Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing: 3/31/2020

Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing

Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 3/31/2020:


QUOTE OF THE DAY: We are in the fight of our lives, let there be no doubt it.” – Governor Murphy on the COVID-19 pandemic


TOP STORY: Irvington in Unique Combined School Board and Nonpartisan Circumstances 


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


As the statewide COVID-19 case count climbed by 3,347 in 24 hours, to 16,636 COVID-19 cases and a loss of another 37 residents, bringing the number of total fatalities to 198, Governor Murphy and state officials held their daily COVID-19 briefing yesterday afternoon. Appearing grim, the Governor said ‘we need more ventilators’, noting that the feds will give the state 300 of them; still, ‘this is far, far clear from what we ultimately need’. Again, the Governor strongly urged residents to stay at home. NJ State Police Colonel Callahan discussed the latest slew of executive order violations, including another case of a man who coughed on police while claiming to have COVID19, and another large gathering in Lakewood that police shut down. As of yesterday, police have handled 70 complaints. Murphy and Colonel Callahan announced updates and clarifications to the list of businesses allowed to operate as per the Governor’s executive order. After several confrontations with critics in recent days, Murphy said that firearms retailers will be allowed to operate in the state by appointment only. Murphy was pressed on a possible ‘Christie-Obama moment‘ with President Trump – who earlier referred to Murphy as a ‘great guy’, saying he has to deal with the ‘leaders in place’, not the ones he wants.


During a morning phone interview, Governor Murphy said that the COVID-19 lockdown will ‘bleed meaningfully into May‘, according to


Law enforcement officials created a federal-state COVID-19 task force.


AG Grewal imposed emergency restrictions on certain prescription medications to avoid shortages due to COVID-19. Grewal announced new rules to protect the elderly and disabled during the crisis.


NYC Mayor DeBlasio was asked at a press conference why he hasn’t closed parks and playgrounds like Hoboken and Bergen County; DeBlasio says its not a great idea for NYC at this time.


The NJDOL extended closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that residents should utilize their virtual services.


Atlantic County reported 5 new COVID-19 cases on Monday morning.


Bergen County reported a total of 2,607 COVID-19 cases and 41 fatalities as of Monday. Sheriff Cureton announced two additional COVID-19 cases among detainees in the county jail.


Burlington County reported 10 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday, for a total of 167 cases.


Camden County reported 41 new COVID-19 cases and 2 fatalities on Monday, bringing the total case count to 202.


Cape May County had its biggest single day on COVID-19 cases on Sunday, with 5 new cases, and reported a total of 19 COVID-19 cases as of Monday.


Essex County Sheriff Fontoura has tested positive for COVID-19, and is currently in self-isolation.


Gloucester County reports 89 total COVID-19 cases as of Monday morning.


Hudson County has a total of 971 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths as of Monday.


Hunterdon County reported a total of 76 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday. Freeholders will hold a special meeting today to discuss the impact of COVID-19.


Mercer County has a total of 249 COVID-19 cases as of Monday.


Middlesex County will open a drive-through COVID-19 testing site tomorrow; the county has 1,123 cases as of Monday.


Monmouth County reported a total of 1,033 COVID-19 cases as of Monday; Middletown, where Governor Murphy is a resident, has the highest count of any town in the county, with 103 cases.


Morris County released a municipal matrix of COVID-19 cases.


Ocean County reported a total of 954 COVID-19 cases as of Monday; Lakewood continues to have the highest count of any town with 399 cases. The county reported on the first of its COVID-19 testing center.


Salem County reported 9 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing its total to 12 cases.


Somerset County reported a total of 331 COVID-19 cases and 11 fatalities as of Monday.


Sussex County reported 24 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total to 122 cases.


Union County announced new guidelines for its COVID-19 testing site and expanded its telemedicine procedures to first responders and healthcare professionals across the state.


Warren County reported a total of 72 COVID-19 cases as of Monday.


Rep. Smith successfully worked to bring home 17 Americans who were trapped in Peru.


A lawsuit against the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office alleges a lieutenant was retaliated against for speaking out, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.


ICYMI: Murphy: ‘this is not the time for a pickup basketball game‘;Murphy ‘naming and shaming‘ EO violators; law enforcement actions; Grewal renewed warning of criminal charges; financial institutions will provide mortgage forbearance; Murphy sparred on gun store question; DOD approved National Guard usage; Trump’s possibility of tri-state quarantine cedes to domestic travel advisory; Gottheimer tested negative after self-quarantine; Bergen closes county parks; Mercer corrections staffer tested positive; Ocean beach and boardwalk restrictions; NJ major disaster area; Murphy says ‘we need billions more‘ from feds, ‘special place in hell‘ for bigots; UE apps surged


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Insider NJ and Democratic Senate primary candidate Larry Hamm discuss the campaign season amidst the COVID-19 crisis.


Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, here’s the list of congressional primary candidates who made the filing deadline this year.


In Morris County, it appears as though there won’t be any contested GOP or Democratic primaries for the special legislative races in LD25, nor for Republicans in CD7 or CD11.


In CD2, Democratic primary candidate Brigid Harrison’s campaign blasted rival Amy Kennedy over ‘hypocrisy’ on her county line stance following the cancellation of the Ocean Dems’ vote to award the line, saying ‘less than two months ago, Amy signed a pledge calling for the end of the county line. Now she seems to be its ultimate defender’. Kennedy filed petitions with more than 1300 signatures yesterday.


The NJ Progressive Democrats of Union County is running a full slate of candidates for county offices in the June primary.


Sussex County Democrats endorsed 2020 candidates at a virtual convention.


Ocean County is investigating a social media rant by a Lakewood deputy fire marshal, according to the Asbury Park Press.


ICYMI: Morris parties postponed CC elections; WFNJ endorsed Kreibich, Spiller, Kennedy; Martin joining Christie firm; in CD5, Ghassali sidelined his campaign; battleground GOP candidates fired off statements; with COVID-19, easy to forget political happenings; Morristown streets devoid of people; clerks leaning towards all-VBM elections


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Senator Testa says he’s ‘pleased’ that Governor Murphy is allowing firearms retailers to operate during the state of emergency, saying it ‘never should have been infringed upon in the first place’.


Senator Pennacchio again called for the use of hydroxychloroquine to early-treat high-risk groups for COVID-19 following emergency authorization by the FDA.


Senator Holzapfel and Assemblymen McGuckin and Catalano called for the halt of any hearings on proposed toll hikes.


Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblymembers DiMaso and Scharfenberger expressed their grave concerns at the actions taken by the New Jersey Judicial and Executive branches of government with regard to the temporary release of prisoners.


The NJ Gas, Convenience Store, and Automotive Association called on Governor Murphy to temporarily suspend the self-serve gas prohibition; the Governor tweeted yesterday afternoon that there are no plans to do so.


The ACLU-NJ filed a lawsuit seeking the release of two ICE detainees in Essex County who the claim are vulnerable to COVID-19.


Over 60 groups urged Governor Murphy to stop dangerous permits and projects until the COVID-19 crisis ends.


ICYMI: McManimon passed away; Murphy signed legislation to expand the paid family leave; NJEDA announced new initiatives


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Governor Murphy stands poised to make a decision about how New Jersey will handle the June Primary elections, gingerly trying to walk a tightrope between health of the body politic and the always embattled and seldom invigorated health of democracy itself.


There are some troubling signs that governments could be pushing the equilibrium we have now too far.


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.


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


The Mayors of Newark, Irvington, Orange, and East Orange will announce today a one-week, four-city lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.


The mayors of all 16 towns in Cape May County requested that all non-residents stay away amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


In Irvington, the city is in a unique position with BOE and nonpartisan council races in May due to the COVID-19 election changes.


In Union Township, Committeeman Florio launched his re-election campaign, and called for a suspension of campaign lawn signs during the COVID-19 crisis.


In Carteret, Mayor Dan Reiman tested positive for COVID-19, detailing his experience with the virus on social media.


In Hoboken, residents witnessed history as the USNS Comfort lowered its anchor at Pier 90 to provide support for medical workers. Mayor Bhalla reported 12 new COVID-19 cases and 1 fatality in the city, as of Monday. The COVID-19 crisis is adding to the city’s fiscal woes, with Councilwoman Fisher saying ‘I honestly don’t know what we’re going to do’, according to the Jersey Journal.


In Ewing, Mayor Steinmann tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Trentonian.


In Trenton, Police Director Coley tested positive for COVID-19, one of three officers who have the virus, according to the Trentonian.


In Bayonne, the city had its third COVID-19 fatality on Monday.


In North Bergen, an infant less than two weeks tested positive for COVID-19, according to Hudson County View.


In Lakewood, police broke up the 5th gathering in a week, according to the Asbury Park Press.


In Hawthorne, the town saw its first COVID-19 death, according to TAPinto.


In Paterson, a fourth resident died due to COVID-19. The courts overturned the convictions in the killing of Nazerah Bugg, according to the Paterson Press.


In Cliffside Park, a 30-year old baseball coach died due to COVID-19 complications, according to the Bergen Record.


In Hamilton (Mercer), the township has nearly 20% of all COVID-19 cases in the county, according to the Trentonian.


In Avalon, the mayor says non-residents who show up could be fined $1,000, according to ShoreNewsNetwork.


In Bloomfield, the town reported 2 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 4 fatalities, according to TAPinto.


In Milltown, the town reported its first COVID-19 case, according to TAPinto.


In New Milford, the town has five COVID-19 cases, according to the Bergen Record.


In Peapack-Gladstone, police chief tests have been postponed, according to NJ Hills.


In Weehawken, the town reported its second COVID-19 death, according to Hudson County View.


In West New York, the township reported its first COVID-19 fatality, according to Hudson County View.


In Jackson, the township gave the schools $1M to lessen the impact of ‘devastating’ cuts, according to the Asbury Park Press.


In Totowa, Precision Textiles is donating medical-grade beds to Englewood Hospital.


In Elizabeth, 20-year old Kason Little is running for council-at-large.


In Cranford, Commissioners Giblin and Maisonnueve won’t seek re-election this year, according to TAPinto.


In Princeton, Councilman Freda will run unopposed in the Democratic mayoral primary, and is on track to run unopposed in the general election, according to Planet Princeton.


In Moorestown, the GOP endorsed their candidates for council.


In Tewksbury, the town introduced a budget with an average tax increase of $208, according to NJ Hills.


In Mountain Lakes, the BOE is considering school layoffs as it faces a $1.5M budget shortfall, according to the Daily Record.


In Hackensack, the Champions for Students BOE slate held a virtual town hall.


In Teaneck, residents worship and close ranks across those fierce religious divides; in Jersey City, Lavarro tested positive, Yun ‘on onxygen‘; in Hoboken, closure of city parks; in Livingston, former Councilman Isherwood passed away


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg writes ‘Whitmer Defeats Trump – and Murphy Wins as Well


Insider NJ columnist Mary Gatta writes ‘NJ’s Social Distancing Scorecard: We Have Some Work to Do


In a guest column on Insider NJ, Beach Haven Democratic Chairman Bob Stern writes ‘South Jersey Politics: Disappointment and Hope


Insider NJ columnist Bob Hennelly writes ‘The Free Republic of Reality: Our Declaration of Interdependence‘ and ‘Just Who is Essential in NJ’s COVID-19 Battle?


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




Social distancing isn’t so easy to do, is it? You’re not alone — literally | I’m OK, you OK?

Jim Beckerman,


  • “I vhant to be alone,” Greta Garbo used to say. Evidently not so easy for her. Otherwise she would simply have been alone — rather than always wanting to be. And not so easy for us.


Assessing New Jersey’s fiscal house in a time of crisis | Opinion

Richard Keevey


  • Health concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus dominate the news, but it is important to consider major financial issues that New Jersey and almost every other state will soon face. The financial situation in New Jersey could be dire or just troublesome. I hope for the latter, but I fear the former. Let’s look at two major spending items and the revenue situation.


During coronavirus, Burlington County finds ways to unwind, connect with others

Jarrad Saffren, Burlington County Times


  • The coronavirus pandemic has confined most Burlington County residents to their homes, and they are finding different ways of coping. Most of them involve relieving stress or connecting with others or both.


Forget Washington — corporate America is focused on governors right now

Sam Suttons, Politico


  • When Goldman Sachs directed more than 12,000 employees in the New York City metro area to work from home two weeks ago, bank President John Waldron didn’t need to check with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — he got on the phone with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.


As residents lock themselves away to prevent spread of the coronavirus, has crime taken a holiday?

Tony Rhodin, For


  • Well into the coronavirus disaster that began unfolding last December in China, people began to notice brilliant blue skies replacing those normally choked with the heavy gray of air pollution. With workers staying home and factories closing down, unhealthy conditions that are part of everyday life in that country had lifted for the moment.


Pictures from the COVID-19 Battlefront: The Team at Holy Name Medical Center at Work

Jeff Rhode, NJ Spotlight


  • Photojournalist Jeff Rhode’s images of doctors, nurses, EMTs, and custodial staffers at Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck in hard-hit Bergen County.


83-year-old woman becomes Paterson’s fourth coronavirus death

Jayed Rahman, Paterson Times


  • A fourth person has died from the new coronavirus in Paterson. Number of people tested positive for Covid-19 has increased from 175 to 225 on Sunday, according to municipal government data. The deceased is an 83-year-old Paterson woman, officials said on Monday morning. Previously, two men and a woman perished after testing positive for the new coronavirus.


Presenting the 2020 NJBIZ Health Care Power 50

Jeffrey Kanige, NJBIZ


  • When the NJBIZ staff established the 2020 editorial calendar and scheduled this list for this week, COVID-19 was still something happening somewhere far away. It was only just a few months ago, but it seems like ages. This issue of NJBIZ is the second that writers and editors have assembled while working remotely in compliance with mandates to stay away from offices in an effort to “flatten the curve” and control the outbreak. COVID-19 is now something happening right here, right now.


South Jersey lawyers work remotely, virtually amid COVID-19 court restrictions

Molly Bilinsky, Press of Atlantic City


  • Paul D’Amato started transitioning from working in his Egg Harbor Township-based personal injury law firm over two weeks ago, making sure that technology would work as he continued to handle cases and communicate with clients remotely.


NJ State Police official ‘overstated’ number of positive cases among officers; N.J. death toll passes 160, Pa.’s, 40.

Philadelphia Inquirer


  • In his 25 years as an industrial designer, Tod Corlett has devised lighting systems and electronic signs, and guided student projects in such diverse realms as furniture and footwear. On March 18, the Jefferson University professor got an urgent call from his dean with a new kind of challenge: Can you make us a ventilator?


Coronavirus a ‘whole different ball game’ for special education community

Cheryl Makin, Bridgewater Courier News


  • While the new normal of remote learning is getting a thumbs-up from many, it presents additional challenges for those with special needs. “Having two children with IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) rolled out to remote learning has been incredibly overwhelming,” said Diane Michael, president of the Old Bridge Special Education Parent Teacher Association, or SEPTA.


Incumbent GOP Somerset freeholders Levine, Gallagher will run for re-election

Mike Deak, Bridgewater Courier News


  • In a presidential election year, Somerset County Republicans will try to hold onto two seats on the five-member freeholder board by running incumbents Brian Levine and Brian Gallagher. Running against them on the Democratic ticket will be North Plainfield Borough Councilman Doug Singleterry and former Hillsborough Township Committeeman Paul Drake.


My week with coronavirus: APP reporter chronicles fevers and fatigue; ‘This is not a joke’

Mike Davis, Asbury Park Press


  • “It won’t really affect me.” I turned 31 years old on Saturday and, like a lot of other people my age, that was my mantra in regards to COVID-19. I was unlikely to catch the coronavirus and, even if I did, I’d simply rest for a day or two and be back on my feet. When you keep hearing that 80% of cases are mild, it’s easy to shrug the whole thing off — even as you find yourself glued to a couch, too tired to pick yourself up.


Progressives sue over decision to postpone county committee elections

Matt Friedman, Politico


  • Progressive activists are suing two New Jersey county Democratic organizations over their decisions to delay county committee elections by a year, alleging that party leaders are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to maintain power.


Ocean County Democratic Endorsements: A Remote Approach

Stephanie A. Faughnan,


  • The Ocean County Republican Organization met earlier this month to cast their votes for party line endorsements. They jampacked a Toms River ballroom and exchanged plenty of handshakes and hugs. However, that was before the age of social distancing. Yesterday, their Democratic counterparts found themselves confined to a conference call format, with most lines muted.


2 Democrats unopposed for re-election to East Hanover council

New Jersey


  • Council President Michael Martorelli and Councilman Frank DeMaio Jr., both Democrats, are running unopposed for re-election.


First Death in Hawthorne from Coronavirus, County Reports

John Van Vliet, TAPinto Hawthorne


  • The Passaic County Department of Health updated its municipality-wide listing of new coronavirus cases on Monday, March 30. The update indicated that one person has now died in Hawthorne. The county’s official tally for Hawthorne stands at 32 confirmed cases, although Mayor Richard Goldberg said in a letter that the number of cases in town was in the “low forties.”


Coronavirus: NJ may run out of ICU hospital beds in 2 weeks without more social distancing

Lindy Washburn and Ashley Balcerzak,


  • New Jersey will run out of ICU beds to care for coronavirus patients within the next two weeks unless the public increases the practice of social distancing to historically unprecedented levels, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday. At the same time, dramatic measures are being taken to repurpose hospitals as critical care COVID-19 facilities while non-critical patients are transferred to field hospitals, nursing homes and even dormitories and hotels.


In the trenches: Gripping scenes from a hospital at war with the coronavirus

Kevin Coughlin, Morristown Green


  • Bergen County has been hardest hit in New Jersey by the coronavirus, and Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck is at the epicenter.


Jersey Could See Condom Shortage as Coronavirus Halts Production

Steve Trevelise, NJ1015


  • It’s possible that the toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortage we’re seeing now at the stores could turn into a home pregnancy test shortage in the coming months. According to the Guardian, a global shortage of condoms is looming after a coronavirus lockdown has forced the world’s biggest producer to shut down production.


Levine family prevails against Paterson Parking Authority in eminent domain case

Jayed Rahman, Paterson Times


  • The Paterson Parking Authority has lost its two-year long battle to take over the Levine family property through eminent domain. New Jersey appellate court judges Jose L. Fuentes, Jessica R. Mayer, and Catherine I. Enright delivered the latest defeat for the Paterson Parking Authority last Tuesday. The parking agency had appealed a previous adverse court ruling.


NJ company preparing to launch clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine

Rhonda Schaffler, NJ Spotlight


  • Johnson & Johnson says it will begin a Phase 1 clinical trial on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate this September. If it goes well, a vaccine could be approved for emergency use early next year. Freelance workers would be able to receive unemployment benefits under the new federal economic stimulus bill.


What’s in the $2 trillion stimulus package for New Jersey

Daniel Munoz,


  • The $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package, signed by President Donald Trump on March 27 amid the COVID-19 global pandemic and the resulting economic slump, will inject hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks, grants and other benefits for businesses that have been slammed by the outbreak.


Police: Drunk man spit on officers, told them ‘hope you all die of coronavirus’

Lori Comstock, NJ Herald


  • A 24-year-old man who police say was drunk while knocking on doors in a Morris County neighborhood while wearing a mask and gloves later spit on officers, telling him he hoped they all “catch coronavirus and die.”


Shore Medical offers all employees voluntary layoffs amid COVID-19 revenue crunch

Colt Shaw, Press of Atlantic City


  • Employees at Shore Medical Center received a letter Monday from Vice President of Human Resources Alan Beatty offering the option to take a voluntary layoff. It comes as the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has overwhelmed many health care facilities.


Coronavirus: Muhlenberg will not reopen as hospital, mayor now says

Suzanne Russell, Bridgewater Courier News


  • The former Muhlenberg Hospital will not be reopening to help treat patients in the wake of the statewide coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Adrian Mapp announced Monday in an update report.
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