North Jersey News Roundup for July 15, 2020

The 50% capacity limits on NJ Transit (NJT) and private-carrier buses, trains, light rail vehicles and Access Link vehicles will be lifted effective 8 p.m. July 15. The governor’s executive order eliminating the capacity limits mandates face coverings in all NJT and private carrier indoor stations, as well as those outdoor stations where social distancing is not practicable.

Transit service cuts in New Jersey could loom if a request for $36 billion more in federal aid to help agencies across the nation deal with reduced ridership and revenue due to the coronavirus is denied. “NJ Transit needs an additional $1.2 billion to get through the rest of the year,” said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit CEO, citing the extraordinary cost of sanitizing and disinfecting equipment to transport essential workers. Funding to make up for lost revenue would keep an estimated $4 billion in capital projects on track. The Record

An experimental coronavirus vaccine made by the biotech company Moderna provoked a promising immune response against the virus and appeared safe in the first 45 people who received it, researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine. Moderna’s vaccine, developed by researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in humans. Phase 3 of testing will begin on July 27, involving 30,000 people and is expected to be completed by late October. The New York Times

Gov. Phil Murphy said legalized marijuana sales could boost New Jersey’s struggling economy. To be used as a new revenue source to weather damage from the coronavirus outbreak, Murphy called legalization “an incredibly smart thing to do…We’re not inventing marijuana, it exists.”

The New Jersey Senate budget committee approved legislation giving the state the authority to borrow nearly $10 billion to cover a growing deficit stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. The state’s Republican party said the measure is unconstitutional and plans to challenge the action in court. The full legislature is scheduled to vote on the bill July 16. The Wall Street Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy has a 68%-30% job approval rating in a poll conducted by New Direction New Jersey, a non-profit group formed by outside advisors to advocate for the governor’s political agenda. Murphy’s approvals are up 14 points from a November 2019 poll conducted by the same group. The governor received a 71%-27% approval rating for his handling of COVID-19 issues, including a 51%-49% rating from Republicans. New Jersey Globe

Chris Christie’s is eyeing a run to be the Republican nominee for President in 2024. “I would certainly, you know, look at the race in 2024, and I would not back off from that at all,” Christie said.

New Jersey is 2% above the national average in residents responding to the 2020 Census, sitting at 64%. Bergen and Morris counties are both 2% behind their respective 2010 totals of 72.4% and 75.4%. Passaic lags with 62.6% so far in 2020 compared to 67.6% in 2010. The Record

The Trump Administration rescinded a rule requiring international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online in the faces of lawsuits, including one involving New Jersey’s Attorney General, and opposition from hundreds of universities. The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

New Jersey added four states—Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio and Wisconsin—to its coronavirus quarantine travel advisory and removed Delaware, bringing the list to 22 states considered COVID-19 hotspots. The quarantine applies to any state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average. News12 New Jersey

New Jersey food banks will receive $20 million to help meet growing food insecurity in the state. The funding is coming from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, distributed to the state’s six Emergency Feeding Organizations—Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, Food Bank of South Jersey, Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Mercer Street Friends, Norwescap and Fulfill—based on a “fair share” formula using their service numbers.

And finally…State Fair Meadowlands held at MetLife Stadium was canceled for the 2020 season. The Record

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