Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 4/2/2020:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The facts don’t support that. Period. Full stop. If the facts don’t support something, I don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about it.” – Governor Murphy responding to President Trump’s comments that the state got off to a ‘late start’ on COVID-19
TOP STORY: A War
As the statewide COVID-19 count climbed to 22,255 cases and 355 fatalities as of yesterday, Governor Murphy and state officials held their daily COVID-19 briefing, with the Governor saying ‘let their be no doubt about it, we are in for the fight of our lives’ while hailing New Jersey as the ‘quintessential American state‘. Murphy announced that the state will receive an extra 350 ventilators, on top of the 200 from earlier this week and urged those who can donate PPE to do so; he made a call to action for medical personnel to assist on the front-lines of fighting the pandemic. Citing ‘social solidarity‘, he maintained his efforts to get New Jerseyans to stay home, saying the overwhelming majority of residents are staying home, with a few trouble spots (later in the day, the AG’s Office released a list of recent violations of the Governor’s executive order and warned residents that if they threaten LEO with COVID-19, they will be charged to the fullest extent of the law). Noting that he himself as been practicing social distancing and staying home, Murphy evoked World War II and Churchill, citing the lessons learned of leadership in crises. On a more basic level, State Police Colonel Callahan related a personal story: having to tell his daughter that her June wedding would have to be postponed.
Read the Spanish-language report of the briefing by Latino Spirit.
The NJDOH updated its emergency influenza plan in 2015, predicting a devastating impact on the state if it were to get hit by a disease similar to the Spanish flu a century ago, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Bergen County reported a total of 3,708 COVID-19 cases and 75 fatalities across all 70 towns as of Wednesday.
Burlington County reported a total of 262 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday; Willingboro has the highest case count, with 39.
Camden County reported an additional 59 COVID-19 cases and 2 more fatalities Wednesday, bringing its total to 301 cases. The county’s MUA urged residents not to flush disposable wipes and paper towels down toilets, as it will put the sewer system at risk.
Cumberland County reports a total of 29 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.
Essex County reported a total of 2,220 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. County Executive DiVincenzo tested positive for COVID-19; Sheriff Fontoura tested positive earlier this week. Freeholder Director Gill penned a letter to residents on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mercer County has 333 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.
Monmouth County reported a total of 1,307 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.
Morris County has 942 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, according to the NJDOH; the freeholder board said that April will ‘likely be the critical time period‘ in combating COVID-19.
Ocean County reported a total of 1,256 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, with Lakewood hitting 450 cases alone. The Health Department directed residents to contact local police departments regarding social distancing enforcement measures. Freeholder Director Vicari requested Governor Murphy postpone any decisions on toll increases. The county advised that homebound elderly residents are in need of assistance.
Salem County reported 3 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 19 cases.
Somerset County reported a total of 446 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.
Sussex County reported 28 new COVID-19 cases and 2 fatalities on Wednesday, bringing the total count to 165 cases.
Union County added a second telemedicine line to contact its COVID-19 testing site.
Warren County reported a total of 107 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.
Senator Menendez and Rep. Pascrell led the NJ and NY congressional delegations in pushing the federal government to expedite CARES Act funding to hospitals and healthcare providers.
Senator Booker blasted the Trump Administration’s decision to reject a special open enrollment period for health coverage.
Rep. Pascrell demanded the Trump Administration stop the delay of any relief checks sent to Americans, including to veterans and seniors.
Rep. Gottheimer hosted a tele-town hall for CD5 residents on COVID-19.
A WalletHub survey finds 87% of businesses say they are hurting due to COVID-19.
ICYMI: A deadly day; Guv hopes for SALT deduction restoration; Camden opening testing site; Mercer testing site soft opening; Ocean closing parks and natural lands; Murphy: state needs more ventilators; latest slew of EO violations; announced updates to essential business list; after confrontations, Murphy says firearms retailers allowed to operate; Murphy’s possible ‘Christie-Obama moment‘ with Trump; officials created federal-state COVID-19 task force; two additional COVID-19 cases in Bergen Jail; Essex Sheriff Fontoura tested positive; 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 is partnering with the Latino Spirit for Spanish-language versions of crisis news stories as well as Governor Murphy’s daily COVID-19 briefings.
Insider NJ reader Judy submitted a list of things people can do while quarantined at home.
ICYMI: In CD7, Spicer’s ‘virtual roundtable’ fundraiser for Kean; Larry Hamm on the campaign season amidst COVID; list of congressional primary candidates; no contested GOP or Democratic primaries in Morris races; in CD2, Harrison blasted Kennedy over cancellation of the Ocean Dems’ CD2 line; Progressive Dems running slate in Union; Sussex Dems endorsed candidate; 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
Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, and Speaker Couglin announced an agreement to move the state’s tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15th and extend the state’s budget deadline to September 30th. The NJBIA applauded the announcement.
Senate President Sweeney applauded Horizon’s granting of extensions for premium payments and refraining from coverage cancellations during the COVID-19 crisis.
Senator Pennacchio, an ardent advocate of hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment, says ‘in my bone of bones, I think this works‘. Pennacchio says the state’s treatment system ‘makes no sense‘ and urged the state to ‘unshackle’ doctors.
Senator Doherty commended the Warren Hills Robotics Club for their commitment to build 10,000 PPE face shields.
Senator Holzapfel and Assemblymen McGuckin and Catalano joined with the State Troopers Fraternal Organization for a PPE equipment drive.
The NJ League of Municipalities appointed Michael Cerra as its new Executive Director, succeeding Michael Darcy.
Senato Oroho and Assemblyman Wirths and Space reminded small business owners about SBA loan programs.
Environmental groups sent a letter to the 54 municipalities with plastic bag bans urging them to keep the ban.
In one area, there is growing inconsistency between the state government and many of its towns and counties. And it involves – of all things – fishing.
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.
In Newark, Mayor Baraka committed $1M to provide relief for homeowners and first-time buyers during the COVID-19 crisis; earlier this week, Baraka and the mayors of Irvington, Orange, and East Orange jointly announced a four-city effort to combat COVID, organized into four operations: Lockdown, Clean Business, Wipedown, and Mobile Wellness Checks.
In Jersey City, Mayor Fulop reported there are 820 COVID-19 cases total in the city as of Wednesday, a number that’s higher than 23 states in the nation.
In Edison, Mayor Lankey urged residents not to dump PPE trash at supermarket parking lots, calling it ‘simply unacceptable’.
In Westfield, Mayor Brindle defended her decision to close parks, according to TAPinto.
In Trenton, the city’s COVID-19 case count nearly doubled yesterday with 37 new cases, according to the Trentonian.
In Paramus, Trader Joe’s closed following a positive test among its employees, according to the Bergen Record.
In Plainfield, Mayor Mapp reports 108 total COVID-19 cases as of yesterday, according to TAPinto.
In Bayonne, the city suffered its 6th fatality due to COVID-10, according to Hudson County View.
In Paterson, COVID-19 cases jumped 47% in 24 hours, with 376 cases as of Tuesday, according to Paterson Times.
In Lakewood, six rabbis died due to COVID-19, according to ShoreNewsNetwork.
In New Milford, five residents of a nursing home died due to COVID-19, and 16 tested positive, according to the Bergen Record.
In Bloomfield, 8 police officers tested positive for COVID-19, according to NorthJersey.com.
In Atlantic City, Mayor Small wants the NBA playoffs to take place at Boardwalk Hall, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In Toms River, the budget increases taxes and includes $800k to combat COVID-19, according to the Asbury Park Press.
In Montclair, Garden State Equality endorsed council candidate Peter Yacobellis.
In Ventnor, the BOE introduced a slimmer budget, according to the Press of Atlantic City,
ICYMI: In Passaic, NJFMBA mourned passing Tolentino; Cape May mayors tell non-residents to stay away; Irvington’s unique position w/ BOE and council races in May; in Union Twp, Florio calls for suspension of campaign lawn signs; in Carteret, Mayor Reiman tested positive; in Hoboken, residents witnessed history as USNS Comfort lowered anchor at Pier 90; in Elizabeth, Little irunning for council; in Teaneck, residents worship and close ranks across those fierce religious divides; in Jersey City, Lavarro tested positive, Yun ‘on oxygen‘; in Hoboken, closure of city parks; in Livingston, Isherwood passed away
In a guest column on Insider NJ, Steven Goldstein writes ‘Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mikie Sherrill and Consensus Progressivism: The Future of the Democratic Party‘
Insider NJ columnist Carl Golden writes ‘An Unforced Error by Ciattarelli as Murphy Shows Leadership‘
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‘
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?‘
AROUND THE WEB:
Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY
- A second version of Super Tuesday is shaping up in June, as states across the country adjust their voting plans in the face of coronavirus.Super Tuesday is traditionally the day in a presidential primary when the most delegates are up for grabs.
Ian T. Shearn, NJ Spotlight
- Active nurses, student nurses and retired nurses — including a state assemblywoman — are volunteering to go where needed, from critical care to pop-up hospitals.
David M. Zimmer, NorthJersey.com
- The coronavirus outbreak has rapidly wrought a massive change in how people live, and few places have reflected the shift like the supermarket. From massive runs on toilet paper to triple-digit percentage increases on downloads for apps running online shopping services, grocery stores are simultaneously seeing a resurgence and an evolution.
Steve Janoski, NorthJersey.com
- The quarantine signs some local police departments have asked coronavirus patients to put on their front doors are unnecessary and could lead to a backlash against those suffering from the disease, the Bergen County Prosecutor said in a directive banning the requests.
Dennis Malloy, NJ1015
- Like much of the Constitution of the U.S., Governor Murphy hates the 2nd Amendment. So much so, he pretty much admitted it last week during one of his daily press briefings when asked about closing gun stores in New Jersey. He said he believes “guns should be in the hands of trained professionals”, like the state troopers that protect him wherever he goes. He calls it a “philosophical disagreement”.
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, Down Beach
- Although there may be fewer residents on the streets these days, a corner of the North Beach universe is a little brighter.Volunteers of the North Beach Residents Association has completed its early spring planting consisting of pansies and daffodils in a surfboat at the northeast corner of Ventnor and Nashville avenues, across the street from its original location.
Tom Bergeron, roi-nj.com
- The stress of trying to treat the greatest pandemic in a century — one that had made his hospital, Holy Name Medical Center, the epicenter of the outbreak — was one thing. And it was the reason CEO Mike Maron was working around the clock, doing whatever he could to not only care for patients, but warn the state that COVID-19 was real. The anxiety of what came next was even worse.
- Governor Phil Murphy is at it again. This time it’s the Atlantic City Expressway and South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) toll hike hearings. I’ve said again and again since late February – the Governor’s intentional lack of transparency on this issue is offensive.
John Heinis, Hudson County View
- A former Jersey City official who pleaded guilty to accepting a $300 bribe back in November 2017 won’t be able to collect his pension after the appellate court upheld a previous ruling on Monday.
Jeremy Roebuck and Chris Palmer, Philadelphia Inquirer
- At the Pike County Correctional Facility, a contraband economy has sprung up around limited supplies of soap. Fights have broken out between prisoners in Montgomery County over phone time since the state prisons banned visitors.
Alex Biese, Asbury Park Press
- The coronavirus pandemic has changed life for all of us, with no one certain of what the next day, or even the next hour, may bring. In New Jersey, our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community has found itself particularly hard-hit by the the economic, mental and emotional impact of COVID-19.
William Westhoven, Morristown Daily Record
- At least five teachers, a guidance director and four maintenance staff members may be cut from the Mountain Lakes School District to close a $1.5 million budget shortfall.
Samantha Marcus and Brent Johnson, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
- Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday he’s not yet considering laying off any state workers in New Jersey, even as much economic activity comes to a halt and tax revenues dwindle in response to the coronavirus.
Alex Biese, Ilana Keller and Scott Fallon, NorthJersey.com
- Adam Schlesinger of New Jersey pop-rock band Fountains of Wayne has died of coronavirus complications. Schlesinger, 52, who grew up in Montclair, died Wednesday morning, April 1, Variety reported Wednesday evening.
Charles Stile, Trenton Bureau
- Coronavirus has converted Phil Murphy into a close the border hard-liner. The liberal New Jersey governor, who daily invokes a “One New Jersey family” slogan of solidarity and inclusiveness, now wants to keep “the lowest common denominator” from traveling into the Garden State.
Charles Stile, NorthJersey.com
- For nearly 14 years, the ratings-obsessed Donald Trump got to rewrite the script of his reality TV show to shape his preferred outcome. As president, Trump is rewriting — on live TV each night — the script of his own management on the coronavirus outbreak to save his political hide.
LA Parker, The Trentonian
- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy appeared on WFAN’s “Moose and Maggie Show” Tuesday morning which played in my car during a trip back to Trenton from Asbury Park beach. It’s a ghost town except for a few joggers who moved down Ocean Ave. near Second Ave. Asbury Park government officials closed the boardwalk last week. Posted signs noted “Asbury Park Boardwalk Closed until further notice.
Bill Spadea, NJ1015
- Politics in America typically involve two sides digging in on their respective positions and then meeting somewhere in the middle. Sadly, due to the overwhelming panic among many people and politicians scared of the coronavirus, largely based on out-of-context numbers and sensational reporting, we have tilted severely to one side and are very far from the middle.
Nanette LoBiondo Galloway, Down Beach
- Although some might feel a somewhat false sense of security in the Downbeach area due to lack of specific numbers being reported in daily updates from Atlantic County, the best advice anyone can give is to assume you have the virus and just stay home so you don’t give it to someone else.
Stacey Burling, Philadelphia Inquirer
- In a move meant to preserve hospital beds for sicker patients, the New Jersey Department of Health this week told nursing homes they cannot turn down a new medically stable admission just because the patient has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
Matt Rooney, SaveJersey
- If you’re stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Save Jerseyans, you’ve probably watched (or planned to watch) Netflix’s surprise hit one-off series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”
Raven Santana, NJTV
- Residents of four cities in Essex County — now second in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey — are being told to stay home or face fines and other penalties, as part of a stepped-up crackdown launched Tuesday by the mayors of Newark, Orange, East Orange and Irvington.
Daniel J. Munoz, njbiz.com
- Beginning Friday at 9 a.m., thousands of businesses across the Garden State that have been financially hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing mass closures will have the opportunity to get at least some relief from the state. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s $5 million grant program will go live then, and the application will be live for a whole week.
Eric Obernauer, NJ Herald
- Despite entering its third week of a government-ordered shutdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, township officials have confirmed that Mountain Creek is continuing to make good on all its tax and sewer payment obligations to which it agreed under its bankruptcy settlement with the township and county last August.
Michael McGarry, Press of Atlantic City
- Lauren Mulholland celebrated her 30th birthday with friends on the banks of the Tennessee River on Monday night. The Wildwood Crest native endured cancer and a double lung transplant to make it to that celebration.
Michelle Brunetti Post, Press of Atlantic City
- In the first of three electronic public hearings on toll increases for the Atlantic City Expressway on Wednesday, union officials expressed support for the increases, while road users opposed both the toll increases and holding the hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jessie Gomez, Morristown Daily Record
- Five fire trucks blared their horns and rang the sirens as they rushed to the home of an unsuspecting boy on his 3rd birthday. Morristown Fire Capt. Philip Barter, his wife Christina, an ICU nurse at Morristown Medical Center, and their four children have been in isolation since Christina tested positive with COVID-19.
William Westhoven, Morristown Daily Record
- Police Chief Andrew Miller has no playbook to defend against the coronavirus pandemic. But so far, the audibles being called by emergency responders in Morris County’s largest town are keeping his team “ahead of this thing.”
Ken Serrano, Asbury Park Press
- The Murphy administration ratcheted up pressure Wednesday in tamping down illegal gatherings in Lakewood. Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced at the state’s daily press briefing a “partnership to supplement” Lakewood’s efforts to “ensure 100% compliance” with Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive stay at home order.