With Private Labs Now Sharing COVID-19 Data, NJ in Better Shape to Plan, Project

LILO H. STAINTON | MARCH 25, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Community mitigation — so-called flattening the curve — can help curb the spread of COVID-19, but only to a point.

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Gov. Phil Murphy has often highlighted his data-driven approach to solving problems, from addressing opioid addiction to creating well-paying jobs.

Starting Tuesday, New Jersey officials got their first real — yet limited — glimpse at coronavirus testing data they said will help them plan for the pending surge of COVID-19 patients expected at hospitals around the state. The information will eventually inform how long they leave strict social-distancing measures in place.

The initial results show that at least one in four people with respiratory symptoms tested positive for COVID-19, indicating that nearly three-quarters are sick with something else. By Tuesday, 3,675 Garden State residents had become ill from the novel coronavirus, including 44 who had died, based on data from the state public health lab and seven private facilities.

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As COVID-19 Heats Up, Governor Puts $1B in Planned Spending in Deep Freeze

JOHN REITMEYER | MARCH 24, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Ice cave

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Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has put nearly $1 billion in planned spending in reserve in response to ongoing concerns that the coronavirus outbreak could take a huge chunk of revenue out of the state budget.

Among the fiscal year 2020 appropriations that have been sidelined by the administration’s spending freeze is $142 million that was supposed to cover the next installment of the state’s popular Homestead property-tax relief benefits, which was due to be paid out to thousands of New Jersey residents to help offset their sky-high property-tax bills in May.

Other appropriations that were put on ice include about $45 million in state aid to New Jersey municipalities, nearly $14 million for combating opioid addiction and $9 million for lead-abatement programs, according to a list released on Monday evening by the Department of Treasury.

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1,000 Inmates Will Be Released From N.J. Jails to Curb Coronavirus Risk

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

March 23, 2020

An order was signed late Sunday authorizing the release of offenders serving certain types of sentences in county jails.

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New Jersey will release as many as 1,000 people from its jails in what is believed to be the nation’s broadest effort to address the risks of the highly contagious coronavirus spreading among the incarcerated.

New Jersey’s chief justice, Stuart Rabner, signed an order late Sunday authorizing the release of inmates serving certain types of sentences in county jails as the number of coronavirus cases in detention centers nationwide continues to mount.

The order applies to inmates jailed for probation violations as well as to those convicted in municipal courts or sentenced for low-level crimes in Superior Court. The release of inmates will begin Tuesday morning.

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Newark Community Health Centers are Now Offering Coronavirus Testing

Newark Community Health Centers, the city’s FQHC, will provide tests to those who follow a set of steps provided by the center.
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NEWARK, NJ — The city’s federally qualified health care center (FQHC) is now able to test for the coronavirus — albeit under strict guidelines designed to keep “worried well” from inundating the facility and using up the precious few tests available in the city. 

Newark had 66 positive COVID-19 cases as of Monday while the state’s total jumped to 2,844. Over the weekend, Mayor Ras Baraka declared a shelter-in-place order for three areas in Newark that goes beyond Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order 107 signed on Saturday, despite a second state order stating that municipalities and counties may not make additional restrictions outside what the state has already mandated. 

The shelter-in-place order states residents in the “hotspots” the city has identified should stock up on groceries and supplies for two months and stay inside unless there is an emergency or there is an essential worker who must leave their home. 

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‘We Will Take Action’ to Enforce Stay At Home Order, Governor Vows

By Fred Snowflack | March 22, 2020

Insider NJ

Governor Phil Murphy

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It would have been symbolic if the weather was gloomy and dank.

But in sharp contrast to the general mood, Sunday morning in New Jersey was bright and sunny – a little cold, but not bitter. A great time to walk, jog or bike ride.

Exercise is still permitted, of course, but when the governor had a mid-afternoon conference call he was irritated that too many people were not taking his “stay at home” order seriously.

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Newark IDs 3 coronavirus hotspots, pushes strict stay-at-home rules for residents

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Saturday announced three neighborhoods within the city that have been identified as coronavirus hotspots through tracking done by the city.

Those areas are Bloomfield Avenue to Verona Avenue and Lake Street to Route 21; Springfield Avenue to West Market Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South 12th Street; and Avon Avenue to Clinton Avenue and Irvine Turner Boulevard to South 12th Street.

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N.J. workers diagnosed with coronavirus now have protection against being fired under new law

Posted Mar 20, 2020

New Jersey’s leaders want to give you one less thing to worry about if you’re diagnosed with the coronavirus.

A new law (A3848), signed by Gov. Phil Murphy Friday, prohibits employers in the state from firing, demoting or otherwise punishing workers if they take time off because they have or are likely to have the novel coronavirus.

The job protections apply during a declared state of emergency when a person is diagnosed with specific infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus.

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Do you need a script for coronavirus testing in N.J.? What do you need to bring with you?

Posted Mar 19, 2020

Now that New Jersey will be opening its first government-run coronavirus testing site on Friday, people want to know what they’ll need in order to be tested.

Thursday at a press conference, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that people would need to show symptoms of respiratory illness in order to be tested for COVID-19 at New Jersey-run testing sites in Paramus and Holmdel. People will be screened for symptoms when they arrive, and those proving to be asymptomatic will be turned away.

However, patients will not need a prescription or recommendation from a doctor in order to be tested at government-run facilities. You’ll also need to have identification to prove New Jersey residency at state-run testing sites.

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During the coronavirus crisis, Murphy surfaces as the anti-Christie | Opinion

Posted Mar 19, 2020

By Alan J. Steinberg

It is in the area of symbolic leadership that Phil Murphy, in these early stages, appears to have most favorably moved his agenda forward, Alan Steinberg says. Above, Gov. Phil Murphy holds a coronavirus briefing in Trenton on March 17, 2020 

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Two weeks ago, Gov. Phil Murphy was entering a true test of faith in his life, his hour of trial. He was facing major surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney.

He emerged from his hours-long surgery with the cancer removed and little time to rest. As governor of New Jersey, he now had to deal with the most perilous and deadly crisis ever faced by a New Jersey governor, the coronavirus pandemic.

Murphy had to confront this crisis under the worst possible circumstance. He had to work with a president, Donald Trump, a chief executive of the opposite party who had played politics with the pandemic, labeling it as a “Democratic hoax” and downplaying the deadly effect of the virus. Yet the most destructive action of Trump involved his elimination of the agency charged with confronting the pandemic.

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COVID-19’s Impact on Upcoming Elections in New Jersey

COLLEEN O'DEA | MARCH 20, 2020

NJ Spotlight

 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday postponed upcoming local and school board elections until May 12 and ordered that all elections on that date be conducted completely by mail-in balloting to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

The only change Murphy ordered so far affecting the June primary is allowing candidates to file their nominating petitions online, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of having that election conducted by mail statewide if necessary.

“We have no timetable to make any assessment on the June 2 election, but obviously it’s at the top of mind,” Murphy said during his daily briefing on the pandemic. “If we need to act and adjust that in any way, we will do so on a timely basis.”

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