Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing: 3/27/2020

Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing

Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 3/27/2020:


QUOTE OF THE DAY: Anyone who has a corona party, we will crash your party.” – Governor Murphy warning residents not to gather and to practice social distancing


TOP STORY: The Political Aftermath of the Crisis (Whenever that Comes)


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


In the deadliest day so far in New Jersey, the state’s COVID-19 case count climbed to 6,876 (an increase of over 2400 in 24 hours) with 81 fatalities in total (climbing by 19 in 24 hours). The day before saw an increase of over 700 cases. Governor Murphy and state officials held their daily COVID-19 briefing, where the Governor formally announced that the state has received a major disaster declaration from the federal government. He said ‘we need billions more‘, talking about the federal stimulus package, noting that its a ‘big step in the right direction’. The Governor urged people to remain at home, saying ‘don’t think if you feel fine’ after a few days at home, its OK to resume your lifestyle. He said he doesn’t intend to revisit schools re-openings before April 17th. Blasting those who have attempted to use the pandemic to fan racial flames, Murphy said theres a ‘special place in hell‘ for bigots. The Governor announced a new website for donating and reporting personal protective equipment.


As expected, the number of unemployment applications in New Jersey has surged to a record number amid the COVID-19 pandemic at 155,815 new applications.


The NJ Department of Human Services announced $70M in food assistance for vulnerable families.


Atlantic County reported 2 new COVID-19 cases yesterday morning, bringing the total to 11. On Wednesday, the county reported three COVID-19 case yesterday afternoon.


Bergen County reported a total of 1206 COVID-19 cases and 20 fatalities, as of yesterday, up from 857 COVID-19 cases and 5 deaths, on Wednesday. County Executive Tedesco issued an executive order closing Ramapo Valley County Reservation, Campgaw Mountain Reservation and Darlington County Park to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, the county donated PPE equipment to six hospitals; and began accepting donations of PPE at the county annex building in Paramus.


Burlington County reported 8 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing the total to 67 cases; the day before, the county reported 10 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and three deaths in Mount Laurel.


Camden County reported 14 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing its total to 84; the day before, the county reported 11 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 70 cases. The county launched a portal connecting residents with volunteer opportunities.


Essex County released an update on the precautions the county is taking to combat COVID-19. Earlier this week, the county announced a drive-through COVID testing site.


Hudson County reported a total of 441 COVID-19 cases and 6 deaths as of yesterday evening, up from 260 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths on Wednesday.


Hunterdon County reported 35 COVID-19 cases as of yesterdy.


Gloucester County reported 7 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday morning, bringing the total to 33; the day before, the county reported seven new COVID-19 cases, a total of 26. The county’s Social Services and Disability Services are teaming up to feed vulnerable residents. The Animal Shelter is seeking donations for its Pet Food Pantry.


Mercer County reported a total of 111 COVID-19 cases as of yesterday.


Monmouth County reported a total of 506 COVID-19 cases as of yesterday.


Morris County released guidance on safe usage of the parks system. The county is partnering with non-profits to help the homeless population.


Ocean County reported a total of 468 COVID-19 cases as of yesterday, with Lakewood the highest municipality with a case count of 198; a day earlier, the county had a total of 321 COVID-19 cases. Two government workers tested positive, according to the Asbury Park Press. The county will open a COVID-19 testing site for county residents on Monday.


Passaic County reports a total of 265 COVID-19 cases and 7 deaths as of Wednesday.


Salem County announced 2 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing its total to 3.


Somerset County reported a total of 190 COVID-19 cases and 4 fatalities yesterday, up from 139 COVID-19 cases and 2 deaths on Wednesday.


Sussex County reported 15 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing the total to 47 cases; a day before, the county had 10 new COVID-19 cases with a total of 32. The county has opened the first county-run drive-through COVID testing site.


Union County released guidance on safe usage of the parks system.


Warren County reported a total of 36 COVID-19 cases yesterday, up from 29 COVID-19 cases the day before.


Senator Booker led the state’s congressional delegation in sending a letter urging the Postmaster General to do more to protect the safety of letter carriers, as 40 USPS workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Booker touted the inclusion of direct cash assistance in the COVID-19 relief bills.


Senator Menendez and Rep. Sherrill led the delegation in calling on HHS Secretary Azar to utilize the Defense Production Act.


Rep. Smith secured the shipment of 41M medical gloves for distribution to healthcare workers across the nation.


Rep. Norcross sent a letter to AG Barr calling for more aggressive action to end price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Rep. Kim released a statement saying he’s ‘glad’ the state received a federal major disaster area declaration.


ICYMI: AG renewed warning of criminal charges for SAH order; Murphy orders close of childcare centers; Murphy pressed on omission of gun stores; Murphy says virus ‘will worsen‘ if regs are loosened; Turnpike Authority suspended cash tolls; Cape May has 9 COVID-19 cases; Cumberland reports first COVID-19 fatality; Hunterdon municipal breakdown; Murphy adds to essential businesses; First Lady launches New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund; Cuomo sounds dire alarm; state launches jobs portal; Tedesco under self-quarantine, Bergen setting up test site, Bergen Jail inmate positive; Morris announced release of inmates; Essex Corrections officer tested positive; Kim tested negative; Gottheimer under self-quarantine; Sherril, Malinowski tele-town halls; Murphy suspended elective surgeries; directed labs report COVID-19 test results directly to DOH; Murphy says ‘let’s stay compassionate‘; the ‘new normal‘; NJ launched COVID-19 website; regional coalition wants feds to provide immediate direct cash assistance; Holmdel COVID-19 testing site opens; Salem’s first coronavirus case; special/BOE elections will be VBM-only; foreclosure/eviction moratorium; Tedesco rescinded his revised executive order virus ‘steep curve‘; Murphy on Trump: ‘leave history to historians


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Former NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin is joining former Gov. Christie’ firm, Christie 55 Solutions, as their new managing director.
Mary Dougherty, John Cesaro, and John Windish rejected plea deals stemming from bribery charges, according to MorristownGreen.
In CD5, GOP primary candidate Frank Pallotta blasted Governor Murphy over his comments related to the omission of gun stores from the list of essential businesses in his executive order.
ICYMI: In CD5, Ghassali sidelined his campaign; Monmouth poll shows close prez race; battleground GOP candidates fired off statements; Essex Dems postponed CC elections; Insider NJ’s key must-read pieces; Cape May Dems support extending CC terms for one year, following NJDSC recommendation, progressives blast ‘transparent attempt’ to protect incumbents; LGBTQ leaders endorsed Biden; Essex Dems award line; with COVID-19, easy to forget political happenings; Somerset Dems held virtual convention; Morristown streets devoid of people; clerks leaning towards all-VBM elections Suleiman wants VBM primary; Hudson politics at stand-still; Hamm submitted 2.5k petition signatures


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Former Senator Francis McManimon passed away at age 93.


Governor Murphy signed legislation to expand the state’s paid family leave and disability benefits programs; the measure was championed by Senate President Sweeney.


The NJEDA announced several new initiatives to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The NJDOL announced that the state’s unemployment rate for February was 3.8% (prior to the COVID outbreak).


Lawmakers believe the COVID-19 pandemic could pave the way for passage of the vaccine bill, according to Politico NJ.


Senator Gopal introduced legislation to increase penalties for selling fake medical supplies.


Senator Pennacchio appealed to the medical community to assist local hospitals. Pennaccio called on Governor Murphy to add gun stores to the list of essential businesses and to ‘honor the US Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights’.


Senator Doherty called on Governor Murphy to add gun stores to the list of essential businesses.


Senator Bucco applauded the NJEDA’s new initiatives for businesses.


Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblymembers DiMaso and Scharfenberger said releasing criminals from jail due to COVID-19 should be the ‘absolute last resort‘ and ‘simple lunacy’.


Europeans sports betting affiliate Leadstar received a license to operate in NJ.


ICYMI: Bramnick blasted social media sniped; Pennacchio doubled-down on his call to explore hydroxychloroquine as COVID treatment; Treasury freezing nearly $1B in spending; Murphy took action on COVID-19 bills; Calabrese tested positive, Schepisi tested negative; Sweeney wants two-month moratorium on loans, grace period for student loans; Senate advanced Sweeney legislation stemming from NJEA agreement; NJ Turnpike Authority went through with two hearings on toll hikes; Senate session comes amid concerns of functionality; Vitale demanded the closure of day care centers, calling it ‘double standard‘ while schools are closed; Sweeney urged employers to stand with employees, identified actions for economic relief amid outbreak; Senate postponed proceedings; Singleton sits down w/ Insider NJ


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Insider NJ’s John Van Vliet delves into the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects Italy, from a personal perspective, and how it relates to the United States and New Jersey.


Rep. Malinowski and Steve Adubato discuss the issues impacting the 2020 elections on Think Tank.


Read and download Tom Barrett’s 2020 New Jersey Irish Leaders publication in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.


Visit the Insider 100 Publications page, the Events Calendar, the Press Release page, and check out the Insider NJ Video Gallery and Insider NJ Podcast page.


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


In Jersey City, the city is launching two COVID-19 testing sites for city residents; officials will announce the openings this morning. Fulop announced increased police presence and emergency response during the crisis; the city has 130 COVID-19 cases as of yesterday.


In Newark, Mayor Baraka launched a grant program to help the city’s small businesses. On Wednesday, Baraka dedicated $6M for targeted COVID-19 intervention. Earlier in the week, the mayor announced an all-city quarantine, advising residents to stay at home and only come out if its an emergency. The move comes after Baraka stepped up restrictions in the city with stronger measures, and implored residents to stay in place with the 8pm mandatory curfew.


In Paterson, Mayor Sayegh reported two COVID-19 fatalities, bringing the city’s total to 4; according to Passaic County, Paterson has 67 cases total. Rep. Pascrell announced $72k for the Paterson Community Health Center.


In Hoboken, Mayor Bhalla reported that the city had its highest one-day increase of COVID-19 cases, with 16 new cases, bringing the total to 56; among the positive individuals is a police officer. Bhalla, Council President Giattino, and CarePoint officials made an urgent plea to the US Health and Human Services Department for medical resources to sustain Hoboken University Medical Center.


In Trenton, Mayor Gusciora launched the Small Business Fiscal Relief Program to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 economic hardship.


In Atlantic City, mass layoffs at casinos have begun, according to the Press of Atlantic City.


In Edison, COVID-19 cases surged as the town reports 19 more cases, according to MyCentralJersey.


In Montclair, the town has had 9 COVID-19 fatalities, and 41 confirmed cases, according to NorthJersey.com.


In Woodbridge, the LD19 legislators applauded the heroic efforts and coordination of the transport of all 94 residents of St. Joseph’s Senior Home to a facility in Whippany; all of the residents are presumed positive for COVID-19.


In Paterson, candidates offer mixed reactions to the all-VBM council election, according to TAPinto. The feds say the city must repay $705k for a failed project, according to Paterson Press.


In Island Heights, all public access areas have been shut down including the beach, according to ShoreNewsNetwork.


In Union City, commissioners approved a rent hike moratorium, according to Hudson County View.


In Summit, the GOP nominated its slate via ‘virtual convention’, according to TAPinto.


In Jackson Township, the proposed budget calls for a $21 average tax increase, according to the Asbury Park Press.


In Ventnor, the BOE reduced its proposed budget, according to Downbeach.


In Teaneck, town suffers slow gov’t response time, Weinberg says ‘most people are following the guidelines‘; in JC, Fulop says $70M budget slam due to COVID-19; in Hamilton Township, reported 12 COVID-19 cases; in Trenton, COVID-19 testing site for first responders; in AC, Senator Rice concerned w/ referendum ‘opportunists swooping in’; in Manalapan, skirmish ensued when man coughed on Wegman’s employee, faces charges; in Paterson, city closing parks; in Bergenfield, first COVID-19 fatality; in Perth Amboy, city first presumptive positive case, Diaz declared state of emergency; in Saddle Brook, state’s third death was 90-year old town resident; in East Orange, a woman who tested positive gave false name/ address at hospital


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


InsiderNJ Editorial: The Political Aftermath of the Crisis (Whenever that Comes)


Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes ‘Murphy’s Presser: the Courage to Face COVID-19, while Tiptoeing around Trump’s Ego


In a guest column on Insider NJ, Madelyn Hoffman writes ‘Lack Of Moral Compass by Certain Elected Officials Simply Shameful


Insider NJ columnist and ELEC ED Jeffrey Brindle writes ‘ELEC Still Doing its Job Despite the COVID-19 Crisis


Insider NJ columnist Matt Hale writes ‘A View from the Middle… A Small Partnership to Help Small Businesses through Covid-19


Insider NJ reporter Fred Snowflack writes ‘A Kindly Uncle Toughening in a Time of Crisis


Insider NJ columnist Bob Hennelly writes ‘Just Who is Essential in NJ’s COVID-19 Battle?‘ and ‘Monday Morning in USA of Corona: Leadership and Faith in Times of Tribulation




Sweeney: COVID-19 will reshape our priorities and our institutions

Steve Sweeney


  • Crises of this nature have a habit of rearranging our priorities. Many of us were disappointed to see March Madness canceled, the NBA season stalled or our favorite concerts and shows put off until further notice. But what I hope this global pandemic has also done is shine a light on the necessity of every layer of our society and more crucial than ever are those layers that most people hardly even notice.


Get the hell off your own beach; Viral reaction brings up a bad memory of Chris Christie | Mulshine

Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger


  • I happened to be in Florida when the corona virus crisis struck. That offered two advantages. One was that Florida has a much lower rate of incidence than New Jersey. The other was that I had a ringside seat for a confrontation that brought to mind a classic episode in the career of our own Chris Christie.


It’s not fake news: Washington is actually helping | Moran

Tom Moran, Star-Ledger


  • Leaders of both political parties in Washington yesterday put aside their differences and acted decisively to help American families and businesses weather this crisis.


NJ Outlines Field Hospital Plan to Prepare for Surge of COVID-19 Patients

Lilo H. Stainton, NJ Spotlight


  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy pledged Wednesday to spare no expense in saving lives from the coronavirus and promised to leave no patients “on the battlefield” in the state’s fight to win the war on the pandemic. Critical to the state’s response are the four temporary “field hospitals” being planned by U.S. Army officials, the first of which Murphy said would be open within a week at the Meadowlands convention center in Secaucus.


‘I’m just as worried about the economy collapsing as I am of this virus’

Tom Bergeron, roi-nj.com


  • The plans, the solutions, the business models always come to Anthony Calandra at 2 a.m. And then again at 3, 4, 5 and 6. At daybreak — after another sleepless night — reality comes into focus. There’s no easy way out of this. Not right now. Not with the economy ground to a halt.


Despite opposition from Solomon, Jersey City Council OKs $918K JCETP contract

Marc Bussanich, Hudson County View


  • At their first public session done virtually in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, the Jersey City Council approved an over $918,000 contract with their local employment and training program, despite the objections raised by Ward E Councilman James Solomon.


COVID-19 federal stimulus may not be enough for NJ

Daniel J. Munoz, njbiz.com


  • Gov. Phil Murphy showed cautiously optimistic support for the $2 trillion federal stimulus package and the aid it would mean for New Jersey, despite much harsher criticisms from his counterpart in Albany: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “It isn’t everything,” Murphy said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “Let there be no doubt about it, we’ll likely need more. But I think it’s a big step in the right direction … Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”


Despite virus, truckers on road for long haul

Bruce A. Scruton, NJ Herald


  • There was a steady flow of big rigs through the fueling stations at the Norman Knight Travel Center on Tuesday afternoon, but the parking lot was only about a third full of motorists’ vehicles.


South Jersey grocery stores install plexiglass barriers at registers amid COVID-19 spread

Molly Bilinski, Press of Atlantic City


  • South Jersey grocery retailers are responding to the spread of COVID-19 by adding plexiglass barriers at checkout lines to separate staff from shoppers.


Mystery man leaves doctors, nurses in tears as he holds sign up to hospital window

Jessie Gomez, Morristown Daily Record


  • Nurses, doctors and staff at Morristown Medical Center were left in tears as a mystery man held up a sign to the hospital window thanking them for saving his wife’s life. As staff tended to a busy emergency room, the unknown man stood outside the back window of the emergency department, placed his hand over his heart and held the poster sign that read: “Thank you all in emergency for saving my wife’s life I love you all.”


Coronavirus NJ: Fusco family says doctors need more leeway with remdesivir, chloroquine

Jerry Carino, Asbury Park Press


  • After the coronavirus killed four members of her family, which has deep Monmouth County roots, Roseann Paradiso Fodera wants to see a change in the way the pandemic is treated.


Morristown daughter recounts harrowing journey of 98-year-old mom with COVID-19

Kevin Coughlin, Morristown Green


  • Barbara Orfini never dreamed she’d be making pizza deliveries at age 65. But she was thrilled to be doing it on Thursday. The Morristown resident delivered 10 pies as a thank you to the staff at CareOne in Hanover, where her 98-year-old mother, Catherine Onuska, and dozens of other seniors were transferred Wednesday from the St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge.


Paterson resident ‘appalled’ by Khalique’s campaign people knocking on doors amid coronavirus outbreak

Letter to the Editor, Paterson Times


  • Thumbs down to Paterson’s 2nd Ward councilman Shahin Khalique for his recent actions in garnering support for his re-election in May. In a Covid-19 world with Federal, State and City Executive Orders to restrict residents from venturing outside unnecessarily in an effort to “decrease the spread” or “flatten the curve,” councilman Khalique has deemed it okay, I guess, to solicit votes door-to-door in his ward, under the guise of performing a service to his constituents.


Sweeney: Federal stimulus package a bad deal for New Jersey

David Cruz, NJTV


  • Congress is poised to pass a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, pending a House vote on Friday. It includes direct cash payments for some New Jerseyians — up to $2,400 — along with a financial boost to unemployment insurance. But one of New Jersey’s top lawmakers is saying we’re getting short-changed, calling it a “bad deal” for the state. Senior Correspondent David Cruz talks to Senate President Steve Sweeney.


DRJTBC toll bridges going cashless

Bruce A. Scruton, NJ Herald


  • The three toll bridges which cross the Delaware River and owned by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission have gone cashless for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Revamped Paterson mill now producing 100,000 masks a week in coronavirus ‘war’

Richard Cowen, NorthJersey.com


  • The textile mills and dye houses that gave Paterson the nickname Silk City are almost all gone, but one that has survived the endless trade wars is now stepping up in America’s newly declared “war” on the coronavirus.


Will antibody testing be the coronavirus difference-maker? Maybe

Jeff Edelstein, The Trentonian


  • In my ongoing attempt to not completely lose my mind due to general anxiety, I continue to look for some semblance of good news in the ongoing coronavirus catastrophe. So for today, say hello to antibody testing. That’s the next big step in the coronavirus fight, and it’s the one that is probably going to decide how quickly we can get back to “normal” life.


SEC charges Rite Aid exec from Marlton with insider sales of over $650,000

Erin Arvedlund, Philadelphia Inquirer


  • Wall Street regulators on Thursday filed a complaint against a Rite Aid executive from Marlton who allegedly traded on inside information, selling more than $650,000 in stock before Rite Aid’s share price dropped one day later.


PATCO closing four rail stations between Philly and South Jersey as ridership falls

Carol Comegno, Cherry Hill Courier-Post


  • The PATCO HI-Speedline will close four of its 13 stations on its Philly-South Jersey rail line temporarily beginning Saturday, the agency announced Thursday afternoon. PATCO cited the health and safety of its workers and passengers as well the steep decline in ridership since state curfews measures were put in place in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to help curb the spread of COVID-19.


Cooper University Hospital named to coordinate South Jersey response

Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post


  • Cooper University Hospital has been named to coordinate the response by South Jersey health systems to the coronavirus crisis, the state’s health commissioner said Thursday. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases continued to rise in South Jersey as four PATCO stations prepared to close due to falling ridership.


N.J. reports 1st health care worker to die from coronavirus

Matt Arco, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com


  • The first New Jersey health care worker has died from the coronavirus, state officials reported Thursday. “It was a part-time worker in the northern part of the state,” state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said, adding she believed the person worked in environmental sciences in a hospital on weekend shifts.


How To Pull Off a Kid’s Birthday Party During COVID-19 Quarantine

Judi Franco, NJ1015


  • This is a dilemma that I’ve been reading about online and hearing about on the air: how to make your kid a birthday party when you’re isolated because of the COVID-19 crisis. I’ve seen moms and dads celebrating with their kids at home, but let’s face it: a slice of cake around the kitchen table with mom and dad does not a party make.


NJ Attorney General: Large Gatherings in Lakewood, Salem Put Police Officers at Risk

Shore News Network


  • New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is finally cracking down on large public gatherings in the face of the growing Coronavirus outbreak in New Jersey. At the Jersey Shore, Lakewood Township’s rate of infection is leading the southern half of New Jersey and Grewal said his office will start imposing $1,000 fines and holding organizers of large gatherings accountable.Violations of Governor Murphy’s social distancing executive order can also face up to 6 months in jail.
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