North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 1, 2020

Of the 3,000 schools in New Jersey, state officials have documented just 11 outbreaks of in-school transmission of the coronavirus since classes started in September. A total of 43 cases have been reported in seven of the 21 counties in the Garden State. For North Jersey, Bergen County has one confirmed outbreak with three cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, and Sussex County has one confirmed outbreak with two cases.  

Denville school officials closed Valleyview Middle School after health officials notified them a student had tested positive for COVID-19, switching to online schooling until Oct. 8. While district officials don’t know if the student was on campus while contagious, health officials have finished contact tracing and “this case is very localized.” The Daily Record

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli reported the positivity rate on new tests taken in Lakewood climbed to 27% as of Sept. 26, nine times the statewide spot positivity rate. In addition, Persichilli said 134 of the 722 new cases reported statewide on Sept. 30 originated in Lakewood, a community of 104,000 whose growth has been fueled by a large Orthodox Jewish community. PoliticoNJ

Jersey City’s school superintendent is considering shortening the school day, citing parents’ concern over how much time they are spending aiding the children in their schoolwork. Most of the people who reached out to the district were parents of children in the lower grades who may need more help during their remote learning. The Jersey Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy doesn’t expect to have to shutdown the state again in the widespread way he did in March despite a recent uptick in daily cases and the threat of a second wave in the Fall and Winter. “I sure as heck hope we don’t and I do not anticipate it,” Murphy said during a virtual town hall on Facebook Live. “I will be profoundly saddened and I will say shocked if we have to shut the whole place down again. I just don’t see that.”

The New Jersey attorney general has requested troves of documents from the Paramus and Menlo Park veterans homes in a far-reaching investigation of their high death tolls during the COVID-19 pandemic as the state increased total coronavirus deaths at the two state-run facilities to 190. At the Paramus Memorial Veterans Home, an additional eight probable deaths attributed to COVID-19 by the state Health Department increased its total to 89. Before the pandemic, the home had 312 residents. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration was in “frequent communication” with the former CEO of the Schools Development Authority and gave its “tacit approval” to her questionable hiring practices, according to a new report from the State Commission of Investigation. The commission concluded that while Murphy administration officials did not rubber stamp every detail of Delgado-Polanco’s managerial decisions, including those considered ethically dubious, “their actions, and in some cases, inaction, made it clear that she conducted her overall activities as CEO with the tacit approval of the Governor’s Office.” PoliticoNJ

New Jersey’s pension fund for government workers reported a return of 1.2% in the fiscal year that ended June 30, trailing its policy benchmark and other large public public pension funds. The pension system had $75.4 billion in assets at the end of the fiscal year. In the first six months of the calendar year, its investments are down 3.54%. The state assumes the fund will return 7.5% on its investments over the long term.

State Sen. Kristin Corrado called for more transparency in the 2020 election process across the Garden State following the discovery of 6,535 mail-in ballots that were incorrectly postmarked. In a letter to New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Corrado (R-40) sought to determine who in the administration was notified of the error, and when it was reported. “Whether it’s a result of human error or blatant malfeasance, the integrity of our upcoming general election is at stake through concerning situations like this,” the State Senator said.

The Bergen County Democratic Assembly delegation has endorsed Speaker Craig Coughlin for re-election to a third term. In a press release, Speaker Pro Tempore Gordon Johnson (D-37), Gary Schaer (D-36), Clinton Calabrese (D-36), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37), Lisa Swain (D-38) and Christopher Tully (D-38) said “A fervent fighter for New Jersey, Speaker Coughlin works collaboratively with each of us, and our entire delegation, to tackle the critical issues facing middle-class families in Bergen County and throughout the state.” New Jersey Globe

Sen. Cory Booker introduced bicameral legislation to address the overwhelming proximity of pollution sites to minority and low-income communities. The Environmental Justice Legacy Pollution Cleanup Act, sponsored by Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM) in the House of Representatives, calls for $100 billion to be invested to clean up legacy pollution, along with prohibiting major source air pollution permits in vulnerable communities. Funding will be used to address access to clean water and eliminate exposure to lead paint.

And finally…The New Jersey gas tax increase goes into effect today, increasing a gallon of gas in the state by around 10 cents a gallon. News12 New Jersey

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