North Jersey News Roundup for Aug. 27, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy gave the go-ahead for gyms and indoor amusements facilities to open starting Sept. 1, with hopes indoor dining will be allowed before mid-September. The requirements for gyms to open include operating at 25% of indoor capacity, contact tracing protocols, restrictions on indoor group fitness classes—such as spin—to one person for every 200-sq. ft. of space in the room, masks or face coverings must be worn at all times inside the gym by staff as well as gym goers and equipment must be six feet apart.

Vice President Mike Pence was the keynote speaker for the Republican National Convention on Aug. 26, formally accepting the party’s vice-presidential nomination, in a night that highlighted President Donald Trump’s support for the military and law enforcement amid unrest in Wisconsin. Pence depicted President Trump as a heroic leader in the coronavirus crisis, casting the federal response as a success, teasing the prospect of a vaccine in the coming months and praised the Trump Administration for what he characterized as “the greatest national mobilization since World War II.” The New York Times

Games in the NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer were canceled on Aug. 26 in protest of the shooting of James Blake in Wisconsin. The actions began after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for the scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The NBA players planned to meet on Aug. 27 to determine if they will continue the playoffs. News12 New Jersey

A coalition of more than 50 religious and nonprofit leaders have asked Gov. Phil Murphy to remove Frederic Knapp as Morris County’s prosecutor and replace him with one who is “equipped to address racial incarceration disparities.” New Jersey Together compiled state and local data it said shows Black people in Morris County are more likely to be in state prison than white and Latino counterparts. The Daily Record

The U.S. Justice Department is weighing whether to investigate if four Democratic-led states, including New Jersey, violated nursing home residents’ civil rights by admitting COVID-19 patients to the facilities. Federal officials are seeking coronavirus data from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which each issued orders to admit patients into long-term care facilities who had tested positive, as long as they were medically stable, while hospitalizations spiked early in the pandemic. The DOJ request appears focused on state-run nursing homes, excluding privately run nursing homes, even if they are licensed by the state and accept payments under Medicaid. PoliticoNJ

Four bills aimed at strengthening New Jersey’s long-term care facilities against future viral outbreaks advanced in the state Assembly. On Aug. 21, the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee signed off on the measures, which include raises for certified nurse aides, funding for infection control procedures at facilities and the creation of a centralized command center to oversee long-term care centers during health emergencies.

Hurricane Laura weakened to a Category 2 storm hours after barreling ashore near the Texas-Louisiana border as a Category 4, but continued to threaten what forecasters described as lethal flooding and widespread wind damage. Laura made landfall overnight as a storm of historic proportions, with wind speeds of 150 miles an hour, surpassing Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The eye was about 45 miles northwest of Lake Charles, LA, moving northwards at a speed of about 15 miles an hour. The Wall Street Journal

State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-26) started a call for a more robust power grid that could withstand stronger storms. Pennacchio is serving as a prime sponsor for the Reliability, Preparedness and Storm Response Act which would require public utilities to issue public plans for emergency response.

New Jersey will apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Lost Wages Supplemental Assistance Program created by an executive order by President Donald Trump on Aug. 7. The initial funding would pay benefits retroactive to the weeks of Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. Then in subsequent weeks, the state would have to apply for funding each week. But rather than send weekly payments to workers, the Labor Department will probably send out the payments in a lump sum, and that probably wouldn’t come until October. New Jersey Herald

Gov. Phil Murphy defended his plan to contribute $4.9 billion to New Jersey’s pension fund for public workers as part of his proposed budget. “If the pension payment in the budget is $4.9 billion, then the minimum amount that I’m prepared to make in the final deal is $4.9 billion. Period. There’s no negotiating room,” he stated.

The Jersey City City Council adopted a $658 million municipal budget for 2020. The budget will keep municipal taxes flat, but will cut $12.5 million, or 6%, from the Department of Public Safety, and nearly $2.3 million, or 42%, from the Department of Youth Development and Recreation. The city is using $20 million in federal coronavirus CARES funds and instituted a hiring, compensation and overtime freeze that is expected to save the city $5.5 million. The Jersey Journal

And finally…Lifeguards capture a close encounter with a juvenile humpback whale off Jersey Shore coast. News12 New Jersey

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