North Jersey News Roundup for April 1, 2021

New Jersey state officials presented two coronavirus case models to prepare New Jerseyans for the pandemic that could last through the Summer. In the moderate case model developed by the New Jersey Department of Health, there would be a daily high of 5,445 new cases on April 18. The same day hospitalizations would hit their high of 2,669, with 574 patients in intensive care and 319 on ventilators. The model forecasts new cases not dropping below 3,000 daily until mid-June. In the high case model, the state would hit a new case high of more than 8,162 daily cases and 3,644 hospitalizations on May 18 and again in mid-June. Hospitalizations would settle into a range of 3,500 from mid-May into mid-June. There would be a peak of 2,030 patients in intensive care, with 778 on ventilators on May 20. Hospitalizations would not fall below 3,000 until July 13.

Younger people in New Jersey are increasingly being hospitalized at higher rates for the coronavirus. Mirroring a national trend, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli revealed a 31% increase among hospitalizations in individuals between the ages of 20 and 29, a 9% increase among people between 30 and 39 and 48% increase among people between 40 to 49.

A Baltimore manufacturing plant accidentally conflated the ingredients of two COVID-19 vaccines, contaminating up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and forcing regulators to delay authorization of the plant’s production lines. The mix-up has delayed future shipments of Johnson & Johnson doses in the United States while the Food and Drug Administration investigates what occurred. The error does not affect any Johnson & Johnson doses that are currently being delivered and used nationwide, including the shipments that states are counting on next week. The New York Times

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was 91.3% effective against COVID-19, measured seven days through up to six months after the second dose, according to the company. Additionally, the study found the vaccine was 100% effective against severe disease as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 95.3% effective against severe COVID-19 as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Wall Street Journal

New Jersey unveiled a new online tool to help residents find a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. The new website aggregates information from across multiple scheduling platforms, multiple times an hour, letting people know when appointments are open, and helping people make one themselves. News12 New Jersey

A letter from Pope John XXIII Regional High School scolded “irresponsible parents” for their children’s risky behavior during the coronavirus pandemic, including suggesting their grades may suffer if it continues. The letter comes as the school located in Sparta went to all-remote instruction after previously doing so for a week in January and 10 days at the beginning of March. The school recently asked parents to sign a memo acknowledging it was under no obligation to extend remote learning to students forced to quarantine from travel following spring break. New Jersey Herald

NJ Transit’s December rider survey found a slim majority of those surveyed are ready to return to the workplace. Of those surveyed, 27% to 36% said they’re ready to return to the workplace “now” and 18% to 26% of riders said they’d be ready to go back between May to August. A final 16% to 21% said they weren’t comfortable going back. Of all the New York bus riders who responded to the survey, 56% said they had taken the bus at least once a week in December as compared to 34% of rail commuters. Seventy eight percent of bus riders in North Jersey reported taking the bus at least once a week during that time span.

Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Albio Sires are continuing their push to hit the gas on the long-delayed Gateway tunnel project after supportive testimony from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “I’m thrilled after four years of obstruction from the last administration, Secretary Buttigieg and the Biden administration are committed to working to complete the nation’s most important infrastructure project,” said Sherrill. Sires stated “I’m concerned that if we don’t address this issue, it’s going to be catastrophic. This corridor serves a region that is home to 17% of the U.S. population and 97 Fortune 500 company headquarters (and) contributes 20% of the national GDP.”

A Stockton University Poll found nearly 6 in 10 New Jerseyans approve of the job Gov. Phil Murphy is doing. In the first state poll on his job performance released this year, Murphy’s approval rating stood at 58% with 36% disapproving—the highest rating ever in the Stockton poll for Murphy.

Rep. Tom Malinowski is a lead sponsor of a federal bill looking to hold social media companies accountable for content promoting hate online. Malinowski, along with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), recently reintroduced the Protecting Americans from Dangerous Algorithms Act that is designed to hold social media platforms with more than 10 million used accountable for their algorithmic amplification of harmful, radicalizing content that leads to offline violence. “Social media companies have been playing whack-a-mole trying to take down QAnon conspiracies and other extremist content, but they aren’t changing the design of a social network that is built to amplify extremism,” said Malinowski. 

Upper Saddle River Councilwoman DeAnne DeFuccio won a special election GOP convention for Assembly in the 39th district. DeFuccio defeated Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti by seven votes, 88-81 to fill the seat vacated by now State Sen. Holly Schepisi. DeFuccio will run on the county line with Assemblyman Robert Auth in the June primary. Azzariti indicated he will challenge the two GOP nominees in the primary, running with former Saddle River GOP Municipal Chairman Jon Kurpis. New Jersey Globe

Five candidates will go back on the ballot for Lyndhurst’s May municipal elections, a judge in Bergen County ruled March 31. The court found that Lyndhurst clerk Angela White had based her rejection of the petitions for the Clean Sweep 07071 candidates on her subjective opinion and did not contact those who had questionable signatures. The Record

Dierdre Paul is mounting an off line bid for the Republican State Senate nomination in the 37th Legislative District. Paul, who has accused Assemblyman Gordon Johnson of making sexually inappropriate comments, will challenging the party’s pick for Senate, Michael Koontz. New Jersey Globe

Gov. Phil Murphy said he remains optimistic on the American Dream megamall despite creditors calling in their collateral on the company that owns the mall. Murphy stated he is a believer in the idea of experiential retail in a non-COVID world. “It’s an extraordinary concept that I think, in a normal time, is still a winner,” he said. “I still think there’s a place for something that is as experiential as this thing is to go to.”

The operators of Morristown’s Tashmoo Bar and Restaurant are suing the township for inconsistencies in decisions and delays in getting public records. Restaurant owners DeHart Associates and WCGP claim in a lawsuit filed in Morris County Superior Court that Morristown’s formula to determine its maximum occupancy load for their bar expansion “is unreasonable.” Additionally, the bar owners allege the town’s clerk failed to honor requests for certificates of occupancy and other documents. The Daily Record

And finally….its Opening Day in major league baseball as the Yankees host the Toronto Blue Jays and the Mets travel to Washington to face off with the Nationals. 

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