New Jersey

New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission approved on Friday regulations for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, bringing a policy change that has been years in the making one step closer to reality.

The move means that immigrants who aren’t legally present in the United States may be able to apply for driver’s licenses as early as May, but the commission still has to grant final approval for part of the regulations and train staff on the new system.

New Jersey will dramatically increase the number of residents who can get the coronavirus vaccine this week, expanding the eligibility beyond a few high-risk professions to a much broader swath of the population.

Starting Thursday, residents aged 65 and older, as well as residents aged 16 to 64 with chronic medical conditions, will be eligible for a vaccine.

“We know that individuals in these categories are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 illness and death,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

Gov. Phil Murphy used his annual State of the State speech Monday to again slam the rioters who attacked the U.S Capitol last week and blame President Donald Trump — though not by name — for egging them on.

“We were all shocked to witness a mob, incited and supported by politicians at the highest levels of government, shamefully try to invalidate the votes of 158 million Americans through insurrection,” Murphy said.

Although the mood was celebratory as officials spoke outside New Jersey’s second vaccination mega-site Monday, they also hammered the federal government for sending just a fraction of the supply they could use to inoculate Garden State residents.

“We’re ready. You can see that if you go inside,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney in front of the makeshift facility inside Rowan College of South Jersey in Sewell. “The state of New Jersey is ready to inoculate its residents.”

New Jersey officials toured one of the state’s first two coronavirus vaccination “megasites” Friday, the latest steps in its effort to inoculate residents against COVID-19.

The Morris County site, inside a former Sears store, will begin by giving shots to about 1,000 people per day, but it is capable of vaccinating up to 2,400 people daily depending on the supply from the federal government, officials said.

New Jersey will usher in a new era of corporate tax breaks under a $14 billion program Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Thursday.

Murphy and state legislative Democrats announced their agreement on the plan and the language of the bill in December and swiftly enacted it, over the objections of progressive activists who said the effort was rushed and the law was overly generous.

New Jersey will send 500 National Guard troops to Washington, D.C., this weekend to aid law enforcement there and ensure a “peaceful transition” of presidential power, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday.

It came hours after rioters supporting President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building, sending lawmakers into hiding and prompting violent clashes with law enforcement. A woman was fatally shot by police. Three others died in medical emergencies.

It’s now just one for the history books.

The term “freeholder” was outlawed Friday as a name for county-level officials in New Jersey in favor of the more common title “county commissioner,” under a state law that took effect Jan 1.

New Jersey was the last state in the nation to use the term, which dates back to a time before the Revolutionary War when only white male landowners who were free of debt could hold public office.

New Jersey received nearly 1,200 allegations of workplace safety violations in the weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order in November imposing new coronavirus rules on public and private employers.

The order mandates that all businesses, nonprofits, educational entities, and governments adhere to certain safety protocols related to COVID-19, such as mandating face coverings, physical distancing, and sanitization protocols.

New Jersey reported another 4,919 cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the state’s cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 445,138 known infections.

Another 103 residents died from complications of COVID-19. New Jersey has now seen 16,521 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,945 probable deaths attributed to the outbreak.

‘Don’t screw up Christmas,’ Murphy says

The Garden State announced it will update its use-of-force policy for law enforcement officers with the aim of reducing violent interactions with civilians.

The statewide policy — which was last updated two decades ago — will emphasize de-escalation techniques and prohibit officers from using force except as a last resort.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said it was the first overhaul of its kind in the country.

coronavirus
CDC

New Jersey officials reported Monday an additional 3,186 COVID-19 cases. The total number of cases since Mar. 4 now stands at 435,763. The state also reported 29 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 16,315. Officials are looking into 1,908 probable deaths.

 

As of Sunday night, 3,607 people are in hospitals for confirmed or suspected cases of the coronavirus; 727 patients are in intensive care, while another 481 are currently on ventilators.

 

New Jersey’s public transit agency announced Friday that it had completed the installation of a federally mandated automatic braking system that helps prevent crashes and derailments.

NJ Transit has met a federal end-of-year deadline to install the “positive train control system,” according to a certification by the Federal Railroad Administration.

After years of false starts, the New Jersey Legislature on Thursday passed a bill to set up the state’s budding recreational marijuana market.

The votes in both the state Senate and Assembly came less than two months after voters approved a state constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for personal use on the November ballot by a two-to-one margin.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, who sponsored the bill, said nothing he has done as a legislator will have a greater impact on residents.

New Jersey reported another 4,805 cases of coronavirus Monday, for a cumulative total of 405,448 known cases since the start of the outbreak.

Another 25 residents died from complications of COVID-19. There have now been 15,907 lab-confirmed deaths and another 1,868 probable deaths.

There was a 10.95% positivity rate for tests taken on Dec. 10.

Health care workers to receive first doses of vaccine

The head of New Jersey’s Republican Party is jumping into next year’s race for governor.

NJ GOP chairman Doug Steinhardt will resign from his post atop the state party and enter the Republican primary, according to a New Jersey Globe report.

Steinhardt has been a vocal critic of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, especially over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

coronavirus
CDC

New Jersey officials reported on Wednesday an additional 4,665 confirmed COVID-19 cases, raising the cumulative total to 381,486 since the first case was reported on March 4. An additional 91 deaths were also reported, bringing the toll from the virus to 15,674 since the first death from it was reported March 10.

The state hospital association reported 3,533 hospitalizations as of Tuesday night; 630 patients are in intensive care, and 412 are on ventilators.

New Jersey reported another 3,573 cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the state’s cumulative total to 371,579 lab-confirmed infections since the start of the outbreak.

Another 17 residents died from the virus. There have now been 15,550 lab-confirmed coronavirus fatalities and another 1,836 probable deaths.

There are 3,110 coronavirus-positive patients in New Jersey hospitals, including 637 in critical care and 391 on ventilators.

The state had an 11.4% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests administered on Dec. 3.

Hotels open all the time.

But for a distressed city working toward economic revitalization that hasn’t seen a new one in decades, the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront on Friday was regarded as a major milestone.

“It just means that there is confidence here. That there is opportunity here. That Camden was worthy of building a Hilton,” said Mayor Frank Moran. “It’s a big deal.”

Officials and hotel workers gathered in the late morning rain to cut the ribbon on the new, 180-room property in the shadow of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Several New Jersey hospitals are preparing to receive the first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday.

The state could see 76,000 doses of the vaccine next week — the first of three shipments. By the end of the month, hospitals could receive 300,000 and 500,000 total doses.

New Jersey reported 4,350 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, for a cumulative total of 346,206 infections since the start of the pandemic.

Another 56 residents died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now seen 15,309 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,836 probable deaths.

There was a 13.68% positivity rate for PCR (nasal swab) tests taken on Saturday.

Some 3,287 coronavirus patients were in New Jersey hospitals, with 599 requiring critical care and 354 on ventilators.

State updates travel advisory

New Jersey recorded another 3,199 cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the state’s cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 337,304 infections.

Another 15 residents died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now seen 15,164 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,829 probable deaths.

There was an 11.3% positivity rate for coronavirus tests taken on on Thanksgiving. New Jersey hospitals have 2,961 coronavirus patients, including 575 in critical care and 332 on ventilators.

Roughly four in 10 Garden State residents say they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available, according to a new survey.

The Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Tuesday found that between 36-47% of respondents vowed not to get vaccinated against the virus.

Ashley Koning, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said the results mirror national trends that showed more backing for a vaccine earlier in the pandemic.

New Jersey reported another 2,232 cases of coronavirus Monday. The state saw 14,566 new infections in the past four days alone, Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Another 14 people died from coronavirus. All told there have been 14,779 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,801 probable deaths connected to COVID-19. 

Tighter restrictions on gatherings

Murphy announced via Twitter Monday that he is “retightening” restrictions on gatherings to slow what state officials have called the second wave of COVID-19.

When New Jersey voters opted to legalize recreational marijuana by a 2-to-1 margin last week, all that was left to do was set up the new marketplace.

But social justice advocates say they were dismayed by lawmakers’ first attempt at enabling legislation, which was pulled this week amid criticism.

“The bill that was introduced was an egregious, audacious, insidious white man money grab,” said Charles Boyer, director of the group Salvation and Social Justice and pastor of Bethel AME Church in Woodbury.

New Jersey reported another 3,517 cases of coronavirus Thursday, for a cumulative total of 266,986 infections since the start of the pandemic.

Another 18 residents died from COVID-19. There have now been 14,694 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,801 probable deaths from the disease.

The state reported 1,827 hospitalizations as well as 360 people in intensive-care units, numbers not seen since early June.

There was a 12% positivity rate for coronavirus tests taken Sunday, and the state’s rate of transmission stood at 1.3.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew will hold onto his seat in New Jersey’s southernmost congressional district after beating Democrat Amy Kennedy.

The Associated Press called the race for the now-Republican Van Drew on Friday, after the race remained too close to call for days despite ongoing ballot-counting.

New Jersey recorded another 2,104 cases of coronavirus Thursday, bringing its cumulative total to 247,219 infections since the pandemic began.

Another 12 people died from COVID-19. There have now been 14,603 lab-confirmed deaths and another 1,800 probable fatalities in New Jersey.

The testing positivity rate was 7.74% for coronavirus tests administered on Nov. 1.

New restrictions ‘close’ as infections rise

New Jersey recorded its highest single-day increase in new coronavirus infections since May on Wednesday.

In a tweet, Gov. Phil Murphy announced another 2,472 positive cases of COVID-19.

“We are still in the midst of the pandemic and need everyone to take this seriously. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands,” he said.

The spike came days after Murphy and other officials said New Jersey was in the midst of a second wave of infections, as the weather gets colder and more people have been gathering indoors.

After years of efforts and several different iterations, New Jersey will implement one of the strongest plastic and paper bag bans in the country.

Environmental advocates say the omnibus ban will reduce the amount of litter, especially in waterways, and help combat climate change.

On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law, which will outlaw single-use plastic bags, paper bags in large grocery stores, and polystyrene food containers.

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