North Jersey News Roundup for Dec. 9, 2020

New Jersey officials in the last 10 days have offered insights on how and when the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed throughout the Garden State. Gov. Phil Murphy estimates the state could have up to 500,000 vials of the vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the calendar year. The allocation in the first wave will be split between healthcare workers and long-term care facilities.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine showed “a favorable safety profile, with no specific safety concerns.” Patients’ immune response to the vaccine kicks in quickly after the first dose with roughly 88% efficacy against severe COVID-19 in the week afterwards, according to data supplied by Pfizer to the FDA. The second of two doses bumps efficacy to more than 95% and gives what is expected to be longer lasting immunity. The agency released its analysis of the vaccine ahead of a meeting of its independent vaccine advisory committee, with FDA expected to authorize the vaccine for emergency use at any time after the meeting. PoliticoNJ

President-elect Joe Biden is setting a goal to get at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots into the arms of the American people during his first 100 days in office to change the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, he would make it a “national priority” to get children back to school during that time. The New York Times

U.K. regulators had two reports of possible allergic reactions from people who took part in the first day of their COVID-19 vaccination program. Health officials say people who have a “significant history’’ of allergic reactions shouldn’t receive the new Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. News12 New Jersey

Residents of New Jersey are not cooperating with COVID-19 contact tracers at a rate that Gov. Phil Murphy described as “shocking. The rate of noncooperation with our contact tracers is now up to a whopping 74% of cases,” said Murphy at a press briefing Dec. 7. “Quite frankly, this is unacceptable and we need folks to turn that around. Remember, our contact tracers are not on a witch hunt. They are only concerned with stopping the spread of this virus.”

Eight Hackensack firefighters tested positive for COVID-19 amid the second wave of the virus. Two have severe symptoms, while the other six have moderate symptoms or are asymptomatic. Fire officials identified 22 additional members who may have been exposed to the virus and quarantined all to their homes, resulting in 25% of the department’s workforce unable to work. The Record

Widespread vaccinations for the coronavirus across New Jersey within five months would likely lead to a “bounce” in the state’s economy, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. However, the governor conceded a return to normal after unprecedented unemployment and strain on businesses from tight restrictions could take years.

Gov. Phil Murphy believes the concerns of New Jersey will be a focal point after a recent conversation with President-elect Joe Biden. “The needs of New Jersey are being put front and center for the incoming Administration,” said Murphy at a press briefing Dec. 7. According to Murphy, the conversation held this past weekend focused on three topics: a coronavirus pandemic response, the need for federal stimulus, and infrastructure investment.

The Trump administration made a $916 billion coronavirus relief offer to Democrats on Dec. 8. The White House is pushing Republicans to include a new round of direct payments of $600 per person in the emerging package but does not include the $300 per week in unemployment insurance that a bipartisan group had coalesced around. The proposal came after Democrats rejected an effort by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to narrow the scope of a coronavirus relief bill by excluding aid for hard-hit state and local governments prioritized by Democrats and liability protections sought by Republicans. The Wall Street Journal

Rep. Josh Gottheimer pushed back on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s position that an end-of-the-year COVID rescue package should not include state and local relief aid and liability protections for businesses. “Now is not the time to walk away from the key pillars of our bipartisan, bicameral COVID-19 emergency relief agreement,” said Gottheimer in a press statement. “It’s time to double down on finding a solution to the remaining obstacles. We are simply too close.” New Jersey Globe

President-elect Joe Biden made two new cabinet selections. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge  (D-OH) will be nominated to serve as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, while Tom Vilsack will be offered to lead the Department of Agriculture, returning to a post he held for all eight years of the Obama administration. The New York Times

The U.S. Supreme Court refused a request from Pennsylvania Republicans to overturn the state’s election results. The justices said they would not block a ruling from Pennsylvania’s highest court that had rejected a challenge to the use of mail ballots in the state. The Supreme Court’s order was all of one sentence, and there were no noted dissents. The Wall Street Journal

A recount in Rochelle Park validated the election of Democrat Michael Warren to the township committee by 10 votes over Republican Perrin Mosca. The recount left the results the same with incumbent Democrat Linda Boniface receiving 1,544 votes, followed by Warren at 1,543.  Mosca received 1,539 votes, and his GOP running mate, Delmer Thomas Grigsby, Jr., got 1,499 votes. New Jersey Globe

Newark’s art deco-era Penn Station will receive a $160 million upgrade. Work is scheduled to begin immediately with an initial $30 million in renovations and restorations, with additional upgrades scheduled over the next five years. The work includes amenities for commuters and Amtrak passengers, refurbished restrooms, heating and ventilation systems, escalators and conversion of freight elevators for passenger use and work on station platforms. New Jersey Herald

The state’s Senate Transportation Committee voted Dec. 8 in favor of a bill to further reform NJ Transit. State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-37) sponsored the bill making the new customer advocate position more independent, expand the powers of the board and its audit committee, require more public participation and change the board’s leadership structure so the chair would be elected instead of not automatically being the state transportation commissioner. The Record

Fair Share Housing Center filed a suit against Jersey City, alleging an ordinance passed in October creating a new affordable housing law did not follow proper procedure. The ordinance requires developers of certain projects to designate 20% of their units as affordable housing. The new lawsuit argues that the ordinance’s passage was procedurally unsound, and its loopholes amount to illegal quid pro quo agreements. The Jersey Journal

Paramus offered 10 police officers conditional offers of employment, including the mayor’s son, after a deadlock of almost a year. The police hires were approved with a 4-3 vote, with Republicans voting against the hires as they’ve done at past meetings. Mayor Richard LaBarbiera, who had abstained from voting in the past, cast the tie-breaking vote after a judge ruled he did not have to abstain from voting. The Record

And finally…A new video spotted a humpback whale in the Hudson River.

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