NJ nursing-home residents won’t start COVID-19 vaccinations before next week

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | DECEMBER 17, 2020 

NJ Spotlight News

Family members wave goodbye to NYC nursing home resident after drive-up visit.

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Public health officials have repeatedly underscored the importance of protecting vulnerable nursing-home residents from the potentially deadly impacts of the coronavirus, given that nearly half of New Jersey’s confirmed COVID-19 fatalities involve long-term-care residents or staff.

But despite their inclusion in the group given priority access to the new coronavirus vaccines, residents and staff at long-term care facilities in New Jersey and elsewhere aren’t likely to be immunized until next week, at the earliest.

That’s because nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and other long-term care sites were encouraged to enroll in a federal partnership program — not slated to launch until Dec. 21 — that tasked drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens with operating vaccine clinics at these sites. Health care workers, who are also part of the priority group, began to get inoculations earlier this week at hospitals in New Jersey and around the nation that had received vaccine shipments in advance.

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Murphy, top lawmakers reach deal to renew tax incentive program with caps

By KATHERINE LANDERGAN

12/15/2020

Politico

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

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Gov. Phil Murphy and top lawmakers announced Tuesday evening that they’ve reached a deal to renew New Jersey’s tax incentive program, which expired last year.

Two sources familiar with the negotiations told POLITICO the programs will be capped at $11.5 billion over six years.

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New law spares teen drivers from waiting in line at the MVC agency

Posted Dec 15, 2020

An idea suggested by teen drivers who waited in long lines at state Motor Vehicle Commission agencies during the hot summer has become law in the winter.

Teen drivers, and their parents who drove and waited with them, will no longer have to stand in line to get their provisional license after passing a road test. A bill proposed by state Senator Anthony Bucco and signed in to law by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday lets them use their validated permit as a temporary license.

The new law gives new drivers who passed their road test up to 60 days after the MVC resolves its backlog handling driver’s license transactions to go to an agency get their permanent license. Agencies were closed during the first four-months of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Republican war against democracy | Moran

Posted Dec 15, 2020

Before moving on to the Biden era, let’s pause to note that Rep. Jeff Van Drew just sold the last morsel of his soul, at discount, by supporting the Texas lawsuit that tried to overturn the presidential election.

If this lawsuit had succeeded, it would have erased the vote in four states Biden won, leaving the selection of presidential electors to the state legislatures, all controlled by Republicans.

No one fired any weapons, so we can’t quite call this an attempted coup.

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‘Democracy prevailed’: President-elect Joe Biden addresses nation after electoral college victory

Posted Dec 14, 2020

Speaking from his longtime home of Wilmington, Delaware, on the day that electors nationwide cast votes affirming his victory, Biden was blunt in critiquing the damage done by Trump’s baseless allegations that the contest was stolen. Such arguments have been roundly rejected by judges across the political spectrum, including the justices at the Supreme Court.

Democracy, Biden said, has been “pushed, tested, threatened.” But he said it proved to be “resilient, true, and strong.”

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First COVID-19 vaccines arrive, state warns most will wait months to get shots

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | DECEMBER 15, 2020

NJ Spotlight News

New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination programs begins Tuesday, Dec. 15. New York’s began Dec. 14. Pharmacists arrived with the vaccine at NYU-Langone Hospital on Monday.

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With several New Jersey hospitals on Tuesday slated to begin vaccinating health care workers against COVID-19 and more than 300,000 more doses anticipated in the weeks to come, the state is poised to enter a new and potentially more effective phase in its battle against the deadly coronavirus.

But these early shipments provide only the first of two shots needed to protect just over half of the group designated the highest priority — some 650,000 paid and unpaid health care workers and 75,000 long-term care residents. New Jersey officials stressed it will be months still before the vaccine is available to the general public and almost a year before we reach so-called herd immunity, at which point enough people are vaccinated to properly control the spread of the virus.

“This is a start, but it’s just the first few drops in a really big bucket,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at a media briefing Monday, the day before New Jersey launched its largest-ever vaccination campaign. Tuesday is “a big day, but we cannot claim any victory yet. [It] is the just the establishment of our beachhead. It’s going to take several more months of fighting,” he added.

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Home growers could still face draconian penalties once weed is legal in New Jersey

12/15/2020 

Politico

An activist for the legalization of marijuana shows a bud in Mexico City, Thursday, July 16, 2020.

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New Jersey is on the cusp of legalizing recreational marijuana, but residents caught growing even modest amounts could still face up to 20 years in prison.

Despite grappling for the last several years with legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana — a formal vote is scheduled for Thursday on enabling legislation to legalize marijuana after voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment last month to do so — the Legislature has no immediate plans to reduce draconian penalties for growing it.

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1 in 500 New Jerseyans have died from COVID-19 since pandemic began, data shows

Posted Dec 13, 2020

New Jersey hit a grim new pandemic milestone last week.

As of Sunday afternoon, the state had logged 17,751 confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic. With a population just shy of 9 million people, that amounts to about one death out of every 500 New Jersey residents.

As an international travel and transit hub, New York and New Jersey were hit especially hard at the beginning of the pandemic, meaning a significant share of New Jersey’s deaths occurred in the spring and summer, when states further west were seeing relatively few deaths.

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Many NJ utility customers way behind on bills. Pressure to suspend rate increases

TOM JOHNSON, ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT WRITER | DECEMBER 14, 2020 

NJ Spotlight News

With hundreds of thousands of customers, including up to 90% of commercial users, falling far behind in paying utility bills, New Jersey is looking at how, if even possible, consumers and small businesses will pay back accounts that were more than $442 million in arrears as of mid-October.

The proceeding, initiated by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), is so complex that the Division of Rate Counsel and consumer advocates have urged the agency to suspend new rate increases by utilities until after the public health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The pandemic has led to a surge in unemployment, a huge downturn in the economy, and left parts of the public struggling to balance where to spend dwindling household income: on putting food on the table for families, avoiding eviction, or paying utility bills.

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Murphy: Vaccinations for health care workers will start on Tuesday

12/13/2020

Politico

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. 

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New Jersey will start administering coronavirus vaccine shots to health care workers on Tuesday at University Hospital in Newark, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Sunday.

“I'll be there Tuesday morning at University Hospital. ... We will begin vaccinating our heroic health care workers,” Murphy said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." “it's going to be a big day on Tuesday morning in Newark.”

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