North Jersey News Roundup for April 2, 2021

In an exclusive interview, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle talked why she is a better choice for Democrats to serve in the State Senate for the 37th Legislative District than Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, how she had made a career of taking on the party bosses, continuing the progressive legacy of State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, her accomplishments in her 15 year career in the Assembly and the loyalty of her running mates to stay with her when given the opportunity to jump on the party line.

Three GOP Senators and seven Assembly members endorsed Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) in a three-candidate race where each of the district’s three county Republican organizations have backed a different candidate. The list of those endorsing DeCroce include State Sens. Kristin Corrado (R-40), Steve Oroho (R-24) and Holly Schepisi (R-39), Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21), Assemblywomen Nancy Munoz (R-21) and Aura Dunn (R-25) and Assemblymen Parker Space (R-24), Hal Wirths (R-24), Chris DePhillips (R-40 and Kevin Rooney (R-40). DeCroce is in a race with Assemblyman Jay Webber and former Pompton Lakes councilman Christian Barranco for one of two Assembly seats. New Jersey Globe

The easing of coronavirus restrictions for outdoor gatherings increases to 200 begins today, April 2. Additionally, capacity limits for New Jersey’s sports, concert, and entertainment venues rise to 20% and banquet halls can host indoor celebrations and other private events at 35% of the room’s capacity or a maximum of 150 people for any occasion. News12 New Jersey

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli characterized the trend of coronavirus cases increasing among younger residents as “concerning.” According to NJDOH statistics, there was a 48% increase among individuals 40 to 49; 29% in the age group of 50 to 59; 27% between 60 to 69 years of age; and a 31% of those aged 20 and 29. Conversely, single digit increases were tracked in those aged 30 to 39 (9%), 70 to 79 (7%) and 80 or older (1%). “These sustained increases of hospitalizations and COVID activity demonstrate that we are definitely in another wave of this virus,” said Persichilli.

Hudson County’s vaccine allocation will more than triple next week, with a record 20,850 dose shipment. The USS Juneau Center vaccination site, open to all county residents, will be open for an extra day next week because of the news. The Jersey Journal

Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation has developed a test that can detect multiple variants of the coronavirus virus in under three  hours, a major advance in tracking the virus and in treating patients, according to researchers. CDI officials say the test can detect the known U.K., Brazil, and South African variants, as well as others containing the key E484K mutation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized two changes to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine that can provide extra doses from each vial. The agency approved new vials from Moderna that can contain up to 15 doses each, compared with the original vials designed to hold 10 doses. Additionally, regulators said providers can safely extract up to 11 doses from the original 10-dose vials. Those changes will be added to instructions for health care workers. News12 New Jersey

Paterson dropped its targeted May 3 resumption of in-person classes. “At present, the conditions are simply not favorable enough to reopen. The safety of our students and staff must come first,” said Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer, citing the number of coronavirus cases in Paterson and Passaic County had increased by about 50% during the past month. The Record

New weekly unemployment claims rose by 6,000 filings last week, the largest jump in claims since August 2020, the state Department of Labor announced April 1. Another 16,716 new claims were filed for the week ending March 27, up from the previous week’s 10,441 claims filed. The increase was across all industry sectors, with a larger bump in claims from self-employed residents.

New Jersey is trying to poach movie and television studios from Georgia after the state passed a voting law that has drawn criticism from business leaders and some major corporations. Gov. Phil Murphy sent a letter April 1 to major studios including Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and Netflix Inc., offering them tax credits on up to 30% of production costs—equal to what Georgia currently offers—as well as a 40% subsidy for bricks-and-mortar studio development. The Wall Street Journal

With the pandemic already lasting a year, many of New Jersey’s GOP lawmakers are working to limit the power of Gov. Phil Murphy by curtailing his use of executive orders. Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25) and State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-24) recently introduced a measure that would put a 14-day cap on any rule issued by Murphy unless it receives legislative approval. The legislation would affect orders issued under the Civil Defense and Disaster Control Act—a power Republicans believe Murphy has abused by extending the original state of emergency 13 times and public health emergency orders issued since March 9, 2020.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed into a law that provides $25 million of in for New Jersey’s microbusinesses. The state’s Economic Development Authority would be charged with allocating and determining the size of individual grants. Funding will come from the state’s federal stimulus aid.

Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-25) believes it time to move on from the “soft-shoe” approach to honor New Jersey veterans. Bergen, an Apache fighter pilot during Operation Iraqi Freedom, scoured the nation searching for best practices and working legislation that could help veterans. The nine-bill package was released earlier in March, and he expects it would bring New Jersey to the top of the list in regards to taking care of veterans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for repealing the Republican tax law’s $10,000 cap on deducting state and local taxes (SALT) as part of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure legislation. “It was a political action on the part of Republicans,” Pelosi (D-CA) said at her weekly press conference. “It was mean-spirited to begin with, politically targeted. Hopefully we can get this into the bill.”

The Englewood Police Department will be under the control of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office after the retirement of Chief Lawrence Suffern. A senior member of the Prosecutor’s Office will be named officer in charge to run the day-to-day operations and will assign additional personnel as necessary to ensure public safety and the continuation of all police services. The Record

And finally…Sesame Street residents Cookie Monster and Gonger recently made a trip to Fiore’s Deli in Hoboken.

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