North Jersey News Roundup for Oct. 28, 2020

State officials rolled out New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination plan when one becomes available, designed to provide equitable access, achieve maximum community protection and build public trust in advance of an approved vaccine. New Jersey submitted its draft COVID-19 vaccination plan to the CDC on Oct. 16, with aspirations to vaccinate 70% of adults in the state. The initial allotment of vaccines to states is expected to be limited, with priority for healthcare workers, essential workers and vulnerable populations, including those 65 and older.

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a civil rights investigation into New Jersey’s state-run veterans homes, citing a lack of cooperation with an earlier probe as well as concerns over the quality of care at the facilities. “Recent reports suggest that the number of COVID-19 deaths at some nursing homes, including New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park and New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus … two long-term care facilities operated by the state, have been understated,” according to a letter sent to Gov. Phil Murphy. “(There is) cause for concern that the quality of medical care at these nursing homes has been deficient.” PoliticoNJ

Jersey City Public Schools are poised to continue remote learning until February as an uptick of COVID-19 cases continues across the state. The city’s school superintendent recommended extending remote learning until the end of the second marking period on Feb. 2, 2021. Staff members who have been working remotely will return to the schools two weeks earlier. The Jersey Journal

Instruction at Bayonne public schools will remain virtual until Dec. 1. The district will continue remote learning due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the city as it continues to procure proper heating and ventilation systems necessary to bring students back to the classroom. Hudson Reporter

Passaic’s Board of Education approved plans to keep city students learning remotely until Feb. 5, 2021. Officials cited a key factor was health data at the end of August compared with now, daily coronavirus case rate are currently at a much higher rate. The Record

Rowan University will offer free COVID-19 tests for all students and employees before Thanksgiving in an effort to help reduce the spread of the virus. Saliva and nasal tests for the over 6,000 students who live on campus or nearby in Glassboro are scheduled to be available starting the week of Nov. 16.

Two states were added to New Jersey’s travel advisory for the coronavirus, bringing the total to 41 states and territories considered COVID-19 hot spots. California and Massachusetts were added to the list asking people traveling from or returning to the Garden State to quarantine for 14 days. New Jerseyans didn’t need to quarantine when traveling to neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Delaware despite all three of the states meeting the criteria to be on the advisory. News12 New Jersey

Travelers who refuse to mask up while using transportation or facilities run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey could face a $50 fine starting Nov. 2. In announcing the new policy, the Port Authority said it would continue to encourage “voluntary compliance” at its locations, which include PATH stations and trains, the terminals at Newark Liberty Airport as well as LaGuardia and JFK airports, and the Midtown and George Washington Bridge bus stations.

Three New Jersey hospital chains paid former Gov. Chris Christie’s lobbying firm $180,000 from July to September as he lobbied on coronavirus issues. Christie 55 Solutions LLC was paid $60,000 apiece by Atlantic Health System, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health to lobby on “regulatory issues in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency” as well as the $2 trillion stimulus CARES Act and the paycheck protection program for small businesses.

A nine-bill package to improve how New Jersey investigates and prosecutes cases involving sexual assault and sexual harassment was recently introduced by State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37). The measures seek to protect victims’ rights, improve law enforcement and judicial case management and codify state government policies for sexual harassment and discrimination. The proposed changes include requiring trainings for prosecutors on handling sexual assault cases, allowing victims to review police reports regarding their assaults prior to filing and mandating the state attorney general to conduct audits of sexual assault cases and then reporting the data to legislators.

The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness is warning residents to be on the lookout for disinformation ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Officials with the office say that bad information about the election could come from hostile governments or domestic extremists, with information expected to go viral in the days surrounding Election Day. “They’re trying to cause chaos, to cause people to have mistrust in our system itself—the election system,” says NJOHS Director Jared Maples. News12 New Jersey

New Jersey legislators in the Assembly are pursuing a bill aiming to protect voters from intimidation through the use of “poll watchers” and law enforcement officers stationed at state polling sites. The legislation, approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Oct. 26, would address potential voter suppression tactics that Democrats have raised leading up to the Nov. 3 general election. “A voter’s right to cast their ballot is a constitutional right that should remain unencumbered, and unthreatened,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-35), a co-sponsor of the bill. “Voter intimidation and suppression comes in many forms and can happen anywhere. We’ve seen this done before right here in New Jersey.”

The Hoboken City Council is expected to approve all Hoboken restaurants and bars must close at midnight starting Oct. 29, in response to the quickening spread of the coronavirus in Hudson County. The order creating the 12 a.m. closing requirement follows an ordinance tacking on a $250 to $1,000 fine for disorderly indoor gatherings that exceed coronavirus capacity limits. The Jersey Journal

The chair of the New Milford Planning Board and a ranking officer in the borough’s Fire Department was charged with multiple sex-related offenses, including accusations related to child pornography. According to Bergen County prosecutors, Angelo DeCarlo viewed pornographic images of prepubescent and pubescent children on the internet and engaged in sexually explicit conversations with underage girls online, which included trading nude photographs with the minors and engaging in sexually explicit video chats. The Record

And finally…Ranking the 50 Halloween candies, from worst to best.

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