North Jersey News Roundup for April 5, 2021

OPINION: A Battle of Variants Vs. Vaccinations in New Jersey New Jersey Department of Health’s Commissioner Judith Persichilli summed the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic best last week when she stated “All of the country’s in a race to vaccinate as variants are contributing to the surges.” Two things can be true at the same time during a pandemic: Significant progress is being made while the virus is spreading for a third time. The actions we have all taken over the last 13 months have reduced cases before a vaccine was available and need to be continued for the foreseeable future. But it is a future where we can gather like we used to that is much closer than before.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said fully vaccinated Americans can resume domestic and overseas travel as long as they wear masks in public. The individuals do not need to get a coronavirus test before or after domestic travel and do not need to self-quarantine on return, as long as they follow public health protocols. PoliticoNJ

More New Jerseyans become eligible to try and book an appointment to get a vaccine for the coronavirus today. Those newly eligible include people ages 55-64; people ages 16 and up with intellectual and developmental disabilities; educators in higher education settings; communications infrastructure support; members of the press; real estate, building, and home service workers; retail financial institution workers; sanitation workers; laundry service workers; utility workers including, electrical generation; and librarians. News12 New Jersey

Johnson & Johnson is taking over manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine at a contract manufacturer’s plant that makes the main ingredient after a production problem ruined a batch. In order to give J&J full control, production of AstraZeneca’s vaccine at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. plant in Baltimore will move elsewhere. Under the changes, J&J is assuming full responsibility for operations and manufacturing of its vaccine’s key ingredient at the Emergent plant, including installing a new leadership team and boosting the number of technical, quality and other workers. The Wall Street Journal

Federal prosecutors charged a Paramus resident with wire fraud and money laundering after fraudulently receiving $150,000 in coronavirus loans to help an already-shuttered restaurant get through the pandemic. George Leguen applied to the Small Business Administration in August 2020 for a loan to support his Manhattan eatery, One Fifty One Restaurant & Lounge, falsely claiming his restaurant made $1.38 million the year before the pandemic, suffered $70,000 in rental losses because of the coronavirus and had a dozen employees as of Jan. 31, 2020. The Record

Half the voters of both parties and independents thought the amount of relief in the American Rescue Plan provided was not enough, with just 29% saying the $1,400 was enough and 12% believed too much was provided, according to the Stockton University poll. However, this agreement did not extend entirely to where such aid should be directed, with Republicans looking to redirect some foreign aid to Americans while Democrats wanted extended unemployment benefits. Gov. Phil Murphy boasted a 58% approval rating among New Jersey residents, the highest rating the governor had received during three years of polling for the questions.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has released new guidelines for law enforcement agencies to help restore tenants to their homes. Under the directive, law enforcement officers must determine if an illegal eviction is occurring, issue warnings to the landlord or property owners and ensure that the illegally evicted tenants are immediately restored to the premises. If the warnings are ignored, the officers should charge the landlord or property owner with a complaint-summons, which could be a fourth-degree crime.

Gov. Phil Murphy led seven Democratic governors and urged President Joe Biden to support efforts to fully restore the federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). “The negative impacts of the SALT cap on middle class families are particularly egregious when you consider that in the states most affected by this cap, the federal government already takes more in federal taxes than the states receive in federal support, effectively subsidizing federal payments to other states,” the governors of New York, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois and Oregon along with Murphy wrote.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. celebrated the Biden Administration’s decision to approve the offshore wind project 15 miles off the coast of New Jersey. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Notice of Intent (NOI) was a critical step in the federal review of the project, according to the two lawmakers, as it triggers an environmental approval process for the projects. This will satisfy requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act. Additionally, an Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared for the Construction and Operations Plan submitted by developer Ocean Wind. The process is expected to take 22 months to complete.

Bayonne’s business administrator alleges she suffered gender-based harassment and observed misconduct in her two years working for the city in a lawsuit against the city, mayor and other high-level officials. Melissa Mathews, the city’s first female business administrator, alleges that the city’s director of municipal services screamed at her, questioned her abilities, attempted to intimidate her on separate occasions last year and described a culture in which complaints about harassment to superiors went ignored or were turned on her. The Jersey Journal

More than a million donated diapers will be supplied to Bergen County families over the next four months after being purchased in bulk by the county for $200,000 from federal CARES Act funding. Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the Bergen County Food Security Task Force will deliver the diapers to affiliated nonprofits to be given to clients. The Record

And finally…Some Garden State restaurants are implementing a 90-minute table limit in an attempt to turn more tables, increase revenue. News12 New Jersey

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