North Jersey News Roundup for March 16, 2021

New Jersey passed the one million mark of residents being fully vaccinated against the coronavirus on March 15—four months to the day the first jab was administered in the state. In its morning update, the state dashboard showed the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 3,007,152 since the first doses were delivered Dec. 15, 2020. Of those who have received the vaccine, 2,003,563 residents have received their first dose with 1,003,444 their second. “In just two weeks, we’ve delivered another 1,000,000 shots into arms. We’re vaccinating New Jerseyans as quickly and equitably as possible,” stated Gov. Phil Murphy on social media.

First Lady Jill Biden declared in New Jersey the nation is “beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel” after a year of battling the coronavirus pandemic. The First Lady toured an elementary school in Burlington on March 15 to learn about the COVID-19 mitigation plans used in the school and to promote the $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus law President Jo Biden signed into law last week. “What I want you to know is this,” Biden said. “We are going to get people back to work, we are going to lift up the families who are struggling to get by and we’re going to be stronger than ever. That is what the American Rescue Plan is all about, help today so that we can build back better tomorrow.”

The Valley Hospital is offering a week of COVID-19 vaccine distribution specifically for school staff. About 900 educators received the shot on March 15 with 4,800 additional doses expected to be administered by the end of the week. The Record

A coronavirus outbreak in Sparta involving students and a member of the district’s custodial staff delayed plans to return to full-day, in-person instruction at Sparta Middle School and Sparta High School. The district’s three elementary schools—Alpine, Mohawk Avenue, and Helen Morgan—held full-day in-person classes rather than half-day sessions on March 15. The Daily Record

Moderna has begun studying its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged six months to 11 years in the U.S. and Canada, the latest effort to widen the mass-vaccination campaign beyond adults. The new study, which is a combined Phase 2 and 3 trial, will aim to enroll about 6,750 children and will be conducted in two parts. The Wall Street Journal

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Englewood resident Rachel Wainer Apter as his nominee to fill a vacancy on the New Jersey Supreme Court. Wainer Apter would take the seat of Associate Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who will retire at the end of the current court term Aug. 31. In making his announcement, the governor keyed on Wainer Apter’s career as a law clerk for Justice Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court and following in her former bosses footsteps as a civil rights lawyer.

GOP State Senators said they would wait until they met with Rachel Wainer Apter before deciding on her nomination for New Jersey Supreme Court. Senate Minority Whip Joe Pennacchio (R-26), expressed “concerns about a young person piling on to the activist judges that are already there.” State Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25) said that he wants to learn more about Wainer Apter before he decides how he’ll vote on confirmation, stating “I’m not going to make any comment on the court pick until I’ve had the opportunity to review her. I won’t decide until I’ve listened to her testimony and heard from colleagues on the Judiciary Committee.” New Jersey Globe

Two men have been charged with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray, as federal authorities inch closer to identifying what may have caused the officer’s death following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a violent mob supportive of former President Donald Trump. The FBI identified Julian Khater as a man seen on video discharging canisters of the chemical irritant at New Jersey native Sicknick and other officers, according to an affidavit filed in federal court. Khater allegedly retrieved the spray from a pack carried by George Tanios, the court filing says.

Trenton lawmakers will advance a parental notification bill for underage marijuana and alcohol users to the first offense barring police from taking underage users into custody unless it’s needed to gather information for a written warning or parental notification. The bill bans police from taking those under the age of 21 to a police station or other police facility, though they may be confined to a squad car or at the scene if an underage user refuses to give information needed for a written warning or parental notification. New Jersey Globe

Members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation backed a pair of gun control bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The first measure, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021, would require background checks on nearly all firearms purchases, including transactions involving private or unlicensed sellers, while the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 seeks to close the “Charleston loophole” that allows a firearm sale to proceed if a background check is not completed within three days, by expanding the review period to 10 days.

Sen. Bob Menendez has moved his North Jersey office to Jersey City’s waterfront from Newark. The new office is located at Harborside 3 on Hudson Street, at Exchange Place. His office was previously housed in the Gateway Center in Newark. The Jersey Journal

Bergen County Democrats picked former Tenafly Councilwoman Shama Haider and former Englewood Cliffs Councilwoman Ellen Park to run for State Assembly in the 37th district. Haider and Park, replacing Teaneck Democratic Municipal Chair Alexandra Soriano-Taveras and Palisades Park Mayor Christopher Chung who withdrew from the race last week, will run on the county line with Gov. Phil Murphy and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37), who is seeking an open State Senate seat. PoliticoNJ

An Ocean County forest fire that burned over 170 acres, destroyed buildings, damaged homes and left a firefighter critically injured was 100% contained. Cold temperatures overnight helped firefighters battle and suppress the inferno, which will continue to smolder in areas east of the Garden State Parkway, south of Cedar Bridge Avenue and north of Route 70, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service said in its latest update.

And finally…First Lady Jill Biden once lived in Mahwah. The Record

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