North Jersey News Roundup for Dec. 31, 2020

The pause on indoor sports due to the coronavirus pandemic was lifted and the new year will see youth and high school sports resume in North Jersey, but with restrictions in place that will leave games and practices only being attended by players, coaches and officials. “We recognize that any continuance of the pause would likely mean that many sports seasons would have to be scrapped entirely,” Gov. Phil Murphy said during a press briefing Dec. 30. “We do not wish to see that happen. We know that sports are important for both the physical and mental wellness of our youth and our other residents.”

New Jersey prisoners and correctional officers will be part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations as they are considered a vulnerable population. Healthcare workers remain the highest priority, followed by the residents and workers in nursing homes and other long-term health facilities. Prisons would be next in line, along with group homes, federal housing for seniors, the state’s five developmental centers and other facilities.

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Carole Johnson, New Jersey Department of Human Services commissioner, to run the COVID-19 testing program when he takes office next month. In her new role as COVID-19 testing coordinator, Johnson will coordinate the federal effort to expand COVID-19 testing and the use of testing for an effective public health response, with an emphasis on expanding and targeting testing for schools, nursing homes, other at-risk populations, and communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

A contagious variant of the coronavirus spreading through Britain has appeared in Colorado and California. The case is California is located in San Diego County, while officials in Colorado confirmed one patient and identified a second suspected case, both men in the National Guard assigned to a nursing home in Simla. Scientists do not know how widely the new mutant may have spread in the U.S. as none of the patients had traveled outside the U.S. The New York Times

Three Passaic County bars were among a dozen facing charges for violating COVID-19 executive orders. The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control announced on Dec. 30 it is seeking to suspend the liquor licenses of 12 bars and restaurants for violating executive orders related to the coronavirus pandemic, including Sarina’s Bar in Clifton as well as Bar El Anochecer and Sports Bar Inn in Passaic. The Record

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation extending the time period during which seasonal retail consumption license holders may sell alcoholic beverages during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters of the bill said the extension by over a year will make up for the months that restaurants may have lost this year and  help restaurants and other businesses with summer liquor licenses. News12 New Jersey

At least 83 students or staff members caught COVID-19 at one Essex County school in what appears to be the largest outbreak reported in a single New Jersey school building. State health officials did not release the name of the school, the municipality, if the outbreak was in a public or private school or any other information about the outbreak, citing the need to protect the privacy of students or teachers who tested positive.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew is joining Republican efforts to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, which a joint session of Congress is expected to finalize on Jan. 6, 2021. Van Drew said his vote against the Electoral College results will be based on electors in other states besides New Jersey that did not hold their constitutionally required meeting.

Moynihan Train Hall, an annex to New York’s Penn Station, will open to the public on New Year’s Day. The $1.6 billion hall, in the old James A. Farley Post Office Building across Eighth Avenue from the main station and Madison Square Garden, will serve as a waiting room for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers. While Amtrak and LIRR passengers will be able to board at Moynihan, NJ Transit passengers will continue to use the old concourses as will subway riders. PoliticoNJ

As the country prepares for President-elect Joe Biden to take office, state politicians want to keep New Jersey’s transportation needs top-of-mind. This includes the approval of a recently-announced Cabinet appointment, and the need to prioritize state infrastructure projects. The nomination of Mayor Pete Buttigieg as U.S. Secretary of Transportation received praise from federal, state and local leaders across the Garden State, many expressing Buttigieg’s mayoral experience will be an asset to the office.

A New Jersey law dissuading judges from suspending driver’s licenses over parking ticket fines and other non-moving violations will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. It is currently mandatory for judges in the Garden State to issue license suspensions for misdemeanor offenses or failing to pay fines. Additionally, the law repeals mandatory license suspensions for convictions related to the sale of illegal drugs and for people who have not paid child support. The Daily Record

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka named Captain Lee Douglas as the Acting Police Chief effective Jan. 1, 2021. Acting Chief Douglas, who joined the Newark Police Division in July 1996, replaces former Newark Police Chief Darnell Henry, who retired on September 30, 2020. Insider NJ

Cost reductions triggered by coronaviruses impact on school operations could net West Milford’s central campus a second artificial turf field. District officials are considering capital expenditures—ranging from a new phone system and security cameras in the high school to a new turf field—in the 2021-22 budget cycle, when the school district is expected to have a surplus in excess of the 2% it is permitted to hold. The Record

And finally…The New York Football Giants can make the playoffs this weekend with a win over Dallas and Philadelphia beating the Washington Football Team. The Record

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.