Here’s what Murphy wants from Trump so New Jersey can fight the coronavirus

Posted Mar 18, 2020

WASHINGTON — New Jersey can’t fight the coronavirus on its own, and Gov. Phil Murphy has a list of things he says the state needs from the federal government.

Discussing his wish list by telephone with the state’s congressional delegation on Wednesday, Murphy said he was counting on substantial help from President Donald Trump to both stop the spread of the virus and boost a state economy reeling from the shutdowns designed to reduce exposure to it.

“You can’t do what we’ve done and not have a dramatic impact on not just people’s lives but also on the health of the state’s budget and on the state’s revenues," Murphy said during a press briefing in Trenton on Wednesday.

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Newark mayor calls for mandatory curfew, closure of non-essential businesses for at least 2 weeks

Posted Mar 18, 2020

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka called for a mandatory curfew and the closure of all non-essential businesses — with exceptions for restaurants, supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations — for at least two weeks to stifle the spread of coronavirus.

The directive comes on the heels of the city’s first fatality from coronavirus. The man was in his 40s, had underlying conditions and died after testing positive for COVID-19, Baraka said.

“Although he had underlying health issues, he was young - just in his early forties,” Baraka said in a virtual town hall Wednesday. “So we all have to take this very, very serious. Newark had its first fatality in a coronavirus case.”

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In a world irrevocably changed, Trump is an active part of the calamity | Editorial

Posted Mar 18, 2020

Even for those elected officials who are not steeped in policy intricacies, there are historic moments when people look to them for courage, leadership and foresight.

COVID 19 has extracted none of these from Donald Trump. As Americans sift through the strata of a global pandemic, the president has spent most of the last three months dismissing this upheaval with pure cynicism — treating it as a nuisance and calling it as a hoax, lying about it being under control, blaming his predecessor, telling sick people to go to work, contradicting public health experts, marinating in self-praise, and wretchedly failing to give this crisis the respect or vigor that it demanded.

He seemed to turn a small corner Monday — at least rhetorically — and the country whispered a silent amen as his usual prattle of worthless predictions were preempted by a sober discussion of how Americans should approach our uncertain future.

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State to Reopen Woodbury Hospital and Others to Help with Coronavirus Surge

LILO H. STAINTON | MARCH 19, 2020

NJ Spotlight

The state is working with South Jersey’s Inspira Health to reopen a 300-bed acute care hospital in Woodbury, Gloucester County.

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New Jersey health officials plan to expand hospital capacity by nearly 800 beds in the coming weeks to help prepare for a likely patient surge related to the growing coronavirus epidemic and to keep cases of the resulting COVID-19 disease from overwhelming the state’s health care system.

State Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced Wednesday that work was underway to immediately add a total of 260 beds at three acute care hospitals that had recently downsized; while the DOH did not provide specifics, she said 199 beds would be at a north Jersey facility, 11 in central Jersey and 50 in the state’s southern region. Capacity for another 227 patients would be added in the weeks to come, she said.

In addition, the state is working with South Jersey’s Inspira Health to reopen a 300-bed acute care hospital in Woodbury, Gloucester County. Previously known as Underwood Memorial Hospital — and more recently, Inspira Medical Center — the facility has hosted outpatient services, lab space and a satellite emergency room since December, when Inspira opened a new acute care hospital in Mullica Hill.

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Record number of unemployment applications crashed N.J.'s website, Murphy says

Posted Mar 17, 2020

New Jersey’s online unemployment application system crashed Monday due to a huge spike in applications as non-essential businesses were forced to close in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

The system has since been restored.

“We saw a record number of unemployment applications yesterday,” Murphy said at an afternoon news conference in in which officials announced the number of statewide cases has climbed to 267. "The state system crashed.”

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N.J. distillery switches from making spirits to sanitizers during coronavirus outbreak

Posted Mar 17, 2020

You won’t want to drink what Claremont Distillery is brewing this week. Instead of its usual menu of vodka, bourbon and moonshine, the Fairfield distillery is hard at work making gallons of hand sanitizer to offset supply shortages during the coronavirus pandemic.

Tim Koether, the owner, said the motivation behind the switch from spirits to sanitizer was simple.

“My wife couldn’t find any, and she was getting all panicked,” Koether told NJ Advance Media. Helping out his wife gave him the chance to help the larger community, and the decision became a no-brainer. “It’s like to me, it just seems like you’re supposed to (help out). It was just kind of like, well, heck. I got to do this," he said.

He plans on distilling liquid that’s 95% alcohol, which will be combined with aloe vera gel to make the hand sanitizers. Don’t expect any fancy scents; Koether says this will be utilitarian sanitizer.

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Newark mayor weighs mandated curfew in city of 280K residents

Posted Mar 17, 2020

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka will make a decision by Wednesday if there should be an 8 p.m. curfew for residents and certain businesses to combat the spread of coronavirus.

“By tomorrow evening though, we will make a decision about whether we go from strongly encouraging to making it mandatory that everybody has to stop traveling after 8 p.m.,” Baraka said Tuesday in a virtual town hall on Facebook.

The 8 p.m. curfew would not force supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations to close, Baraka said.

The city is home to about 280,000 residents.

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Murphy Mandates Extensive Closures, Mobilizes National Guard in Race to Slow Coronavirus

TIM NOSTRANDBRENDA FLANAGAN | MARCH 17, 2020

NJ Spotlight

 

Amid a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy and other state officials on Monday imposed a series of mandatory closures and business regulations, all designed to limit the close interactions between people that facilitate the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The new rules, which went into effect as of 8 p.m. Monday night, limit crowds for recreational and social gatherings to 50 people, including in private residences. Restaurants and bars are to serve only takeout and delivery customers, and movie theaters, gyms and casinos were to suspend operations as of that time.

Murphy also “strongly discouraged” all nonessential and nonemergency travel in New Jersey between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., noting that he was not imposing a strict curfew, but could still do so.

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Murphy Expected to Close Schools Statewide Today Due to Coronavirus

JOHN MOONEY | MARCH 16, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy at a briefing Friday on state measures against outbreak of COVID-19

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On Friday, a statewide school closure was an “inevitability.” On Saturday, “imminent.” And Sunday, one more day.

In the last few days, New Jersey’s public schools have all but shut down on their own and announced individually that they will move to online and distance learning due to the COVID-19 emergency — maybe for weeks, if not months.

But the Murphy administration has taken a deliberative and, some might argue, herky-jerky path to make it official. That is expected to come today, as Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday said there was a “99 percent certainty” that he’d call for statewide closure this afternoon.

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In a pandemic, sick people still can’t get tested. Making America Great? | Editorial

Posted Mar 15, 2020

If you’re feverish with a cough, or someone close to you is, you should be able to go nearby and get a free test for coronavirus, just like the flu. But not in America, folks.

Instead, doctors all over our country, including in New Jersey, have been turning away people who should be tested. This invites an explosive spread of the virus, since we have no clue how far it’s reached or where.

The point of adequate testing, as we’ve seen in South Korea, is that we can surveil the problem – where the epidemic is, and the danger lies. And right now, we’re not even close. We’re flying blind.

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