal government.

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New Jersey will require all students to wear masks while in school

08/03/2020

Politico

Gov. Phil Murphy at a coronavirus briefing. 

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is continuing to assert that schools will reopen for in-person instruction in the fall, announcing Monday that all students will be required to wear masks in school buildings.

Murphy said the state Department of Education has updated its reopening guidance document to require face coverings “for all students at all times while inside a school building regardless of social distancing,” unless doing so would inhibit the individual’s health. The updated guidance also includes exceptions for students with disabilities.

This is a change from the previous guidance that “strongly encouraged” masks and only required students to wear them when social distancing cannot be maintained in places like crowded hallways. The guidance has always required masks for teachers, staff and school visitors.

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Lord & Taylor files for bankruptcy. What does this mean for N.J. malls?

Posted Aug 03, 2020

Lord & Taylor, the oldest department store in the U.S., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The department store has about $137.9 million of debt obligations, the report says.

Forbes also reports that Lord & Taylor’s store at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne is shuttering and has already begun liquidation sales, along with 19 other locations throughout the U.S.

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COVID-19 Coast to Coast: Feds are MIA as Virus Spreads

By Bob Hennelly | August 1, 2020

Insider NJ

 

Here in New Jersey and neighboring New York, where COVID-19 has been under control, there’s a deep sense of foreboding that the failure of so many other states to learn from our painful experience, and the MIA status of the Federal government, will lead to another mass casualty event here.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo has observed from the beginning, we have been behind the curve of this scourge in purely a reactive mode. We are like a person on fire running to escape the flames.

Governor Murphy has already sounded the alarm that our state is seeing a significant uptick in new cases with Friday’s report of 699, up dramatically from 261 the day before.

Experts now project we could have 250,000 dead Americans by Election Day.

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Children and Coronavirus: So Much Still Unknown as Schools Head for Reopening

LILO H. STAINTON | AUGUST 3, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Back to school with COVID-19

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Despite some common misassumptions, research suggests young children do face certain risks with the novel coronavirus, and experts insist public health must remain the priority as New Jersey and other states consider how to reopen schools in the coming weeks.

“We started this with a myth that we’re having a hard time shaking, and that myth is that COVID spares kids,” said Dr. Lawrence Kleinman, a professor and population health expert in the pediatric department of Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Brunswick. “And that desire to reassure creates harm,” he added.

Individuals under 18 make up a small percentage of the overall COVID-19 cases nationwide, and an even smaller fraction of the hospitalizations and deaths. But those that get sick can be severely impacted and suffer long-term consequences. Experts also acknowledge much remains unknown about the new disease. And many parents, educators and public health leaders are concerned that sending groups of children into the classroom could put them and their families in danger and exacerbate what appears to be a growing spread throughout communities in some states, including New Jersey.

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Murphy enacts new tax on insurance companies to expand health coverage for middle-class families

Posted Aug 01, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law Friday that imposes a 2.5% tax on health insurance companies that will help pay the premiums for people who rely the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act to shop for coverage.

Both houses of the state Legislature approved the bill (A4389) Thursday, giving the state ample time to prepare for the ACA open enrollment period that begins Nov. 1.

“As the federal government continues to attack critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act, our administration remains committed to lowering the cost of coverage, expanding access to care, and improving health equity for our most vulnerable,” Murphy said in a statement.

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Suburbs that buy water from Newark working to move past lead crisis

Posted Aug 01, 2020

Thanks to a combination of new treatment and aggressive infrastructure work, Newark has turned the corner in its battle against lead in drinking water. But three suburbs that buy their water from the city are still working to address the issue.

In July, Newark officially dipped below federal drinking standards for lead for the first time in three years. It was the culmination of an aggressive push by the city to remove thousands of lead lines from its system, and to revamp how water is treated at the beleaguered Pequannock treatment plant.

Bloomfield, Belleville and Nutley all purchase drinking water from Newark, without any additional treatment.

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Indoor shoppers who refuse to wear masks during pandemic would face jail, fine under new bill

Posted Jul 31, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on April 8 requiring people to wear a mask covering their nose and mouths when they enter a store or other retail business.

Most comply, state officials say, but not everyone. A recent Gallup poll found 18% percent of the public rarely or never wears a mask, despite government orders and signs business owners post telling shoppers they must comply.

Now state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would set 30-day jail sentences and fines of up to $500 for those who refuse to wear masks by making violation of the order a disorderly persons offense.

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Christie heaps praise on Bill Stepien years after ousting him amid bridge scandal

At the height of the Bridgegate scandal in 2014, then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attacked his former gubernatorial campaign manager, Bill Stepien, for a lack of judgment.

Six years later, Christie lavished praise on Stepien, who now serves as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager.

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U.S. Backs Down, Allowing Michael Cohen to Write Trump Tell-All Book

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

July 30, 2020

A judge ruled last Thursday that the decision to return Michael D. Cohen, center, to prison amounted to retaliation by the government.

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Michael D. Cohen now will be allowed to finish his tell-all book about President Trump after the government said on Thursday that it had given up a legal battle to prevent him from expressing himself on television, on social media or in books while he serves a prison sentence at home.

The government, writing to a federal judge in Manhattan, said it would not challenge a ruling last week that cleared the way for Mr. Cohen, who once was Mr. Trump’s lawyer and fixer, to publish a memoir about his former boss before the election.

The government said it had agreed to omit a condition in Mr. Cohen’s home-confinement agreement that would have banned him from any contact with the media, including making posts on social media, appearing on television or publishing a book.

Federal prosecutors wrote to the judge that the government had agreed with Mr. Cohen’s lawyers that “a specific provision” regarding Mr. Cohen’s “contact with the media is not necessary.” They also said they would not further litigate or appeal the judge’s ruling.

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