Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing: 4/3/2020

Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing

Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 4/3/2020:


QUOTE OF THE DAY: We’re at the epicenter of our challenge.” – Senator Bob Menendez at a press conference in Bergen County


TOP STORY: Menendez, Booker, $82 Million, and at Least Six Feet Between Everything


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


As the statewide COVID-19 count climbed to 25,590 cases and 537 fatalities – an increase of 3,489 cases and 182 deaths in 24 hours, Governor Murphy and state officials held their daily COVID-19 briefing, with the Governor paying tribute to several New Jerseyans who succumbed to the virus, including Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, Hudson Corrections Officer Bernard Waddell, and Newark EKG Technician Kim Smith. ‘We’re all in this together‘, said Murphy, warning that the numbers will continue to rise over the next ‘really tough few weeks ahead of us, if not more than a few weeks’. State Police Colonel Callahan recounted several overnight incidents of residents violating the Governor’s executive order. Earlier in the day, the Governor and Senator Menendez toured the field medical station at the Meadowlands Expo Center. On CNN yesterday evening, Murphy said ‘we need our federal partners with us’, calling for an assessment of the federal response once the crisis itself is over. The Governor signed an executive order authorizing the commandeering of medical supplies and personal services to aid the state in the fight against COVID-19.


Senators Menendez and Booker held a press conference – practicing social distancing – in Bergen County yesterday to announce the first wave of stimulus funding to state, county, and local governments – $82M from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The NJDOL reports that unemployment applications surged to over 362,000 over the past two weeks; 155,618 in the first week and 206,252 over the last week. Nationwide, nearly 10M people have filed for unemployment over the past two weeks, according to NPR.


Atlantic County reported its first COVID-19 fatality on Thursday, and 11 additional cases, bringing its total to 52.


Bergen County reported 4,269 COVID-19 cases total as of Thursday.


Burlington County reported 2 COVID-19 fatalities and a total of 299 cases as of Thursday.


Camden County reported 48 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 350 cases. The county delivered over 4,000 meals to seniors on Wednesday, and encouraged residents to report price gouging by businesses.


Cape May County reported 16 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 49 as of Thursday.


Cumberland County reported a total of 34 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.


Essex County reported a total of 2,607 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.


Gloucester County reported 20 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 170 cases as of Thursday.


Hudson County reported 2,254 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. The NJSPBA mourned the passing of a Hudson Corrections officer due to COVID-19.


Hunterdon County reported a total of 131 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.


Mercer County has a total of 389 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. The county’s COVID-19 testing site has administered 266 tests since it opened on Tuesday.


Monmouth County reported a total of 1,482 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. The county launched a ‘Take Out Monmouth‘ initiative to assist restaurants.


Morris County reported a total of 1,105 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. The county announced the closure of the Great Swamp and Pyramid Mountain until April 12th.


Ocean County reported a total of 1,408 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday. The county announced that more shore towns are closing beaches and banning rentals. The county administered 448 COVID-19 tests at its testing site as of Wednesday; testing appointments will continue into next week.


Salem County reported 5 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 24 cases as of Thursday.


Somerset County reported a total of 515 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.


Union County Clerk Rajoppi will livestream the April 9th primary ballot drawing on Facebook. The county cancelled several April and May events as a precaution.


Warren County reported a total of 131 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.


Rep. Gottheimer announced the safe return of multiple CD5 residents who were stranded abroad. Gottheimer called for the rapid deployment of antibody tests.


Rep. Pascrell announced $14.6M in emergency COVID-19 housing grants in Passaic, Hudson, and Bergen Counties. Pascrell lauded the formation of the House Select Committee on Coronavirus Response.


Rep. Sherrill announced $7.9M in emergency COVID-19 Recovery grants for Essex, Morris, and Passaic Counties.


Rep. Smith announced $4.5M in CARES Act funding to CD4 counties and towns.


Rep. Kim called for the reinstatement of Navy Captain Brett Crozier. Kim helped 14 district residents who were stranded abroad return home.


ICYMI: Murphy: NJ ‘quintessential American state‘, cites ‘social solidarity‘, list of recent recent violations; Murphy’s lessons learned of leadership in crisis; April 1st Spanish language report and Spanish-language video; Murphy signed EO removing barriers for health professionals; Joe D tested positive, Fontoura tested positive; 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


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


NJTV is launching ‘NJTV Learning Live‘ broadcasts starting on Monday.


The Democratic Party postponed its national convention until August, according to


Jazz legend Bucky Pizzarelli, a mainstay of the Morristown Blues and Jazz Festival, died due to COVID-19, according to MorristownGreen.


In CD5, GOP primary candidate Frank Pallotta slammed the BCRO for awarding the line to John McCann, calling it a ‘backroom deal’ and a ‘unilateral decision’ by Chairman Zisa. Candidate Mike Ghassali suspended his campaign and endorsed McCann, according to SaveJersey.


Newark-based Project Ready launched a month-long video competition on the importance of voting.


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.


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


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


The NJ Department of Children and Families launched a emergency child care assistance program.


The NJEDA is launching the application process this morning for the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.


NJ Transit workers are fearful as the number of COVID-19 cases rise, according to the Bergen Record.


Senator Pennacchio released a letter from a group of doctors to Governor Murphy urging him to lift restrictions on the use of hydroxychloroquine as an early treatment of COVID-19; Pennacchio, an ardent advocate of HCQ, has said that ‘in my bone of bones, I think this works‘ and that the current system ‘makes no sense‘.


Senator Bucco called for the creation of the position of Business Advocate in the Governor’s Office.


Assemblyman Mukherji proposed legislation to ensure expectant mothers have access to a support person during labor.


The NJ Outdoor Alliance called on Governor Murphy to allow sporting goods stores to operate during the COVID-19 lockdown.


The Garden State Initiative released an analysis showing that legislators can avert a gas tax increase driven by emptier roads and lower gas prices.


The NJCPA highlighted tax savings for businesses and individuals through the CARES Act.


ICYMI: State moves state’s tax filing deadline and extends budget deadline; NJLOM appointed Cerra Executive Director; Jimenez tested positive;McManimon passed away; Murphy signed legislation to expand the paid family leave; NJEDA announced new initiatives


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


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.


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


Here are the COVID-19 figures in several key towns statewide, as of April 1st.
In Jersey City, the city launched a local relief program; the city has 902 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday.
In Hoboken, Mayor Bhalla reported a total of 152 COVID-19 cases in the city as of Thursday. The council passed an ordinance to prevent rent increases in rent-controlled buildings during the state of emergency.
In Teaneck, pharmacist Karen Lew Orgen is spearheading a Adopt-A-Senior program during the COVID-19 crisis. The Life Christian Church of NJ announced they are procuring food supplies to reopen the Teaneck Food Pantry.
In Trenton, employees at the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital say they are ‘terrorized’ by the CEO not taking the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing seriously, according to the Trentonian.
In Westwood, Stop and Shop will donate meals each day to Pascack Valley Medical Center.
In Caldwell, a middle school principal died due to COVID-10, according to the Bergen Record.
In Bernardsville, Councilman O’Dea tested positive for COVID-19, according to NJ Hills.
In Bridgeton, the police chief says crime is ‘down significantly‘ during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
In Paterson, the city is offering COVID-19 testing to police officers, according to the Paterson Press. As over 500 people test positive in the city, the Qatari consul general delivered 10k masks to the city, according to Paterson Times. Mayor Sayegh announced a police unit to enforce the stay-at-home order, according to Paterson Times.
In Bayonne, the city suffered its 8th COVID-19 fatality, and has 184 cases, according to Hudson County View.
In Princeton, a first aid and rescue squad member tested positive for COVID-19, according to Planet Princeton.
In Newark, Mayor Baraka launched the ‘Creative Catalyst Fund‘ for artists and art organizations impacted by COVID-19.
In Hillsborough, Mayor Tomson is considering a property tax extension, according to TAPinto.
In Garfield, an ex-aide says he was fired after a fight with a teacher, according to the Bergen Record.
ICYMI: Four-city effort to combat COVID; in Perth Amboy, Diaz issued statement on self-quarantine; in Hamilton, first COVID-19 fatality; 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


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Insider NJ columnist Mary Gatta writes ‘A Virus that Does Not Stop at State Borders‘ and ‘NJ’s Social Distancing Scorecard: We Have Some Work to Do


Insider NJ columnist and former Senator Kevin O’Toole writes ‘A Small Repayment to the Heroes Among Us


Insider NJ columnist Alan Joel Steinberg writes ‘CORONA – A Name Which Defined the Leadership of MARIO Cuomo, As Well as Andrew


Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes ‘NJ Medical Cannabis Patients renew Calls for Home Delivery


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 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)





Should you wear a mask to fight coronavirus? New Jersey officials weigh in

Lisa Broadt, Burlington County Times


  • State officials Thursday said they would not discourage residents from wearing homemade cloth masks, but said they didn’t plan to encourage the practice either. And, Gov. Phil Murphy stressed, the general population absolutely should not be using special protective equipment needed for people on the “front lines” of fighting the coronavirus.


N.J. right to die law for terminally ill patients survives latest court challenge

Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media for


  • A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the medical aid in dying law in New Jersey, stating the physician and pharmacist who filed the claim on religious grounds are not required to help people end their lives.


Coronavirus: Becton school district loses ‘relentless advocate for special needs students’

Katie Sobko,


  • As the number of deaths related to COVID-19 continue to grow throughout the area, one local school community is feeling the effects. Javiera “Javi” Rodriguez, 43, of Hudson County, died late Wednesday due to complications of COVID-19, the Becton Regional High School district announced Thursday.


Coronavirus in Monmouth: Social distance in parks or ‘I will shut it down’

Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park Press


  • Monmouth County leaders offered a stern warning to those using the county’s parks: Maintain the recommended 6-foot distances to prevent the spread of coronavirus or the parks will close. Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone said he is a strong proponent of outdoor activity, including the mental relief it can provide residents during the high stress times the county is facing.


‘We want to come home:’ Warren residents stranded on cruise ship amid pandemic

Alex Parker-Magyar, New Jersey Hills


  • They had been confined in their cabin for five days already when the captain’s voice came on the PA system. Four people were dead, the captain announced, two of whom had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.


Rodrick Votes No to Awarding Campaign Donors Pay to Play Contracts in Toms River

Shore News Network


  • The Toms River Township Council has voted to approve the dissolution of the in-house legal counsel team by means of a township ordinance to remove the town’s “Department of Law” and replace it with the “Division of Law”, which would allow Mayor Maurice “Mo” Hill to appoint political campaign donors to six-figure legal counsel contracts in the township.


Bon Jovi’s David Bryan Talks Surviving Coronavirus, Upcoming Tour

Steve Trevelise, NJ1015


  • David Bryan is a Jersey guy who’s putting a face on the coronavirus. The Bon Jovi keyboardist announced on Instagram March 21 that he had tested positive, came on my show Tuesday night to tell us how he’s doing: “A little better you know,” Bryan said when he called into my show. “It’s definitely a nasty virus you know and I’ve been doing a lot of press just trying to help calm the fear.


New pop-up hospital ready to relieve crowded COVID-19 ERs

Brenda Flanagan, NJTV


  • Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday toured the 250-bed medical station taking shape inside the Meadowlands Exposition Center, designed to play a key role in the state’s COVID-19 response by easing pressure on mainline hospitals as they begin to see an expected surge in patients needing critical care.


Delaware Water Gap closes more trails, but closed roads allow for social distancing

Sarah Cassi, For


  • The Delaware Water Gap on Thursday announced it was closing additional trails to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. All the trails on the Pocono Environmental Education Center campus will be closed starting Thursday, and all winter closures have been extended until May 22, the U.S. National Park Service announced.


Painted rocks, left-hand turns, and a call to be better

Jeff Edelstein, The Trentonian


  • One of my most indelible memories of the days and weeks following 9/11 was how easy it was to make a left-hand turn. There I’d be, sitting at a traffic light, left blinker on, and when the light turned green, the person opposite me – the person who was headed straight ahead, the person who 100% had the right of way – would wave me through.


How teachers are adapting to remote learning in South Jersey

Claire Lowe, Press of Atlantic City


  • Working from home and being a public school teacher are not necessarily synonymous, but since the closing of schools across the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators are attempting to make it work, however challenging it may be.


Coronavirus in NJ: ‘We’re owed a graduation,’ a rallying cry from high school seniors

Joe Strupp, Asbury Park Press


  • Mackenzie Horvath had high hopes for the last few months of her senior year at Jackson Memorial High School. The 17-year-old had a great job at Jackson Premium Outlets, she’d committed to Montclair State University for the fall, and she even had picked out her prom dress. Then the coronavirus hit.


Coronavirus: Piscataway front-line hero dies of COVID-19

Suzanne Russell, Bridgewater Courier News


  • Piscataway resident Kim King-Smith, an electrocardiogram technician who died Tuesday of the coronavirus, was publicly remembered Thursday by Gov. Phil Murphy during his daily COVID-19 press conference. “She was part of the University Hospital family for 13 years,” Murphy said.


In New Jersey, a quieter alternative to Cuomo leads the pandemic response

Matt Friedman, Politico


  • In a matter of hours last month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy went from dealing with the biggest personal health crisis of his life to overseeing the biggest health crisis his state has faced in more than a century.


How the coronavirus is shaping the 2024 presidential race

David Siders, Politico


  • Andrew Cuomo’s poll ratings are soaring. Jay Inslee is drawing more attention than his failed presidential campaign ever did. Gretchen Whitmer is burnishing her credentials as a possible running mate for Joe Biden.


Democracy in the COVID Era, Jersey style | Editorial

Star-Ledger Editorial Board


  • There is a statute in New Jersey known as the Sunshine Law, which gives the public the right to access hearings conducted by any committee, commission or council that performs a government function. Not surprisingly, the meetings that draw the most public participation are about toll hikes and fare hikes.


Endangering pedestrians to fight coronavirus? Walking bans should go by the boards | Mulshine

Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger


  • Nothing will guarantee that you don’t die of coronavirus quite like getting run over by a speeding pickup truck. I was struck with that thought as I dodged a pickup while crossing the street on the ocean block of Belmar the other day.


Tom Kean wants a commission to probe the COVID-19 crisis. He’ll even lead it | Kelly

Mike Kelly,


  • The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. But the quest for answers on why America was so unprepared has already begun. Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, who chaired the commission to examine the 9/11 attacks, wants to help find those answers with America’s latest crisis. He will turn 85 in less than three weeks. No matter, Kean says.


Coronavirus: Yes, young people, you are in danger, too | Lowry

Bruce Lowry,


  • On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that 28 students out of dozens from the University of Texas who took part in a spring break trip to Mexico a couple weeks back have tested positive for the coronavirus, and are self-isolating. The Times said dozens more are now under quarantine, and being monitored. How many ways can you spell “S-E-L-F-I-S-H?”


Anti-Semitism Is Alive and Well in Lakewood Even in a World Crisis (Opinion)

Judi Franco, NJ1015


  • If you’re tired of hearing me defend Lakewood Jews, imagine how tired I am of having to do it. But here we go again with another outrageous lie about the Jews in Lakewood. Yes, there are people in Lakewood who break the rules — much like the Tampa mega-church pastor, Rodney Howard Brown did last week when he refused to close his church.


Explainer: Is New Jersey ‘Flattening the Curve’ for COVID-19 Hospitalizations?

Jon Hurdle, NJ Spotlight


  • While social-distancing measures have been somewhat effective, officials say more critical-care beds, federal aid are essential to getting a handle on crisis.


Firetrucks, police cars bringing joy to birthday kids during the coronavirus shutdown

Sarah Cassi, For


  • If you hear a bunch of sirens and see a long line of firetrucks and police cars, it may not be an emergency, but a very important birthday.


LeBenger: How COVID-19 will be game-changer in health-care delivery

Tom Bergeron,


  • Summit Medical Group Chair and CEO Jeff LeBenger said SMG was ready for the COVID-19 outbreak. “We knew that this was coming,” he said. “We knew that this was going to get worse, so we prepared ourselves from Day One, where we had a procurement office start researching and looking for (Personal Protective Equipment) as well as test kits for the COVID-19 virus.” Because of that, LeBenger said SMG has had enough PPEs — it’s sharing with those in need — and quickly put in safeguards for patients and plans to help overtaxed hospitals.


Coronavirus: Union County town-by-town case breakdown hard to come by

Suzanne Russell, Bridgewater Courier News


  • Union County residents looking for a centralized town-by-town breakdown of coronavirus cases need to do a little digging. That’s because, unlike most neighboring counties, Union County has no single spot to find out the number of cases in each of the county’s municipalities.


Coronavirus in Ocean County: ‘Our hospitals are full right now,’ sheriff tells freeholders

Erik Larsen, Asbury Park Press


  • Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy has warned the Board of Freeholders that Ocean County’s four hospitals were seeing worrisome increases in patients as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. “There are people that are actually going to Philadelphia because our hospitals are full right now,” Mastronardy told the freeholders at their regular meeting Wednesday evening.


Coronavirus in Lakewood: Hundreds fed, but hundreds more wait as Latinx leaders seek help

Gustavo Martínez Contreras, Asbury Park Press


  • Township Latinx leaders called for more help for those suffering economic hardship because of the novel coronavirus. A day after delivering 350 boxes of food to families around Lakewood, Latinx volunteers said the need is bigger than anticipated. Their latest tally shows a waiting list of at least 450 families asking for help.
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