Despite vaccines, latest models predict rising COVID-19 before slow decline

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | APRIL 1, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

The worst-case scenario, according to new predictive modeling from the state Department of Health

 

The moderate scenario envisaged by state Department of Health predictive modeling

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New Jersey is now in its third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to state officials, with new COVID-19 cases likely to continue climbing for another two to six weeks — possibly even surpassing some records — before a long, slow decline that could last well into the summer.

New predictive modeling from the state Department of Health shows that, under the worst-case scenario, both COVID-19 infection levels and related hospitalizations could keep rising through mid-May before peaking at more than 8,000 new cases and 3,600 hospitalizations daily. It also predicts these metrics could hover near this level for close to a month before gradually falling to 6,000 diagnoses and 2,700 hospitalizations a day by Aug. 1.  

“Under this scenario, we’re in for a long, hot summer,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at his regular pandemic media briefing Wednesday. “So please God, this is not what we have to live through.”

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American Dream mega mall owners default on loan. Lenders to take stake in its other properties.

Posted Mar 30, 2021

Lenders behind the American Dream mega mall project are in the final stages of taking a 49% stake in two other malls owned by developer Triple Five that were used as collateral for a $1.2 billion construction loan in New Jersey, the Financial Times reported, citing people involved in the deal.

The loan that was defaulted on is held largely by JP Morgan, along with Goldman, Starwood Capital, CIM Group, Soros Fund Management, Wafra and iStar. The restructuring, the Financial Times reported Friday, was expected to close as early as “this week,” although the process has been complicated by the number of lenders and could be delayed.

A spokesperson for American Dream declined to comment.

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N.J. students, teachers with health issues will have virtual school option this fall, Murphy clarifies

Posted Mar 30, 2021

Gov. Phil Murphy said last week that after more than a year of upheaval because of the coronavirus pandemic, all New Jersey schools are expected to return to in-person classes when the next academic year starts and won’t be allowed to offer virtual learning, even if parents ask for it.

But Murphy clarified Tuesday that students and teachers who have health issues that could put them at greater risk of a serious COVID-19 case will have a virtual option.

“I did not intend to include folks who have some immunity or some other issue with their health where that could put them at risk,” the governor said during a television interview on News 12 New Jersey. “I did not mean that.”

“But I did mean that Monday through Friday, schools are open for business, and unless you’ve got some sort of health challenge of one sort or the other, we fully expect we’re in business for school,” he added.

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New Jersey Will Expand Voting Rights, as Some States Limit Them

“I plan to take action to ensure that early voting becomes the law of the land in New Jersey,” Gov. Philip D. Murphy said on Friday.
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Months after a divisive presidential election pushed voting rights to the fore, the issue has become a key political battlefield.

Bills restricting ballot access are moving quickly in Republican-led states even as President Biden and his fellow Democrats in Washington press for passage of the most ambitious voting rights legislation in decades to help blunt their effect.

In New Jersey, the Democratic governor, Philip D. Murphy, is about to sign a bill authorizing early in-person voting, sending a clear signal that making it easier to vote is crucial for a healthy democracy.

It will be done in a ceremony laden with symbolism: Mr. Murphy will be joined on Tuesday in a videoconference by Stacey Abrams, whose decade-long effort to enroll voters in Georgia helped Mr. Biden win the state and cemented the Democrats’ slim majority in the United States Senate.

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COVID-19 variants help drive NJ infection rate to highest in nation

COLLEEN O'DEA, SENIOR WRITER | MARCH 30, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which cause COVID-19. Viruses are constantly mutating, with coronavirus variants circulating around the globe.

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New Jersey currently has the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the nation, likely fueled at least in part by the presence of large numbers of viral variants that state health officials are having a tough time quantifying due to the dearth of specialized testing.

Despite this, and the fact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is characterizing the current level of community transmission in every New Jersey county as high, Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday expanded the numbers for limited types of gatherings. He increased the number who can gather outdoors to 200 and raised the capacity percentages at such large venues as sports arenas to 20% for all indoor facilities that seat at least 2,500 and 30% for outdoor venues. Both take effect Friday.

Murphy said he feels comfortable that these will still allow for appropriate social distancing and noted that all other indoor limits — for dining and businesses — remain.

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Trump’s former pandemic coordinator suggests a restrained response may have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

In interviews broadcast on CNN Sunday night, former President Donald J. Trump’s pandemic officials confirmed in stark and no uncertain terms what was already an open secret in Washington: The administration’s pandemic response was riddled with dysfunction, and the discord, untruths and infighting most likely cost many lives.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, Mr. Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, suggested that hundreds of thousands of Americans may have died needlessly, and Adm. Brett P. Giroir, the testing czar, said the administration had lied to the public about the availability of testing.

The comments were among a string of bombshells that emerged during a CNN special report that featured the doctors who led the government’s coronavirus response in 2020.

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Muggers get lawyers. Why not a family facing eviction? | Editorial

Posted Mar 28, 2021

If somebody is arrested in a bar fight, he has a right to a lawyer, even at public expense. But if a poor family is being tossed out of their apartment with nowhere to go, they have no right to legal representation, because eviction is a civil matter.

Yet obviously, this is not a fair fight. Ninety-nine percent of the time, tenants don’t have an attorney, while most landlords do. As a result, at least half these cases never actually go before a judge – they get resolved by strong-arming in the courthouse hallway, where a landlord’s attorney strikes a hard bargain with a tenant, who still gets forced out.

Now imagine the tsunami to come. Experts estimate about 300,000 renters are behind on payments in New Jersey, owing a total of at least $2 billion in back rent. On top of the many other hardships they’ve faced this year, all these families could be left without a home when the governor lifts his moratorium on evictions after the pandemic.

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Newark-based violence prevention group seeks to bridge gap between police, social services

Community-based violence prevention groups want their work to be taken just as seriously as police work  and want the funds to match.

That’s why a new national organization called the Community Based Public Safety Association was launched Thursday in a virtual press conference with support from mayors in Newark and Los Angeles. The association will be an organization of other community-based public safety groups around the United States and will push for funds and public information programs.

“This is evidence-based work,” said Aqeela Sherrills, the executive director of the association. “This is not willy-nilly work that we’re doing just out in the field. We have evidence-based results. We have community support in terms of our work. Now it’s time for significant investment.”

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New federal COVID vaccination site in Newark will be able to give 6,000 shots a day, Murphy says

Posted Mar 26, 2021

A federally run pilot vaccination center in Newark is set to open Monday morning and will eventually be able to vaccinate 6,000 people a day, seven days a week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.

The site at Naimoli Family Athletic and Recreational Facility at the New Jersey Institute of Technology will aim to get shots to residents in vulnerable communities as defined by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

“It will focus on ensuring vaccine equity and reaching deep into communities with higher risks of virus exposure and infection,” Murphy said during an event at Kean University in Union Township.

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Newark Mayor Joins State Senators to Address Gun Violence After Mass Shootings

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka joined Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez on March 26 at Branch Brook Park to call on reform for gun violence.

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NEWARK, NJ – In the wake of two mass shootings, one in Georgia and another in Colorado which claimed the lives of 18 people, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Friday joined Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez to address the issue of gun violence at a local level. 

Calling on Congress and President Joe Biden’s administration to take action against the matter in communities, the mayor and state legislators gathered at Branch Brook Park in Newark to advocate for common-sense gun law reform. 

“This is like a broken record. We have to have these over and over again because mass shootings are happening all over the country,” Baraka said. “There is no difference of a person going into a school or into a spa, shooting innocent people with an AR-15 and a kid getting their hands on an AR-15 or AK-47 on Clinton Avenue, Avon Avenue or Bloomfield Avenue here in the city of Newark, and committing homicide in these cities with guns that are not manufactured on the corner of their streets.”

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