North Jersey News Roundup for May 18, 2020

The state’s primary election set for July 7 will be a combination of vote-by-mail and in-person. Registered voters would automatically receive a vote-by-mail application ahead of the election. Independent voters wanting to vote in the primary will receive applications to register for either party and then receive the ballot of their party choice. In-person polling stations will be available in each municipality, with social distancing and frequent cleaning protocols required at polling locations.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign and the state agreed to pay $1 million in a legal settlement with Katie Brennan, who claimed she was sexually assaulted by an aide during his 2017 run for governor. As part of the agreement, Brennan and the man she accused, Al Alvarez, will enter into a restorative justice process and Alvarez agreed to attend an anti-sexual harassment class. The state will enact “survivor-centric” reforms, including letting state workers who allege discrimination have an adviser or support person accompany them when being interviewed by an Equal Employment  Opportunity/Affirmative Action investigator. The Daily Record

Fishing charters and other chartered-boat services were permitted to resume operations May 17 as were watercraft rentals. Both businesses will be required to adopt social distancing and sanitation measures as well as accept online or telephone payment to lessen human contact. Charters must maintain a log for contact tracing purposes.

NJ Transit is slated to receive $1.4 billion in federal taxpayer money to help ensure safe service during the coronavirus pandemic from the CARES Act. State and agency officials said NJ Transit will likely need more aid to make up for “significant loss in fares” the last couple of months.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order allowing for the resumption of elective surgical and other invasive procedures May 26. Among preparation medical facilities will have to undertake is developing plans to combat COVID-19 are testing of patients 72 hours before their surgery, conducting symptom screenings on the day of the surgery and having patients quarantine three days before surgery.

The state has started testing seasonal farm workers for COVID-19, with 58 positive tests across 11 farms reported. State officials will provide guidance to operators how workers should practice social distancing in fields, while being transported to worksites and in shared housing; educating workers on the need to wear masks at all time while working; hand-washing and personal hygiene practices; and on proper cleaning and disinfecting. The Daily Record

The Murphy administration will use $2 million in federal grants to expand telehealth counseling services offered through Rutgers University’s Behavioral Health Care for as many as 2,500 people across the state. Meanwhile, another $882,035 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help fund the NJ Hope and Healing Crisis Counseling Program, which has provided training and support sessions to first responders and others.

The House of Representatives passed the $3 trillion coronavirus Heroes Act relief bill May 15. The measure would deliver almost $1 trillion for state and local governments, another round of $1,200 direct payments to individuals and help for the unemployed, renters and homeowners, college debt holders and the Postal Service. News12 New Jersey

The Archdiocese of Newark announced a three-phase gradual reopening process for churches. The first phase went into effect May 17, reopening churches for private prayer and allowing the Sacrament of Reconciliation if social distancing can be maintained and masks are worn. The archdiocese is currently determining the timing for the implementation of the next two phases, the first incorporating the celebration of weekday Masses followed by Sunday Mass. Hudson Reporter

Boxcar will offer drive-in movies in Madison and Franklin Lakes. The Madison movie will be shown May 29 at the Madison Community Pool, while the Franklin Lakes movie will play June 6 at the commuter lot on Parsons Pond Road. The Record

And finally…New Jersey State Police and an EMS crew delivered a baby girl at a New Jersey Turnpike exit May 16.

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