North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 7, 2020

Halloween will be celebrated in New Jersey this year. “Yes, Halloween is on,” said Gov. Phil Murphy at his press briefing Oct. 5. The New Jersey Department of Health released its guidance on how residents can celebrate the holiday this year, including on how to trick or treat, the handing out of candy and going to traditional activities such as hayrides and haunted houses. Additionally, health officials want all celebrating the holiday to continue to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth, follow social distancing guidelines and make sure to wash hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. 

President Donald Trump ended negotiations until after the election on a new coronavirus stimulus bill just hours after his hand-picked Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell, called for another round of spending. President Trump said in a series of tweets that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was demanding $2.4 trillion to “bailout poorly run, high crime Democrat states.” The House proposal to address the coronavirus-caused economic downturn had a total price tag of $2.2 trillion and included $436 billion in state and local aid to help pay salaries of their police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers, schoolteachers and other public employees. Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., should instead focus on confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. The Wall Street Journal

After resistance, Vice President Mike Pence has accepted the use of plexiglass barriers for the debate tonight against Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). The The Commission on Presidential Debates previously announced it would use plexiglass dividers at the event, along with mandating candidates be seated 12 feet apart. The New York Times 

The 11th Congressional District race between Rep. Mikie Sherrill and GOP challenger Rosemary Becchi is considered a bellwether race for the country, contesting two women with strong resumes to serve in office in a district that sent a Democrat to Washington in 2018 for the first time in over 30 years. Sherrill is running on a bipartisan record of accomplishments, including securing funding for the Portal North Bridge, while Becchi has promoted a pro-business and law enforcement platform.

Two New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agency locations in North Jersey will be closed for several days due to employees testing positive for COVID-19. The Newark regional/licensing center will be closed until Oct. 16 and the North Bergen licensing center will be closed until Oct. 20. The locations will remain closed until contact tracers clear a sufficient number of employees to reopen or, if quarantine is necessary, that period is observed. The Record

GOP Senate challenger Rik Mehta said he will not quarantine despite attending President Donald Trump’s fundraising event in Bedminster as urged from state health officials. Stating that he and his wife were never closer than 40 feet from the president, Mehta said “There’s absolutely no good public health or scientific reason to do so. There is no good public health guidance that says you would jump to quarantining. The fear-mongering has to stop.” News12 New Jersey

New Jersey re-added New Mexico to its coronavirus travel advisory, bringing the list back up to 35 U.S. states and territories considered COVID-19 hotspots. No other states or territories were added or dropped to the list. The state is asking travelers from 33 states and two territories to get a coronavirus test and self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in New Jersey, including Garden State residents returning home from a trip. News12 New Jersey

New Jersey recorded an 8% decline in fatal drug overdoses this past summer. Between June and August, there were 754 opioid-overdose deaths in New Jersey, compared with 821 in the same period a year earlier—a drop of 67. Overdose deaths dropped 14% in August and 12% in July, after a 4% increase in June.

New Jersey can begin counting mail-in ballots 10 days before Election Day and may accept mail-in ballots without a postmark up to two days after Nov. 3, a federal judge ruled. Democratic lawmakers and the state attorney general’s office had argued both changes were necessary to help counties handle the upcoming surge in mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. The judge found Republicans failed to show that either would cause “immediate, irreparable harm” and blocking the changes during the final weeks of the campaign could “prompt such confusion or distrust” in mail-in ballots that more voters might end up risking their health by voting in person. New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy joined 11 other U.S. governors to condemn threats to the democratic process amid recent reports of efforts designed to circumvent the election results. “We do not take for granted the sacred right of every American to cast a vote, and to have that vote counted, in the presidential election held every four years. It is a right that is foundational to our democracy and essential to the continuation of our constitutional system of government—something to be cherished, revered and defended by elected leaders at all levels,” the governors wrote.

Citigroup terminated an employee from New Jersey who was identified as the operator behind one of the largest websites promoting QAnon conspiracy theories. A Berkeley Heights resident , the “sole developer and mouthpiece” of the site, “is no longer employed by Citi,” a Citigroup company spokesperson said. “Our code of conduct includes specific policies that employees are required to adhere to, and when breaches are identified, the firm takes action.”

Facebook stepped up its crackdown on QAnon, removing more groups and pages devoted to the conspiracy-theory movement that has thrived on social media. The company said the new policy, based in part on an increased understanding of how QAnon messaging is evolving, will now ban any pages or groups dedicated to QAnon across Facebook, as well as Instagram accounts focused on QAnon content. The new policy doesn’t ban individuals from posting about the movement. The Wall Street Journal

Bayonne’s city council introduced an ordinance authorizing the spending of capital improvement funds to purchase the school property of Marist High School. The ordinance would draw $100,000 that would act as a “down payment” toward purchasing the property, which is assessed at $8.9 million. Hudson Reporter

And finally…Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen has died at age 65 after a battle with cancer.

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