North Jersey News Roundup for Aug. 10, 2020

As New Jersey continues its battle against the COVID-19 outbreak, state officials are urging cooperation with contact tracers. “The greatest impediment to contact tracing has been from people not answering the phone or refusing to assist our contact tracers,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. According to Murphy, 45% of people who have tested positive have “refused to provide any contact information” to contact tracers, who are tasked with reaching out to COVID-19 positive individuals to try and figure out who they might have exposed in order to limit the virus’ spread.

There were still 43,486 customers without power in New Jersey as of Aug. 9. Official numbers released showed Orange & Rockland reporting 1,430 customers out in Bergen County and 832 customers in Passaic County and PSE&G showed about 3,000 customers still without power, primarily in Bergen and Essex counties. Jersey Central Power & Light, which had been the most affected, was reporting 1,834 outages in Essex County, 9,135 in Morris County and 1,057 in Passaic County. The Record

Rep. Josh Gottheimer wants Orange & Rockland Utilities to work 24/7 until power outage issues related to Tropical Storm Isaias are solved. “With hot summer temperatures and many families working from home, it’s very frustrating that O&R is not working around the clock — 24/7 — to restore power to North Jersey residents,” Gottheimer said.  “Other utility companies have organized teams to work in shifts through every hour of the day to get electricity back up.” New Jersey Globe

President Donald Trump announced he would move forward with multiple executive actions designed to provide relief as his aides were unable to reach a deal with Democratic congressional leaders on a new pandemic relief package. The series of measures President Trump signed are intended to revive unemployment benefits, address an eviction ban, provide relief for student borrowers and suspend collection of payroll taxes. PoliticoNJ

Bergen County’s coronavirus outbreak led to a 31% increase in spending in the county’s 2020 budget, which comes with a 4% hike in the county tax levy. The county plans to shell out $741,887,685 this year, a $177.7 million increase from last year’s total appropriations. Most of that amount—$172.7 million—is being reimbursed by the federal government, largely with CARES Act stimulus dollars. The Record

The state’s Small Landlord Emergency Grant Program will allow owners of small rental apartment buildings to tap into a pool of $25 million in grant money to make up for rent that tenants affected by the crisis couldn’t pay from April to July. The landlords who receive the federal funds will be required to cancel the back rent and late fees those tenants weren’t able to pay in that time. The program is open to landlords of residential properties with three to 10 units.

New Jersey would lose one of its seats in the House of Representatives if estimated numbers of immigrants not legally in the U.S. are subtracted from the tally used for apportionment, according to a University of Virginia analysis. New Jersey, along with California, and Texas would lose seats, while Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio would gain. New Jersey peaked at 15 seats for the 1960s and 1970s, then lost seats after the counts in 1980, 1990 and 2010.

OPINION: A new mask mandate is needed as fatigue has begun to set in for the general public, something Gov. Phil Murphy recently acknowledged. “I know we’re all getting a little fatigued, but we cannot give coronavirus one more inch,” he said. “Let’s keep doing what we need to do to get our numbers back down.” To combat the fatigue, it is time for Murphy and the New Jersey Department of Health to mandate the wearing of a mask at all times in all situations. And politicians on both sides of the aisle must be leaders in wearing masks at all times when interacting in public and private settings.

Jersey City Board of Education unanimously approved a plan to start the school year with 100% remote learning because of recent spikes in coronavirus cases where schools have reopened nationwide. The decision is a step back from the district’s previously announced plans to open the state’s second-largest school district with 33% of students returning for in-person instruction on Sept. 10. The Jersey Journal

The Butler School District will require all students and staff in buildings to wear Bluetooth armbands to provide daily temperature readings, sending reports to nurses to track health statistics. Students and staff will be required to charge those armbands daily and wear them inside school buildings. No student will be allowed inside a school without an armband. News12 New Jersey

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is advising families to keep their children out of classrooms while the coronavirus continues to spread. “At this rate, I would advise everybody to keep their children home from school…I wouldn’t send anybody to school,” said Baraka. NJ Spotlight

A legal crop of marijuana will be reaped by TerrAscend sometime in the fourth quarter of this year in Boonton Township. The first harvest will come from the existing 37,000-sq. ft.  greenhouse, while new construction will expand its capacity to 140,000-sq. ft. and add indoor cultivation and post-harvest manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, the company plans to launch a line of medical products and will open the first Apothecarium-branded dispensary in Warren County. New Jersey Herald

And finally…Big Ten presidents discussed the fate of the college football season, with speculation that cancellation could be announced soon.

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