North Jersey News Roundup for June 29, 2020

Rep. Josh Gottheimer is placing the blame for the lack of a national plan allowing the coronavirus to spread and ensuing economic fallout on Donald Trump. “I would give President Trump a failing grade for leadership during this crisis,” said Gottheimer in a recent interview with “The President failed to provide strong leadership nationally on issues such as testing and building a supply chain to confront the coronavirus. ”

Cases of the new coronavirus continued to surge in the U.S., while parts of the country pulled back reopenings and some faced strains on hospital and testing capacity. Worldwide, confirmed COVID-19 infections topped 10.1 million, with more than a half-million deaths. The U.S. accounts for about a quarter of each figure. The Wall Street Journal

New Jersey regulators are facing a backlog of 4,000 nursing home complaints, including 700 considered “high priority” and some filed more than two years ago. The backlog is fueled in part by a long-standing lack of staff and other resources within the state’s Department of Health investigatory arm charged with responding to these concerns. NJ Spotlight

As New Jersey takes significant steps in reopening this week, Gov. Phil Murphy laid out guidelines for indoor activities set to open their doors July 2 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Starting June 29, indoor malls are able to reopen followed on July 2 with the ability for indoor businesses to welcome back their patrons—including restaurants, libraries, museums, aquariums and gyms—but with capacity limits mandated on each. On the list to open the Thursday before the July 4th weekend are casinos and racetracks.

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission delayed in-person transactions scheduled to begin June 29 until July 7, while the text notification system undergoes final testing. Chief Administrator Sue Fulton said that the delay is because the text notification system that will be utilized for social distancing purposes needs further testing. Inspections stations and driver’s license road tests may resume reopened as scheduled June 29.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted unanimously to allow restaurants and retail stores to increase prices as much as 10% at the region’s three major airports. Airport businesses are currently required to adhere to street pricing, which means they can’t charge more than the goods cost locally outside the airport. The pricing change was necessary after the board decided in 2018 to increase the minimum wage for airport workers to $19 an hour by 2023. The Wall Street Journal

Students will return to classrooms across New Jersey in the fall, but should be prepared to social distance and wear masks in tight spaces, according to reopening guidance released by the state June 26. The Department of Education’s 104-page plan sets a minimum framework for reopening, leaving school districts to make many decisions about what the school year will look like. The state will require some in-person instruction in every district, but does not set a specific number of hours or days.

A Paterson councilman is seeking an injunction against his newly-elected opponent, who was one of four men charged with voting fraud by the state Attorney General. Third Ward Councilman Bill McKoy filed a motion seeking an injunction to stop Third Ward Councilman-elect Alex Mendez from being sworn in June 30, with hopes to have the results decertified and a special election scheduled for the ward.

State officials are investigating the death of a man who died while in police custody near a state police substation in Totowa. The unidentified man was arrested during a motor vehicle stop after police found narcotics in his vehicle, then suffered an “undetermined medical emergency” shortly after he was arrested around 11:30 a.m. The trooper, other responding troopers and paramedics administered medical aid. The Record

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is moving forward with a plan to train police on how to reduce deadly incidents in situations involving mental-health breakdowns. The Crisis Intervention Team pilot program will pair 20 officers at a time with 20 mental health professionals and social workers to learn techniques on peacefully resolving situations. The first officers will be trained in Atlantic City, Millville, Paterson, Trenton, and the State Police assigned to the Statehouse in Trenton.

Princeton University is removing President Woodrow Wilson’s name from the school. The school cites Wilson’s racist views and policies in removing his name from Wilson College and the School of Public and International Policy. News12 New Jersey

And finally…The New Jersey sales tax on medical marijuana will be cut to 4% on July 1. New Jersey Herald

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