North Jersey News Roundup for April 23, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy admonished Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for floating the idea states would be better off going into bankruptcy as a result of a financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The governor, who vowed New Jersey would not file for bankruptcy, characterized McConnell’s statements as “utterly irresponsible.”

New Jersey hospitals will now be required to include coronavirus demographic data to the Department of Health. Hospitals are mandated to report age, ethnicity, gender and race of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, or died from the virus as well as people who tried to get testing and were turned away, people who attempted to get treatment, and patients admitted for treatment.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said reported numbers in long-term care facilities are being disputed by operators but believes the corrections are on the margins. The operators said data the state published made it appear more residents were ill than the facilities themselves had been reporting directly to residents and relatives as the total number included staff and residents in some cases. The Daily Record

The state is preparing for a second wave of COVID-19 infections that could be even worse than the current wave. The CDC predicts a winter surge of coronavirus cases will be more devastating when coupled with the nation’s usual flu season. NJTVonline

Gov. Phil Murphy said the FEMA coronavirus testing sites in New Jersey remains for symptomatic people only. The state at one point on April 22 said testing was open to asymptomatic people at sites in Paramus and Holmdel but later reversed that option when state officials were informed they needed permission from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to change the policy.

New Jersey is partnering with New York and Connecticut to launch a tri-state tracing program, with the goal to find people who are infected and get them into isolation. The program will be spearheaded and partially funded by former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who has pledged $10 million toward the project. News12 New Jersey

State health officials defined exactly what counties make up the north, central and south tiers in their fight against the coronavirus. The state breaks down the north counties as Sussex, Passaic, Bergen, Warren, Essex, Union, Morris, Hudson and Hunterdon; central counties as Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean and southern counties as Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Atlantic, Cumberland, Cape May.

Hundreds of hourly-paid NJ Transit bus drivers and train operators reported issues in receiving their pay. The payroll problems at the agency have persisted for several weeks in which several hundred people were not paid for their normal shifts, others were paid the wrong amount and overtime hours were not accounted for in their checks. The Record

Union City will consider an ordinance preventing the eviction of residential and commercial tenants if they cannot afford to pay their rent during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The move provides protection for all renters, not just those covered by the statewide ban on residential evictions and foreclosures. The Jersey Journal

Jersey City’s mayor will recommend the withdrawal of a November referendum establishing an Arts and Culture Trust Fund. The fund, to support local artists and arts education, would have been funded by a special levy through a maximum tax rate of $0.02 per $100 of assessed property value. Hudson Reporter

New Jersey’s spending on preschool programs ranks second in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. New Jersey spent $13,172 per child across its three preschool programs as of the 2018-19 school year. Despite spending more, New Jersey ranked 22nd in the nation for access to pre-K for 4-year-olds. PoliticoNJ

And finally…Bruce Springsteen kicked off the “Jersey 4 Jersey” charity concert to benefit the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund with Land of Hope and Dreams.

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