North Jersey News Roundup for July 2, 2020

The day before the state took its biggest step in reopening New Jersey, officials drove home the message for residents to keep up measures used in combating the coronavirus. “It isn’t up to some of us to beat COVID-19. It’s up to every single one of the nine million of us,” said Gov. Phil Murphy, as he continued to push the case for social distancing, face covering and repeated hand washing. “Take personal responsibility. Do not get lulled into complacency.” Opening up July 2 are casinos, racetracks, outdoor amusement and water parks, libraries, museums, indoors activity centers such as bowling alleys, batting cages and gun ranges, libraries, aquariums and outdoor playgrounds. Gyms and fitness centers are allowed to hold individualized training by appointment only.

New coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose above 50,000, a single-day record, as some states and businesses reversed course on reopenings and hospitals were hit by a surge of patients. Texas Department of Health reported 6,533 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, while Arizona recorded its highest percentage of occupied ICU beds at 89%. The Wall Street Journal

New Jersey’s takeover of Newark Public Schools formally ended July 1. The state took control in July 1995, following a report accusing Newark school leaders of mismanagement, neglect and corruption in an investigation that found conflicts of interest, crumbling school facilities and inequitable distribution of resources, all part of an atmosphere that collectively would “virtually ensure academic failure.” 

Edgewater’s cut 63 school district faculty and staff members positions in order to reduce a $6 million budget deficit. The Board of Education had approved abolishing 83 positions but reduced the number by consolidating positions and taking advantage of a $500,000 gift from the mayor and council. The reductions amounted to about 40% of the teaching staff. The Record

New Jersey Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet stepped down July 1 to assume the position of president at Kean University. Repollet will remain in an advisory role with the Education Department until July 15. Kevin Dehmer, the department’s chief financial officer, will become interim commissioner while the state conducts a search for its next education chief.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that overhauls healthcare benefits for teachers in New Jersey, one projected to lower premium costs for educators and could save teachers, school districts and the state an estimated $1 billion a year. The law pares down healthcare plans teachers can choose from in the state’s School Employees’ Health Benefits Program to two of the most popular offerings while introducing two lower-cost plans. Those who enroll only in the new educators plan premiums would be based on the percentage of their salary rather than a percentage of the entire plan cost.

Unemployed workers will be eligible for an additional 20 weeks of unemployment benefits, the New Jersey Department of Labor announced. Until now, workers maxed out at 39 weeks. The state extension kicks in after claimants exhaust up to 26 weeks of state unemployment plus 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. The Daily Record

Gov. Phil Murphy said his administration has no intention to “pursue a solicitation” to privatization of Liberty State Park. “I will say unequivocally that…my administration…does not intend to use this language to pursue a solicitation to Liberty State Park,” stated Murphy. The Jersey Journal

Jersey City is implementing a contactless entry system in all public buildings, the first in the nation to implement this system. When a person attempt to enter a property, a machine scans their face to determine their temperature. If they have a fever, they will be refused entry. The system will be used in 50 public buildings, including police and fire departments. News12 New Jersey 

The New Jersey Department of Health recently denied BMC Hospital LLC’s request for an expedited review of its certificate of need to operate Bayonne Medical Center. BMC Hospital asked for expedited review alleging dire financial circumstances and hinting the medical center may close. Hudson Reporter

And finally…A biking and walking path between Jersey City and Montclair is one step closer to reality. The Jersey Journal

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