North Jersey News Roundup for Nov. 9, 2020

As more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases were reported in New Jersey over the weekend, officials asked residents to overcome the weariness in fighting COVID-19. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said while New Jersey is not alone with cases increasing exceptionally, tougher times are ahead. “Many states are also seeing record cases and severe strains in their hospital capacity. Top health leaders have cautioned that they expect the situation to get worse as the weather gets colder and more people gather inside,” said Persichilli at a news briefing Nov. 5. “As I’ve said before, this virus has not taken a break and we cannot either. Pandemic fatigue is a real threat to containing COVID-19.”

President-elect Joe Biden will unveil a group of scientists and experts to help him craft a plan to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Biden said those advisers would help him take the proposals he’s released during the campaign for dealing with the pandemic—which include investments in personal protective equipment and loans for small businesses as well as plans to implement more standardized public health guidelines—and turn those proposals into a “blueprint” that he’ll enact when inaugurated president next January.

New Jersey Commissioner of Health Judy Persichilli appeared on “60 Minutes,” expressing the concerns officials have about distributing a vaccine in the state. “My biggest fear is that we are dealing with a surge in our hospitals, in our emergency rooms when we are trying to vaccinate and the hospitals will have to spend their time taking care of people, and that will impact the staffing of vaccine sites within our hospitals,” said Persichilli. News12 New Jersey

An early peek at Pfizer’s vaccine data suggests the shots may be 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, indicating the company is on track later this month to file an emergency use application with U.S. regulators. Authorities stressed it’s unlikely any vaccine will arrive much before the end of the year, and limited initial supplies will be rationed. This analysis, from an independent data monitoring board, looked at 94 infections recorded so far in a study that has enrolled nearly 44,000 people in the U.S. and five other countries. The New York Times

River Dell Regional School District will begin a new student schedule Nov. 9, one that aims to bring virtual classes in the afternoon. Students in the district, which serves middle school and high school students in River Edge and Oradell, are split into two groups who attend school on different days twice a week, with Wednesday being a fully virtual day for everyone. Previously, the students would be in the school building until 12:50 p.m. and then sent home. The Record

An outbreak of COVID-19 cases inside the Fort Dix federal prison is rapidly spreading. According to a report from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, there were 214 positive cases as of Nov. 5. It’s the second-highest amount of active cases out of every system in the country. NJ Spotlight News

Wayne will begin a full week of virtual learning Nov. 9, as the K-12 district comes to grips with more potential cases of COVID-19 than its contact tracers can handle. Sports and other extracurricular activities were suspended until at least Nov. 16. Three high school Halloween parties were attended by guests who tested positive for the disease. Because guests have siblings in lower grades, the district deemed it necessary to close all 15 schools. The Record

Joe Biden offered himself to the nation as a leader who “seeks not to divide, but to unify” after being declared the winner of Pennsylvania to defeat President Donald Trump to become the 46th president of the United States on Nov. 7. “I sought this office to restore the soul of America,” Biden said in a prime-time victory speech not far from his Delaware home, “and to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, to see each other again, to listen to each other again, to make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.” The Wall Street Journal

If President Donald Trump exhausts all legal challenges that could affect the election, he should concede to President-elect Joe Biden, said former Gov. Chris Christie. “The votes need to be counted and the president has a right to pursue the legal options that wants to pursue and he’s going to pursue those,” Christie said. “I would hope that if he pursues those legal options and that they turned out not to bear fruit—and I said, I haven’t seen any evidence yet at all that they should—that he would do that, that he would make a speech that, you know, would … try to be one to help people to understand that the election is over—and that we need to move on.”

OPINION: President-Elect Biden must be true to his pledge he stated that while he campaigned as a Democrat, “I will govern as an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as I will for those who did vote for me.” But the only way to get there is by finding middle ground with Republicans; conversely, members of the GOP must be willing to work with their counterparts to find solutions to issues of today and tomorrow instead of an ideology of “No” because it is an idea from a Democrat.

The state’s regional Motor Vehicle Commission center in Trenton will be closed for two weeks following an employee testing positive for the coronavirus. Currently, four other MVC facilities are closed due to COVID-19: West Deptford Oakland, Paterson and Runnemede. All MVC offices are closed Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal issued a statement noting while the ballot measure to legalize marijuana was approved, it is still illegal to possess marijuana. The ballot measure requires the State Senate and Assembly to establish a regulatory scheme, which is not expected until 2021 at the earliest. As such, all criminal laws relating to marijuana in the Garden State will remain in effect until the Legislature acts.

Citing concerns about “significant structural deficits,” S&P Global Ratings lowered New Jersey’s credit rating for general-obligation bonds one notch to “BBB+” on Nov. 6. The S&P downgrade comes as Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration is preparing to issue $4.29 billion in new debt without voter approval to help offset revenue losses triggered by the health crisis. The debt sale is currently planned for Nov. 18. NJ Spotlight News

Bloomingdale Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy died on Nov. 6 night at the age of 56. Mayor for nine years, the town issued a statement announcing his passing, but did not provide a cause of death.

And finally…”Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek died Nov. 8 after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. 

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