North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 22, 2020

Gov. Phil Murphy will self-quarantine after being in contact with members of his senior staff who tested positive for the coronavirus. The governor’s office released a statement later that Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy were tested, with the results negative. The Governor and First Lady canceled all of their in-person events to voluntarily quarantine through the end of the weekend. Each will take an additional COVID-19 test before they resume any in-person engagements.

According to a spokesman, Gov. Phil Murphy was at a bar in Hoboken Oct. 17 when he came into contact with a senior staffer who later tested positive for the coronavirus. The Governor and First Lady were at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten with Murphy’s communications director Mahen Gunaratna and his wife, when they were joined by Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Delamater for about 15 minutes. Both Delamater and Murphy senior adviser Dan Bryan later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Westwood’s recreational activities are being postponed for two weeks following a decision by the regional school district to pause in-person instruction for the rest of the month. The Northwest Bergen Health Commission identified close to 20 new COVID-19 cases in Washington Township and approximately 30 new cases in Westwood since the end of September, with eight cases in the school community. Recreation programs are scheduled to resume on Nov. 2. The Record

Ramapo High School has moved to fully remote instruction after five confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the last month. Remote instruction will be in effect through Oct. 30 with in-person extracurricular activities and athletics suspended through the end of the month. The other school in the district, Indian Hills High School, was unaffected. The Record

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested a deal on a coronavirus relief package may not come together before the Nov. 3 elections. “I’m optimistic, because even with what Mitch McConnell says—we don’t want to do it before the election—but let’s keep working so that we can do it after the election,” she said. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate was unable to pass a narrow, $500 billion GOP-pushed COVID-19 relief package. PoliticoNJ

National security officials announced Iran and Russia have obtained American voter registration data, providing the first concrete evidence the two countries are stepping in to try to influence the Presidential election as it enters its final two weeks. Officials said Iran used the information to send threatening, faked emails to voters from the Proud Boys, but noted there was no indication that any election result tallies were changed or that information about who is registered to vote was altered. The New York Times

The New Jersey Democratic congressional delegation is urging the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to boost the federal response to the Proud Boys, a white supremacist group they say has increased its activity in the state. In an Oct. 13 letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, lawmakers in the House of Representatives wrote they believe “the clear threat and pattern of violence demonstrated by members of groups like the Proud Boys merits increased security by the Bureau to protect public safety.”

The New Jersey Department of Health issued new directives aimed at allowing more families to visit residents in nursing homes. The guidance now allows all long-term care facilities in the state with no new COVID cases in the last 14 days to expand indoor visitation and will permit the use of cheaper and faster test kits to screen guests for COVID-19, which the state had been reluctant to approve because of concerns over their accuracy.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer recently announced Veterans in Northwestern New Jersey are able to receive referrals for healthcare services at the Newton ImageCare Center. Veterans previously had to travel more than an hour to the East Orange VA Medical Center for services like MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds, and cancer screenings, something Gottheimer characterized as “simply unacceptable.” 

The state’s Attorney General’s Office will wait until the state Supreme Court rules before releasing the names of police officers who have been disciplined. An appellate decision recently upheld a directive to publicize the names of officers from all state, county and local law enforcement agencies who have received major discipline for misconduct. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said no names would be made public until Nov. 30 in order to give affected officers time to challenge the release while balancing the public’s need for transparency about police.

NJ Transit will redesign the microgrid, known as Transitgrid, to supplement or replace the plan for power generation with renewable technology. A Request for Qualifications is scheduled for Nov. 25, which will award up to $1 million to eligible submissions to develop design and construction solutions. A Request for Proposals to integrate renewable technology will be issued in December 2021 and a contract awarded a year after that. New Jersey Herald

More than 2 million voters in New Jersey returned their mail-in ballots as of Oct. 21, according to the state’s Division of Elections. That’s nearly a third of the 6.4 million mail-in ballots that have been sent to voters, and it doubles the count from only six days ago.

2020 ELECTION PROFILE: Reps. Donald Payne and Albio Sires are two long-serving Congressmen being challenged by GOP nominees Jennifer Zinone and Jason Todd Mushnick. The race in the 8th and 10th Congressional Districts are two of the most reliable Democratic districts in the Garden State.

And finally…President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will face off in the final Presidential debate tonight. News12 New Jersey

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