NJ readies vaccine mega-sites ahead of booster decision

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | SEPTEMBER 14, 2021

NJ Spotlight News

Health care workers prepare to give COVID-19 vaccinations at the Morris County vaccination site in Rockaway, Friday, Jan. 8.

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New Jersey will re-establish some of the large regional vaccination infrastructure closed earlier this year to accommodate an expected rise in demand for COVID-19 shots once booster doses receive federal approval and more government immunization mandates take effect.

But Gov. Phil Murphy warned Monday that no matter how the program rolls out, demand could exceed system capacity from the first.

The state is working to reopen one of its six original vaccination mega-sites within the next week, state health commissioner Judy Persichilli said at the administration’s twice-weekly pandemic briefing. Two other mega-sites will be re-launched after that so that north, central and south Jersey each has its own operation, she said, and some county, local and privately run sites will also continue to offer shots.

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A Black mother’s burden | Opinion

Published: Sep. 12, 2021

By Enobong Hannah Branch

Enobong Hannah Branch of Rutgers University says the burden of moving through the world as a Black woman with Black children is pausing to reflect on whether situations and circumstances would look different if we were of a different race. 
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A Black mother’s burden is to love her child fiercely with the conscious recognition that the world around you does not do the same. To protect their innocence when they are greeted with suspicion. To create and hold space for their joy because they will have a lifetime to be introduced to anger at the incongruity between their self-love, pride and celebration of Blackness and the world’s denigration of it.

With every moment of moral outrage and indignation that ensues at what has become a recurring spectacle of Black death, I wonder whether the collective outrage will be productive. Not just injustice for the victims whose names we speak, but in raising the consciousness of America to see the racism in the everyday that precedes the violent loss of life. The suspicion that a bag of skittles is a threat, or a toy gun is a death sentence. To challenge the reality that to be Black and move through the world is always an exercise in taking care because fates are not kind to your sudden movements.

More than a year after the death of George Floyd, and the racial awakening that it represented for so many, I am still asking, has it been productive? Or have we used the brutality to locate racism there, Black bodies lying in streets, and absolved ourselves from reflection on racism here, the everyday. Do Black mothers fear less for their children because we have put up Black Lives Matter signs on our streets? No. This is the burden, the unseen weight of mothering while Black.

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N.J. reports 1,744 COVID cases, 4 deaths. Rate of transmission increases for first time in more than a month.

Published: Sep. 12, 2021

New Jersey on Sunday reported 1,744 confirmed COVID-19 cases and four new deaths. It was the lowest number of reported daily deaths in more than two weeks. However, the state also saw its rate of transmission increase for the first time in more than a month.

The Garden State’s seven-day average for newly confirmed positive tests is 1,728, which is 1.5% higher than a week ago and 32.5% higher from this time last month.

All of New Jersey’s 21 counties are listed as having “high” rates of coronavirus transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is recommending people in all 21 counties wear masks for indoor public settings regardless of vaccination rates.

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Like 9/11, COVID-19’s toll set to shape a generation

LILO H. STAINTON, HEALTH CARE WRITER | SEPTEMBER 13, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

Left: March 20, 2020, Medical personnel secure protective equipment while working on a COVID-19 ward at Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck. Right: Sept. 13, 2001, firefighters rest near ground zero.

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The coronavirus struck nearly 20 years after the terror attacks in the United States on 9/11 and in a drastically different manner: slowly at first and essentially invisible, a far cry from the explosions after airliners slammed into Manhattan’s Twin Towers with the scene immediately beamed worldwide.

But the two crises — which will likely shape generations of New Jerseyans — share certain commonalities when it comes to public health. Both disasters prompted unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression, especially for those intimately involved in the response, experts note, and are likely to have long-lasting impacts on individuals, families and communities.

Both 9/11 and the COVID-19 pandemic have led people to view the responders — firefighters and emergency medical personnel then, and nurses, doctors and other caregivers today — as heroes, a term experts acknowledge can be good and bad. Sometimes the “hero” label can prevent these responders from seeking help for their own mental health or substance abuse issues, clinicians said, and those who endured 9/11 may find it even harder to handle with the pandemic stress of today.

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N.J. doesn’t have enough places to charge electric vehicles. A new plan would allow 1 in every town.

Published: Sep. 10, 2021

If New Jersey is to get people in electric cars in numbers large enough to significantly reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, it is going to need more places to charge them.

The Murphy administration has taken a small step toward supplying that by imposing an ordinance making it easier for towns to install electric vehicle charging stations.

The new regulations allow charging stations and designated parking spaces in each of the state’s 565 towns. State officials said this week that these rules take effect immediately.

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FEMA issues major disaster declarations for Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Union Counties

By Joey FoxSeptember 10 2021

New Jersey Globe

Millburn experienced severe flooding during Tropical Storm Ida in September 2021. (

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued Ida-related major disaster declarations in four more counties – Essex, Hudson, Mercer, and Union – bringing the total number of New Jersey counties included up to 10.

“We just received a [FEMA] Major Disaster Declaration for Essex, Hudson, Mercer, & Union counties for Ida damages,” Gov. Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter. “Residents now have access to the federal help they need to rebuild. We’ll continue working with our federal partners to include all eligible counties & residents.”

The four new counties correspond exactly with the counties that were assessed by FEMA and the state Office of Emergency Management on Tuesday. According to Murphy and New Jersey State Police Acting Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan, three other counties – Burlington, Monmouth, and Morris – were assessed on Wednesday, so further major disaster declarations in those counties may be imminent.

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New $350M N.J. port touted as next step for state to lead in wind-power production

Published: Sep. 09, 2021

Gov. Phil Murphy leaned in as he shook hands with state Senate President Steve Sweeney on Thursday morning and said, “Big win for the home team.”

Sweeney returned the grin and moments later the two readied themselves for their real “grip and grin” moment.

They were at a groundbreaking for the New Jersey Wind Port in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County. The pair touted the project as a way to position the state as a major offshore wind hub and staging place for assembly and transport of 900-foot structures needed for each ocean wind turbine. The state Economic Development Authority has estimated the total cost of construction would be between $300 and $400 million.

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Devoted to public safety? Prove it, Newark | Editorial

Some of the first responders who have dedicated their careers to keeping people safe – the brave, vigilant cops and firefighters who risk their lives to save others – have decided that their mission doesn’t include preventing the spread of a deadly disease.

The demonstration outside Newark City Hall Wednesday was a sad civic spectacle, with our finest and bravest from around the state protesting Mayor Ras Baraka’s vaccine mandate for city employees. Claiming “No vaccinations without negotiations,” the police and firemen insist that a mandate is something that should be discussed with the half-dozen unions that operate in the city, and the fact that they could face termination for non-compliance is something these public servants cannot abide.

Pause here to massage temples. There is no denying that Baraka’s COVID vaccine mandate is more doctrinaire than most, but he is asserting a leadership that few in this state – indeed, in this country – have had the courage to impose.

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ICE contractor breaking COVID-19 rules as detainees get infected, landlord says

MONSY ALVARADO, SOCIAL JUSTICE WRITER | SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 

NJ Spotlight News

The Elizabeth Detention Center is run by CoreCivic.

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The private prison company in charge of a federal immigration detention facility in Elizabeth has failed to comply with social distancing guidelines to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, the owner of the building has alleged in an amended complaint filed Thursday in state Superior Court.

Portview Properties, the owner of the building at 625 Evans Street, alleged in the complaint that the prison company’s failure to implement required measures and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention represents a threat to the health, safety and well-being of those detained there. And, the property owner claims, that is a breach of its lease agreement. It asks that a judge terminates its contract with CoreCivic.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an agreement with CoreCivic to hold asylum seekers and other immigrants in the agency’s custody while they await their immigration cases to be resolved.

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Christie steps out of Trump’s shadow — and stokes 2024 buzz

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is launching a comeback tour as he considers whether to mount a 2024 presidential bid that could put him on a collision course with Donald Trump.

The former governor is set to deliver a Thursday evening speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. — a traditional waystation for GOP presidential aspirants — as part of a speaker series the organization is hosting that focuses on the future of the Republican Party. The high-profile appearance comes as Christie intensifies his political activities ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, with a book on the way, a new perch helping the GOP raise money, and plans to help the party flip control of the House next year.

While Christie told POLITICO in an interview that his speech would not be focused on Trump, he plans to stress that Republicans “first and foremost” need to be “the party that’s perceived to be telling the American people the truth” — perhaps an implicit critique of the former president, who according to his own pollster’s post-election autopsy was regarded as less trustworthy than Joe Biden. Christie’s remarks would represent the latest turn in a long and winding relationship with Trump, whom the ex-governor staunchly supported in the 2016 campaign but forcefully denounced in the waning days of his presidency.

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