North Jersey News Roundup for May 28, 2020

The state’s COVID-19 testing capacity has reached a key milestone in Gov. Phil Murphy’s Road Back plan to reopen New Jersey. The Garden State has reached the daily testing capacity capability of 20,000 that the governor cited as a floor the state needed achieve. Murphy noted New Jersey was able to process 30,000 tests on May 23.

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 100,000 May 28, according to the Johns Hopkins University data dashboard. There are almost 5.7 million confirmed cases around the world, with nearly 1.7 million in the U.S. More than 355,000 people have died worldwide. The Record

New Jersey is likely more at risk than other states for a second wave of the coronavirus this year, but the state is better prepared to handle it now than it was just a month ago, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor pointed to New Jersey being the densest state in the densest region in America in making the state susceptible for a second wave. Murphy stressed the state’s effort to expand testing and hire contact tracers could decrease the chance of having to order widespread closures again.

Gov. Phil Murphy is optimistic summer camps and childcare centers in New Jersey could reopen as long as the state’s coronavirus outbreak continues to slow. “You’ve got daycare, youth sports, summer camps, all of which are at a fever pitch in terms of putting together what we think are a responsible set of guidelines for folks,” Murphy said. “We know there’s a lot of demand for it. We’re not quite there yet.” News4 New York

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority board approved toll hikes for the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, as well as a $24 billion, 8-year capital plan. The capital plan includes 24 major projects on the Turnpike and 29 on the Parkway, including pavement “preservation,” lighting upgrades, median barrier improvements, bridge rehabilitation and a $900 million effort to convert all tolls on both highways to E-ZPass and pay-by-mail. Additionally, the plan establish a new toll exit—19W—near the Meadowlands. PoliticoNJ

New Jersey secured $91.5 million from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for the replacement of the North Portal Bridge and to improve service along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail line. FRA awarded about $55.1 million for the bridge, designed with a 50-foot clearance above the Hackensack River, negating the need to open for marine traffic. About $36.4 million of the total was earmarked for the reconstruction of electrical substation 41 in Kearny, damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

The total value of New Jersey’s pension fund for public workers dropped below $74 billion as of the end of April, after having risen to near $80 billion in the months leading up to the onset of the pandemic. In addition, investment returns for the first 10 months of the current fiscal year were in negative territory, down 2.5%.  NJ Spotlight

The New Jersey Lottery is expected to come up about $115 million short in its $1 billion annual contribution to the public worker pension fund as the coronavirus pandemic has slowed ticket sales. Revenue updates from the state’s Treasury Department show lottery ticket sales were down approximately 27% below March 2019’s total, and in April proceeds were about 26% lower than the same month last year.

The Archdiocese of Newark lifted more cemetery COVID-19 restrictions. The archdiocese expanded burial services to up to 25 family members and lengthened visitation hours on Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m at its eight cemeteries in Jersey City, Newark, North Arlington, East Hanover, Colonia, Mahwah, Franklin Lakes and East Orange. The Jersey Journal

Sparta Schools Superintendent Michael Rossi was placed on administrative leave just seven months after signing a five-year contract. The move came immediately after the the town’s board of education held a 20-minute special executive session for a “personnel and matters of attorney client privilege” matter. The board’s resolution stated the leave is “for personal reasons until further notice.” New Jersey Herald

And finally…Most relationships are surviving the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a new Monmouth University poll.

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