North Jersey News Roundup for May 1, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy took the state’s case for federal aid needed as a result of the COVID-19 crisis directly to President Donald Trump. The governor said in an Oval Office meeting with the President that the coronavirus could cost the state up to $30 billion, and federal aid was needed to make up for the losses as well as allowing the state to keep firefighters, teachers, police, and EMS on the payroll serving the communities in their hour of need, Murphy said.

State officials will be watching closely and could order parks and golf courses closed again if social distancing isn’t followed, said Gov. Phil Murphy. “This upcoming weekend, with the reopening of our parks and golf courses, is a crucial test,” said the governor. “We are placing tremendous trust in you to keep up your social distancing. I will not hesitate to reverse course and close parks again.” Murphy is urging people to wear face coverings, even though they are not mandated.

NJ Transit bus riders continue to share concerns about how the agency is complying with social-distancing rules put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. The agency reported it is working to address issues as they arise, modifying service daily to manage heavier ridership and reinforcing with bus operators the need to maintain the 50% capacity limit. NJ Spotlight

Morris County officials will be hiring a handful of health professionals to mount an aggressive countywide contact tracing program. The plans are in the very early stages of development and came out of a conference call between county and local health officials. The Daily Record

More than 70,000 new New Jersey workers filed for unemployment benefits. Between mid-March and April 25, a total of 930,000 workers in the Garden State filed jobless claims. The 71,966 claims in the week ending April 25 is the lowest weekly total since early March and about half the number of new claims filed in each of the previous two weeks, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The federal government’s $660 billion COVID-19 aid program threatens to leave small businesses struggling to survive because of its limits on non-payroll expenses. The Paycheck Protection Program requires that 75% of the funds go for employee salaries, and no more than 25% on rent, mortgage interest and utility payments. That is proving to be a deal breaker for many small businesses with modest payrolls and high rent costs, such as restaurants, salons and shops in urban areas.  The Wall Street Journal

Jersey City Heights resident Yousef Saleh was approved by a 6-2 vote to replace the late Ward D Councilman Michael Yun. Saleh will represent much of the Jersey City Heights on the City Council until a November special election, the winner of which will fill out the remainder of Yun’s unexpired term. Hudson Reporter

Belleville Mayor Michael Melham tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. The mayor claims he contracted the coronavirus in Atlantic City while attending the New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference in November 2019, two months before the first confirmed U.S. case in Washington State.

A directive from the state health department ordered caskets during viewings to remain closed in New Jersey may soon be revised. State Police Col. Patrick Callahan said the portion of the executive directive regarding closed caskets is under review, a change that has been advocated by the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association.

Hoboken has begun in-home COVID-19 testing for senior citizens at its six majority-senior buildings. The testing effort is a partnership between the city and PromptMD urgent care, with doctors donating their services and equipment and the city covering lab fees for uninsured seniors. The Jersey Journal

And finally…Drive-in movie theaters could be coming to N.J. once the lockdown is lifted.

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