North Jersey News Roundup for Sept. 8, 2020

With an eye toward Fall and the flu season, state health officials are reinforcing the importance of protecting oneself against COVID-19. State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli shared an overview of various treatments being used on patients with coronavirus, from steroids to convalescent plasma therapy. But, in the absence of a widespread distribution of a vaccine or treatment, Persichilli urged New Jerseyans to do what they can to “protect yourself and others. Practice social distancing, stay at least six feet apart. Wear a face covering, wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, and use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.”

Nine staff members inside a Sussex County long-term care facility have tested positive for the coronavirus, which has contributed to an uptick in confirmed cases over the past week, according to the Sussex County Department of Health. The county health department reported staff at United Methodist Communities at Bristol Glen in Newton had tested positive. The nine are part of a total 44 new cases reported in Sussex County between Aug. 28 through Sept. 4. New Jersey Herald

U.S. Senators return to Washington from their annual summer recess no closer to resolving sharp divisions over another coronavirus aid package and now facing a potential government shutdown that could deepen the economic pain. Senate Republican leaders are hoping to reach agreement in their caucus around a scaled-back stimulus plan that would reinstate lapsed federal unemployment benefits at $300 per week—half their previous level—and allocate $105 billion for schools and funds for testing and the Postal Service. The New York Times

An unemployment benefit for New Jerseyans providing an additional $300 a week to those out of work due to COVID-19 has gained approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency under its Lost Wages Assistance program. Unlike the $600 a week supplemental payment that expired in July, those who were unemployed before COVID-19 are not eligible for the $300 a week benefit nor those receiving less than $100 a week in unemployment. News12 New Jersey

Senate Republican Budget Officer Steve Oroho (R- 24) wants at least one Senate Budget Committee meeting that is open for public testimony on the 2021 budget. In a letter to State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36), chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, Oroho wrote “Allowing (the Murphy) Administration to get away with such a lack of disclosure on such a large budget will be negligent on the part of our co-equal branch of government.”

State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-28) has requested the Senate Judiciary Committee chair be replaced by a member willing to advance marijuana decriminalization bill to immediately correct social injustice in New Jersey. In a letter to Senate President Steve Sweeney, Rice noted he recently requested that the bill be voted on or reassigned to another committee. Having received no response to his appeal for a meeting with Sweeney and Judiciary Committee Chair Nicholas Scutari, Rice is now calling for a change in leadership. Insider NJ

NJ Transit is introducing vending machines to dispense Personal Protective Equipment. Machines supplying face masks, hand sanitizer, sanitized wipes and disposable gloves are available at Newark Penn Station and Hoboken Terminal and will be installed over the coming weeks at other stations including Secaucus Junction and Summit Station. Hudson Reporter

A bill to make New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) services more accessible to New Jersey’s elderly citizens recently received final legislative approval. The bill would allow the MVC to renew driver’s licenses and non-driver identification cards for a maximum of 12 years, while allowing for the indefinite use of stored photos for seniors over the age 65. Additionally, MVC would designate times each week for appointments for certain individuals, including seniors, during the COVID-19 emergency.

Jersey City will spend the next year upgrading Reservoir 3 in a long-awaited $6 million project to make it a recreational destination. In its largest park project since Berry Lane Park, the city will introduce new recreational open spaces, an enhanced walking trail and fencing and light fixtures. The city will contribute $3 million to the project, with the remaining $3 million made up of four grants ranging from $400,000 to $1 million. The Jersey Journal

And finally…Has the coronavirus made Phil Murphy the most powerful governor in America? PoliticoNJ

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