Gov. Phil Murphy is hopeful an agreement can be worked out with New Jersey’s tri-state neighbors when it comes to receiving federal aid for mass transit.
But the governor stood firm that it will be on the Garden State’s terms and New York’s.
Murphy said there “is no news” to report on the negotiations over the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funds allocated in December 2020 as well as the American Rescue Plan Act in March
At dispute is New York looking to change the federal formula that would take money away from New Jersey and Connecticut, diverting from how 47 other states used to divide COVID-19 funds as mass transit systems ridership struggles to get back to pre-pandemic levels. New York is looking for $637 million more in federal COVID-19 transit aid as it wants to block its neighbors from accessing all their funds.
NJ Transit officials have stated they have used up all of the two types of federal transit coronavirus aid it’s received and need the aid to keep trains and buses available at full strength.
“We’re going to make sure we get our fair share as we always do, whether it’s for our commuters or for the state’s budget and the resources that are rightfully due to us,” Murphy said during a press briefing Nov. 1.
According to the current federal standard, New Jersey would receive $3.6 billion in aid so that NJ Transit can maintain current levels of train and bus service. At issue is New York officials arguing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should receive an additional $637 million more in CRRSSA Act funds under a proposal New York officials came up with, based on its hardship calculations and a formula based on pre-pandemic operating expenses.
New York Reject Fed Formula
If the U.S. Department of Transportation sides with New York, the money would be diverted from New Jersey and Connecticut. The federal formula is based on population and has been used to distribute other federal transit funding, allocated to urban regions on the basis of population. The states already missed a September deadline to submit grant applications for federal officials to review to allow the funds to flow.
In August, Murphy formally asked U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to step in to reach a settlement with all parties. New Jersey and Connecticut officials already agreed to use the federal formula to allocate the funds. But Buttigieg does not have the authority to force New York to accept that distribution of funds.
Murphy did not answer if he would invoke the “nuclear option” of vetoing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s meeting minutes, which would stop any business the Authority’s board approved that month. Murphy has reportedly raised using this tactic with another transit dispute —New York City’s proposed congestion pricing plan. That plan would charge a toll for drivers coming into Manhattan south of 60th Street and fund capital projects for the cash-strapped MTA subway and bus system. North Jersey politicians have objected to this plan due to carve outs for New York residents and no plans to share the monies raised with the Garden State.
The governor noted he is scheduled to meet New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in a couple of weeks and is “optimistic we can get to a good result (but) we are going to stand our ground on getting what’s fair.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 12,540,172 in-state, plus an additional 479,067 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 13,019,239 as of Nov. 2. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,866,172 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 205,644 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 6,071,816.
State officials reported boosters and third shots of 401,112 for Pfizer and 187,273 for Moderna. A total of 5,487 New Jerseyans have received their Johnson & Johnson booster shot. Overall, 593,872.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,395,827 doses (649,209 fully vaccinated), Essex 1,084,205 doses (509,008), Hudson 966,224 doses (458,711), Morris 758,628 doses (350,148), Passaic 669,682 doses (316,522), Sussex 178,627 doses (84,694), and Warren 117,005 doses (55,045).
As of Nov. 2, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 1,043,940 with 1,001 total new PCR cases. There were 324 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 157,013. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,200,953.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 24 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 25,188. The state listed probable deaths at 2,816, bringing the overall total to 28,004. State officials noted 11 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Nov. 2, Bergen had a total of 79 new confirmed cases and 19 new probable cases, Essex 87 new cases and 13 new probable case, Hudson 56 new cases and nine new probable cases, Morris 73 new confirmed cases and 21 new probable cases, Passaic 47 new cases and eight new probable cases, Sussex 36 new cases and 13 new probable cases, and Warren 20 new cases and two new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,845, followed by Bergen at 2,689, Hudson with 2,167, Passaic at 1,809, Morris at 1,039, Sussex at 265, and Warren County at 229.
In regards to probable deaths reported Nov. 1, Essex has 310, Bergen has 309, Morris has 266, Hudson has 223, Passaic has 207, Sussex has 71 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,730,278 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Oct. 18, 42,358 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 911 COVID-related hospitalizations and 249 COVID-related deaths. All those are less than 1% in each category.
In the week of Oct. 11-17, breakthroughs accounted for 19.2% of all new cases (2,199 of 11,450, 3.3% of new hospilizations (24 of 725), and two of the 123 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Nov. 2, it increased to 0.99 from 0.96 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested Oct. 28 was 3.6%; by region, the rate was 3.0% in the North, 4.0% in the Central region and 4.5% in the South.
The state reported 700 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 242 in the North, 201 in the Central and 257 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 170 are in intensive care units and 92 on ventilators. A total of 63 patients were discharged in the last 24 hour reporting period.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions as of Oct. 27, the state has tracked 137 school outbreaks and 715 cases linked to those outbreaks since the 2021/2022 school year starting Aug. 7, up 11 outbreaks and 57 cases from the week previous. According to state officials, the cases account for 613 students and 102 teachers across 19 counties.
Outbreaks are defined as three or more laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing.
For North Jersey as of Oct. 27, Passaic County has six confirmed outbreak with 87 cases, Bergen County has 11 confirmed outbreak with 53 cases, Sussex has 12 confirmed outbreak with 49 cases, Morris County has six confirmed outbreaks with 27 cases, Essex County has five confirmed outbreak with 20 cases and Hudson County has six confirmed outbreaks with 22 cases. No outbreaks were reported in Warren County.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 142 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,327 of the cases, broken down between 705 residents and 622 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,795 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 34,018 residents and 23,274 staff, for a total of 57,282.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,639 on Nov. 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 8,006 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.