North Jersey News Roundup for Dec. 4, 2020

A feared spike in coronavirus cases from Thanksgiving in New Jersey may be happening sooner than state health officials anticipated. A day after New Jersey formally changed its travel advisory to dissuade residents from leaving the state as it anticipates an increase in cases in the next week, the state recorded a single-day record of 4,913 new cases on Dec. 3.

President-elect Joe Biden has asked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci to stay on as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “I asked him to stay on in the exact same role he’s had for the past several Presidents,” President-elect Biden said, “and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well, and be part of the COVID team.” The New York Times

New Jersey schools have been successful at stopping the virus from spreading and the numbers have been far lower than anticipated because everyone is carefully adhering to safety procedures and guidelines, said Gov, Phil Murphy. Since September, there have been 70 outbreaks and 285 coronavirus cases across the entire state. Currently 89 school districts are fully open for in-person instruction, while 438 districts are offering a hybrid mix of in-person and remote learning, and 246 districts have gone all-remote. 

Chatham High School was moved to remote learning due to parents not cooperating with coronavirus safety protocols by sending children to school when sick, not reporting positive COVID-19 results and ducking questions about Thanksgiving holiday travel, according to the schools superintendent. The Morris County school recently received reports of seven confirmed coronavirus cases, forcing it to suspend in-person instruction until Dec. 16 as a result.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke for the first time since the November election about a coronavirus relief package, along with the spending bills needed to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 11. Sen. McConnell later reported he and Rep. Pelosi are “both interested in getting an outcome” on the two issues, which features the $908 billion bipartisan, bicameral stimulus package put forward by Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Sen. Joe Manchin. The Wall Street Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy called a report that McKinsey & Company proposed to reimburse pharmaceutical companies for opioid overdose victims as “appalling” and “sickening.” The state hired the consulting firm during the COVID-19 pandemic. The news comes as the ongoing opioid epidemic appears to be growing worse during the COVID-19 outbreak, with drug overdose deaths in New Jersey up almost 10% this year.

The federal government will continue to pay 75% of the cost of deploying New Jersey National Guard troops responding to the coronavirus through March 31, 2021, according to an order signed by President Donald Trump. New Jersey has used its Guard troops to help staff long-term health facilities, particularly those for veterans.

A vacant department store in North Jersey will be used as a distribution center for the COVID-19 vaccine. Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo says that the county is planning on using the empty Sears store at the Livingston mall as a “mega-vaccination center for the coronavirus.” News12 New Jersey

Skyway Park in Jersey City will open with a memorial for the 503 city residents who died of the coronavirus this past Spring. The park will be built on a rehabilitated Superfund site along the Hackensack waterfront, adjacent to the Pulaski Skyway, where chemicals were dumped more than four decades ago. The city is investing $10 million into the park, including the trees planted in honor of residents who died of the virus but couldn’t have proper funerals because of health restrictions. The Jersey Journal

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) intends to block the proposed sale of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center to Hackensack Meridian Health. The FTC’s Bureau of Competition filed a restraining order against the merger because Hackensack Meridian would control three of the six acute-care hospitals in Bergen County, thus giving the combined hospital system increased bargaining leverage, likely leading to increased prices. The Record

Cops and prosecutors should only lock up young people who have broken the law as a last resort, according to new rules issued by State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to decrease the number of juveniles detained in New Jersey. The 33-page directive lists a variety of steps officials should take to keep minors in their communities, including allowing as many as possible to remain at home while awaiting trial. NJ Spotlight News

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed legislation revamping the way law enforcement officers (LEOs) utilize body-worn cameras. The two pieces of legislation would require all uniformed LEOs in the state to wear a body-worn camera and would regulate their use. State, county and municipal patrol LEOs would be required to wear the body cameras, subject to funding appropriated by the New Jersey Legislature. Exceptions would be permitted for LEOs operating in undercover capacities or other lawful purposes.

Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker called for an end to agreements between New Jersey counties and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house immigrant detainees. The Senators want ICE intergovernmental agreements with Bergen, Hudson, and Essex counties allowing immigrants in its custody to be housed at the county jails to be discontinued. ICE pays the counties between $110 to $120 per detainee per day. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy has stepped down as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Murphy, who is being replaced by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, will remain active in the organization as its finance chair. New Jersey Globe

And finally…“The Many Saints of Newark,” the movie prequel to “The Sopranos,” will be  released in movies theaters and HBO Max at the same time by Warner Bros. The Daily Record

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