North Jersey News Roundup for Feb. 25, 2021

A new poll shows while public opinion of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is approving, New Jersey is receiving significantly falling marks for its vaccination plan. Project Ready commissioned a Change Research survey of New Jersey voters that found 59% of respondents  view the state’s vaccine rollout negatively with the greatest divide falling along partisan lines. A total of 58% of Democrats responded that the state has done an “excellent” or “good” job in rolling out the vaccine, compared to just 6% of Republicans and 23% of Independents. By race, 57% of Blacks rate the state positively, compared with 49% of Hispanics and 27% of Whites.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine appears safe and effective, particularly against severe disease, though questions remain about how well it works in older people, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The shot proved especially effective at preventing severe disease and death as there were no coronavirus related hospitalizations in the vaccine group 28 days after inoculation. The FDA’s review paves the way for it to authorize a third vaccine in the U.S. as early as this weekend. The Wall Street Journal

New cases and deaths related to the coronavirus in nursing homes across the U.S. have fallen steeply, outpacing national declines, after COVID-19 vaccines started being administered. From late December 2020 to early February, new cases among nursing home residents fell by more than 80%, nearly double the rate of improvement in the general population, and deaths decreased by more than 65%. The New York Times

Long-term care facilities in seven New Jersey counties can resume in-person socially-distanced visits as infection rates for coronavirus are down, according to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Coronavirus activity has declined from high to “moderate” levels in Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties, allowing for the visits if the facilities can show they have been COVID-free for two weeks, have enough staff, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies as well as provide space for a designated meeting area.

A lawsuit has been filed by the family of a woman who worked at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation died from complications of the coronavirus last year, alleging the home failed to provide proper protective gear. This lawsuit related to the death of Mary Beatriz Guerra is the first involving an Andover employee. New Jersey Herald

In her quest to be a State Senator, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle has decided to take on party leaders. Vainieri Huttle declared she will not participate in the Bergen County Democratic Convention on March 15 due to what she perceives as Bergen County Chairman Paul Juliano pressuring members to back Assemblyman Gordon Johnson for the State Senate seat in the 37th Legislative District being vacated by Loretta Weinberg retiring. “I first announced my intention to run for State Senate in January. Immediately, it became clear that the decks had been stacked in favor of my opponent,” wrote Vainieri Huttle in her letter Feb. 23 to Juliano announcing her decision to forego seeking the Bergen County Democratic line.

Gov. Phil Murphy is staying out of the State Senate primary to fill Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s (D-37) seat. “Two stars vying to replace one of the all-time greats in Loretta Weinberg, and I’m big fans and big believers in both of them, and I’ll leave it at that,” Murphy said Feb. 24 when asked if he was prepared to endorse Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37), an earlier backer of Murphy when he ran for governor in 2017, as the nominee over Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. New Jersey Globe

Gerald Cardinale, the longest-serving Republican state senator in New Jersey history, was remembered during a funeral Mass in Tenafly on Feb. 24 as a principled conservative, devoted husband and father and deeply religious man. Assemblyman Robert Auth (R-39) called Cardinale an unforgettable and irreplaceable figure in New Jersey politics, while State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-21) stated “he demanded the best of others because he demanded the best of himself.” The Record 

State lawmakers are looking to impose educational requirements on remote learning for both prospective and established teachers in New Jersey. The Assembly Education Committee advanced bills mandating training on remote teaching for all candidates for teaching certification starting in the 2022-23 school year and make public school teachers and leaders complete a professional development program on the subject.

North Jersey Republicans gave a thumbs down to Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2022 proposed budget. Members of both the Assembly and State Senate decried the $44.83 billion spending proposal by the governor on Feb. 23 as not addressing issues that affect the quality of life of everyday New Jerseyans. State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) said the budget plan for FY 2022 outlined by Murphy was focused solely on boosting the governor’s reelection campaign and was further proof it was unnecessary for the Murphy Administration to borrow $4.3 billion last November.

The state Assembly Labor Committee advanced a bill to allocate $50 million in federal funds to improve the unemployment system. The bill, which has already passed the State Senate, would require the Labor Department to submit an implementation plan to the Legislature of how it would use the monies to improve the unemployment system’s benefit claims processing capacity.

NJ Transit (NJT) continued to advance its “Innovation Challenge” project for the Meadowlands by submitting a Request for Proposals to increase capacity between the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station at Secaucus Junction and the Meadowlands Complex. NJT officials noted it was looking to post-pandemic demands on the mass transit situation and making investments, plans and design choices for projects with long lead times. It is looking for proposals that could provide end-to-end solutions for peak capacity service, with plans to be submitted accounting for design, build, operations, management options, and funding for each.

Ordinances establishing a Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) and an arts trust fund were withdrawn from the Feb. 24 Jersey City Council meeting agenda. The CCRB ordinance was pulled due to concerns centered on how the 11 members of the CCRB would be selected, while issues surrounding how money will be distributed to artists working with the Jersey City Arts Council and the arts community still needed to be addressed. The Jersey Journal

The Teaneck Town Council has banned the use of facial recognition software by police, the first town in New Jersey to ban the technology outright. Officials made the move due to a growing body of evidence showing the algorithms do a poorer job of identifying women, Black and Asian faces. The Record

And finally…Bruce Springsteen DWI charge was dropped, instead pleading guilty to drinking tequila in federal park in New Jersey.

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