Days after calling for the State Senate to prioritize a bill allowing the New Jersey to borrow to help cover budget holes created by the coronavirus pandemic, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Gov. Phil Murphy announced a deal on July 10.
The agreement would allow the state to borrow up to nearly $10 billion in order to help fix a budget deficit created by the COVID-19 crisis expected to reach $20 billion over the next two fiscal years.
“I am very proud and happy to announce that the Senate will move legislation to provide our administration with the full authority we need to borrow the funds we need to keep our state afloat,” the governor said.
“We have reached an agreement on legislation that would authorize state borrowing in amounts up to $9.9 billion to address the financial consequences of the coronavirus outbreak, but only with the approval of a legislative commission,” Sweeney said in a press statement. “This agreement will ensure we will have the resources needed to respond to this fiscal and economic crisis in a responsible way.”
It is expected the Senate Budget Committee will meet on July 14 to consider the legislation, followed by a full Senate vote on July 16.
The bill creates a four-person Select Commission on Emergency COVID-19 Borrowing, composed of two members each of the Senate and Assembly, tasked with approve each request to borrow with a majority vote. Sweeney and State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36), Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman, will serve on the commission as the Senate members.
All Options Open
Even with the agreement, Murphy stressed federal aid and tax increases are still options that will need to be explored.
“We need the federal cash, and we are likely going to need revenue raisers,” said Murphy.
The first-term Democratic governor has ordered a 15% cut across board cut at all departments in state government in order to cut the deficit and has painted a grim picture if bonding authority were not passed, including cuts to first responders, education and social services in the next budget.
Murphy said borrowing will allow the state to fund programs to help those most affected by the coronavirus.
“If you are newly unemployed, if you own a restaurant who can not get open on the inside, or a theater, we will do everything we can to be there for you,” said Murphy. “You have my word—that borrowing capability puts us in a much better place.”
As of July 10, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 174,039 with 335 new cases and 53 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,476. The state increased the probable death count to 1,947, bringing the overall total to 15,423.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted that of the number of new deaths they were able to confirm, 18 happened before the month of July.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,812, followed by Bergen at 1,751, Hudson with 1,302, Passaic at 1,060, Morris at 664, Sussex at 157 and Warren with 153.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 272, Essex has 249, Hudson has 179, Passaic 158, Morris 154, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 14.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of July 6 was reported at 2.2%, down a full point from July 4. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 1.8%, the central at 2.2% and the south 4.3%.
As for the rate of transmission, it dropped below 1.0 for the first time in about a week to 0.98. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 904 patients are hospitalized with or are under investigation for having coronavirus while 76 patients were discharged. The north tier had 389 patients hospitalized, the central 270 and the south 245.
Of those hospitalized, 162 are in intensive care units and 94 on ventilators.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 19,827, followed by Hudson at 19,056, Essex at 18,954, Passaic at 17,030, Middlesex at 17,005, Union at 16,460, Ocean at 9,781, Monmouth at 9,404, Mercer at 7,773, Camden at 7,631, Morris at 6,875, Burlington at 5,332, Somerset at 4,974, Cumberland at 3,043, Atlantic at 2,987, Gloucester at 2,612, Warren at 1,262, Sussex at 1,221, Hunterdon at 1,096, Salem at 812 and Cape May at 726.
Another 667 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state.
In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.
A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 5% under the age of 49.
State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn test positive for COVID-19. No new cases were reported July 10, leaving the total at 51 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Nine are currently hospitalized. No deaths have been reported from the disease.
Persichilli stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, Persichilli reported the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 39% Hispanic, 34% Black, 16% White, 7% Asian and 5% other.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 557 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 36,839 of the cases, broken down between 24,366 residents and 12,473 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 6,662 on July 10. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,604 residents deaths and 119 staff deaths.
In a by-county breakdown:
- 62 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 3312 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 1746 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 934 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 11 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 46 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 2208 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 1067 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 569 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 20 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 42 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1444 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 731 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 489 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 3 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 25 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1308 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 766 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 393 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 15 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 15 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1009 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 575 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 253 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 8 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 7 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 260 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 151 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 109 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 4 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 7 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 410 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 135 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 122 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 1 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
A dangerous situation seems to have a lifeline!The GOP is looking at a court challenge! How Silly! Good luck to Governor Murphy and the Senate President!