New Jersey prisons and jails may have to offer blood testing for hepatitis B and C to all incarcerated, under a proposal scheduled for a hearing Thursday.

The state Department of Corrections has come under fire from some criminal justice and public health advocates who say its policy of targeted screening for the virus falls short.

“Hepatitis is a scourge. There is no denying that. But thanks to breakthroughs in medicine, it is now a curable scourge,” said Dr. Aakash Shah, an emergency room physician and the medical director of the nonprofit New Jersey Reentry Corporation.

Lawmakers in New Jersey voted to ban the sale of flavored vaping products Thursday, as part of a package of bills aimed at reducing e-cigarette use among youth.

The approval was seen as a blow to the vaping industry in New Jersey, which argued against the prohibition and claimed it could have unintended consequences.

“You’ll create a black market where the products will not necessarily be out of the hands of youth,” said Mark Anton, executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association.

Ang Santos / WBGO

Cardiology Associates of Morristown hosted their annual “Our Noble 90’s” event to honor patients that have made it to that age.

Cardiologist Dr. David Freilich says the practice has over 300 patients that are age 90 and above.

“I think it’s a reflection of the fact that people are getting older,” Freilich said.  “People are able to keep going, stay out of nursing homes, have a great life and make the best of it.  That’s what we are here to celebrate.”

Dr. Freilich’s mother was his inspiration to host the ‘Our Noble 90’s’ event.

More Latinx and Asian children in New Jersey are living without health insurance, according to a new report.

Researchers with the progressive think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective believe tougher immigration policies from the Trump administration are instilling fear in immigrant communities in New Jersey, where 85% of foreign-born residents hail from Latin America and Asia.

New Jersey’s public schools could better equip themselves to provide mental health services to students, according to a new report.

An analysis from the New Jersey School Boards Association laid out strategies for districts interested in better serving students with mental health issues.

Frank Belluscio, deputy executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, said one major factor is getting students to trust staff members.

New Jersey has announced an ambitious plan to replace all of its aging lead-lined water pipes in the next ten years.

The state also wants to help residents rid their homes of lead-based paint, which is the leading cause of lead poisoning.

“It’s a problem that’s been handed to us by years — and in some cases, by generations — of inaction. Well, this is our time for action,” said Gov. Phil Murphy during a Thursday press conference.

New Jersey will begin borrowing $100 million to pay for lead remediation projects in schools across the state and require educational facilities to test for lead contamination more often.

The efforts are Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest attempts to deal with growing public concern about lead contamination in homes and schools across the state.

“Lead contamination is not a Newark problem or an urban problem,” Murphy said at a Monday press conference in Bergenfield. “It’s a problem that has been building in communities up and down our state and, indeed, across the country.”

A pair of New Jersey lawmakers are calling on Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to make $100 million available so schools can update their water system infrastructure.

“In my mind, this is an emergency. It can’t continue to delay,” said state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester.

Last year, voters approved a ballot initiative that would allow the state to borrow $500 million for schools, with $100 million meant to be doled out to protect students and faculty from lead contamination in the water.

New Jersey may become the latest state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, as officials look for ways to curb youth vaping and combat the national outbreak of a mysterious illness related to e-cigarette use.

The ban was one of several recommendations made by a task force Gov. Phil Murphy created three weeks ago to investigate e-cigarette use in the state.

“I want New Jersey to not just react to current events but to use these events to craft thoughtful and solid policies that will protect our residents for years to come,” Murphy said at a press conference Thursday.

One of New Jersey’s most recent efforts to combat gun violence is off to a busy start.

Judges have approved requests to use the state’s new “red flag” law more than once a day on average since it took effect on Sept. 1. Under the legislation, law enforcement agencies can confiscate the guns of a person who poses a threat to themselves or others after getting judicial approval.

Such laws are becoming more common across the U.S. as states try out new strategies to prevent future mass shootings and reduce overall gun violence, including suicides.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has put together a 10-member task force charged with making recommendations on how the state can deal with what officials have called the “epidemic” of electronic cigarette use.

The announcement came as the U.S. continues to grapple with a mysterious respiratory illness related to vaping that has sickened at least three people in New Jersey with another 19 cases under investigation by state health officials.

New Jersey lawmakers are weighing a ban on the sale of tobacco products and e-cigarettes in the state’s more than 2,200 pharmacies.

A proposal floated by Democratic legislators would prohibit the sale of cigarettes and vaping products in pharmacies and any retailers that contain pharmacies, including many grocery stores.

“To have medical services and then sell cigarettes is crazy,” said state Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Middlesex, who is chairman of the Senate’s health committee. “I think it’s not in the public interest — certainly not in the public health interest — to do that.”

New Jersey lawmakers want the state’s nearly 300 water utilities to provide more information about water quality and be held accountable for the data they publish.

State legislators conducted a hearing Tuesday amid an ongoing public-health crisis in Newark, where recent tests showed elevated lead levels in the drinking water of two homes.

Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, said it was crucial that the public has access to information about local water quality.

New Jersey is eyeing a crackdown on flavored e-cigarettes, which have been associated with a recent string of pulmonary illnesses across the country and are frequently blamed for ensnaring children and young adults into an addictive habit.

During the WBGO's “Ask Governor Murphy” call-in show Wednesday night, a caller asked Gov. Phil Murphy what he thought about Michigan’s ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

“I like that, I have to say. [My] first reaction is it’s something … we should look at,” Murphy said.

New Jersey service providers who work with drug users say the state has come a long way in implementing “harm reduction” strategies but that more can be done.

Hundreds of public health workers gathered in Trenton on Wednesday for a harm reduction workshop organized by the Department of Health, as the state continues to battle a growing opioid crisis that contributed to a suspected 3,118 drug overdose deaths in 2018.

New Jersey will require certain hospitals to have intervention programs aimed at breaking the cycle of violence for the state’s most at-risk residents, under a package of new laws signed Monday.

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, D-Camden, said research has shown that the victims of violence are more likely to become victims again or even perpetrators in the future, which is why intervention programs are crucial.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed four bills Wednesday aimed at reducing the state’s high rates of maternal and infant mortality, which are among the worst in the nation.

“We can and we will make New Jersey the safest place to give birth in the United States of America,” said first lady Tammy Murphy at the Newark bill signing.

The new laws will block Medicaid from paying for medically unnecessary cesarean section deliveries and increase access to doulas, who help expectant mothers through childbirth.