Preparing for Coronavirus in NJ: Not if But When, Say Murphy Officials

LILO H. STAINTON | MARCH 3, 2020

NJ Spotlight

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its Emergency Operations Center to assist public health partners respond to the novel coronavirus.

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New Jersey has yet to see any cases and state officials insist the public health system is ready to respond, but it is now a question of when — not if — coronavirus will be discovered in the Garden State.

That was one key takeaway from a briefing Gov. Phil Murphy held Monday with top health officials and other government leaders on New Jersey’s efforts to prepare for the virus that is the source of a growing global outbreak, in addition to rising public and economic panic. There are now more than 87,000 cases worldwide including at least 90 in the United States, officials said.

As of Monday, nobody in the Garden State had tested positive for the virus, COVID-19. Eight people had been screened and confirmed to be negative; a ninth person underwent testing Monday and results are pending. But administration officials said it is only a matter of time until a case is identified here.

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Homeland Security worker reportedly told to return to work in Newark, despite coronavirus quarantine

Posted Feb 29, 2020

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security employee who traveled to China was told to return to her job in Newark earlier this month, despite protocol that mandated a 14-day quarantine period to screen for coronavirus, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Earlier this month, the woman, who works at the Newark office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, returned from traveling to China and asked her boss if she should stay home in quarantine, the Post reported.

But her boss told her to come back to work by Feb. 10, in violation of a mandatory coronavirus quarantine period of two weeks, the report said.

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Stamps tell a story. This one honors trailblazing African-American journalist.

Posted Feb 28, 2020

Last month, the U.S. Postal Service issued its 43rd Black Heritage stamp honoring Gwen Ifill, one of America’s most respected journalist.

As Black History Month comes to a close, the Springfield Avenue post office in Newark held a brief ceremony Friday to honor Ifill with the unveiling of a special enlargement of the stamp.

“The United State Postal Service remains committed to educating and informing America and the world about the many achievements and contributions noted from African-Americans,’’ said Silvia Glover, postmaster of the Newark office.

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New Airbnb Listing: A 65-Foot-Tall Landmark Named Lucy the Elephant

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Feb. 27, 2020

Lucy the Elephant, a six-story tall roadside attraction on the beach in Margate City, N.J., will soon be available to rent from Airbnb.

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MARGATE CITY, N.J. — A beloved rebel from a bygone era, she stands as a six-story testament to New Jersey’s brawny brand of seaside kitsch.

Her calendar age is 138, but she wears it well. She has survived hurricanes, mild rot and brushes with fame.

Lucy the Elephant, a national landmark built in 1881 in Margate, a seaside city about five miles south of Atlantic City, is the last of three hulking pachyderms that once stood along the East Coast.

“The oldest surviving example of zoomorphic architecture on Earth,” boasted her human handler and lifelong cheerleader, Richard Helfant.

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Newark just might be the first N.J. city with quality, affordable housing for all | Opinion

Posted Feb 27, 2020

By John Goldstein

 

For decades, dreams of a Newark renaissance have been shattered by the reality of major challenges. We have a high poverty rate and low number of homeowners. Even the massive public investment in the Prudential Center and the Performing Arts Center seemed unable to light a fire under the local economy.

As the city and the nation recovered from the recession, momentum began to build. Panasonic and Audible moved their corporate headquarters to Newark, and Prudential built a gleaming new tower. Parts of downtown awoke, with new luxury apartments, celebrity chef-owned restaurants, Whole Foods and a Nike store.

Real estate speculation, especially downtown, resulted in massive sales like the Pavilion apartments, a $70 million project, and Newark’s Gateway Center, a $300 million project.

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More Pain for N.J. Commuters: Tunnel Repairs Could Cause Big Delays

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Feb. 27, 2020

The tunnels beneath the Hudson River carry 70,000 commuters between New Jersey and Manhattan during rush hours. 

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Commuters who travel by train between New Jersey and New York already have to cope with a seemingly endless cycle of delays and cancellations. During the evening rush on Thursday, for example, New Jersey Transit trains leaving Manhattan were delayed by up to an hour.

The pain may be about to get worse.

With the Trump administration showing no signs of endorsing a plan for a second set of rail tunnels under the Hudson River, Amtrak has decided to start repairing the two existing tunnels before one of them fails completely, according to a company official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the plans were still being developed.

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Ex-N.J. gov. nominated to head prison task force

Posted Feb 26, 2020

A former New Jersey governor may become the first person to head a civilian panel tasked with reviewing the policies and procedures of a county prison.

On Wednesday evening, the Essex County Board of Freeholders will vote on whether to approve former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey to serve as chairman of the nine-person Essex County Civilian Task Force, conceived of last year to review operations at the Essex County Correctional Facility.

McGreevey would serve in the position in a volunteer capacity, according to a county spokesperson.

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Serious progress in Trenton. That’s not a joke. | Moran

Posted Feb 26, 2020

Today, for something completely different, let’s pause to note some positive news in Trenton, the progress in the long fight to address the state’s fiscal crisis.

No, this is not a joke. Over the last decade, New Jersey has invested more than $20 billion into its depleted pension funds. In the decade before that, the state invested only $2.5 billion. That’s undeniable progress.

And the trend towards sanity, which began under Gov. Chris Christie, is accelerating. Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney are rivals who can’t seem to stand each other personally. But they agree on this.

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After Trump Mocks a Sea Wall in New York, Plan Is Abruptly Shelved

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THE NEW YORK TIMES

Feb. 25, 2020

The barrier plan was divisive because it addressed flooding only from storm surges, not from sea rise and storm water runoff.Credit...

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The Trump administration has unexpectedly halted a project to protect the New York City region from flooding during dangerous storms like Hurricane Sandy — a decision that came six weeks after President Trump took to Twitter to ridicule the study’s most expensive proposal, a giant sea wall that could have cost billions of dollars.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ announcement that the project was “indefinitely postponed” surprised some of its own officials, and local politicians and advocates said the decision was stunning at a time when climate change is threatening New York’s future with intensifying storms.

In a statement, the Corps’ New York office said only that the study was suspended because it did not receive funding in the agency’s work plan for 2020. Officials there refused to comment on whether they believed that Mr. Trump had influenced the decision. But a senior administration official said the project was shelved because it was too expensive and unfocused.

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In Annual Budget Address, Murphy Proposes 5% Hike in State Spending

JOHN REITMEYER | FEBRUARY 26, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy (left) shakes hands with Senate President Steve Sweeney after delivering his 2021 budget address.

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Gov. Phil Murphy is asking lawmakers to approve a state budget plan that calls for a record amount of spending backed by nearly $1 billion in added taxes to boost funding for things like education, mass transit and public-worker pensions.

Among the tax hikes Murphy is proposing to help balance his nearly $41 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2021 is an increase of the tax levied on a pack of cigarettes.

The first-term Democrat is also seeking a new tax on corporations that rely on Medicaid to help cover a large share of their employee health insurance.

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