Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing: 4/9/2020

Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing

Below is Insider NJ’s Morning Intelligence Briefing for 4/9/2020:


QUOTE OF THE DAY: We have to tighten the ship up.” – Governor Phil Murphy on orders to close parks and for supermarket shoppers to wear masks


TOP STORY: Murphy Moves Primary Election Date to July 7th


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


As the state absorbed an increase of 3,088 COVID-19 cases and 275 fatalities, bringing the statewide total to 47,437 cases and 1,504 deaths, Governor Murphy and state officials held their daily COVID-19 briefing, during which the Governor announced that the state’s primary election will be moved from June to July 7th (a ‘poorly kept secret‘, he cracked; the announcement was widely expected by insiders) and ordered grocery retailers limit shoppers to 50% of store capacity and that all shoppers must wear protective face coverings and that employees wear masks and gloves. ‘We have to tighten the ship up’, said Murphy. When asked about whether county and state parks could be re-opened, Murphy said he doesn’t plan on revisiting the issue, noting that municipalities have discretion on whether to close their own parks, in a nod to Jersey’s home rule history. Noting that the COVID-19 curve is going up, Murphy said ‘we will get there, assuming all 9 million of us do our jobs, we will get there together. Not without casualty, not without mistake, and not tomorrow or next week’.


The park closures have become a focal point for some legislators. Senator Bateman called for the state to reopen them, joining a growing chorus of lawmakers and groups denouncing the closures. Assemblyman Webber started an online petition urging Murphy to re-open the parks. The LD24 legislators released a statement echoing Bateman’s call, as did the LD13 legislators. Assemblyman Parker Space on Tuesday evening wrote on Facebook that ‘I’ve about had enough!!‘ and the NJ Outdoor Alliance, who slammed the closures as ‘asinine, plain and simple’.


Governor Murphy’s chief counsel Matt Platkin tested positive for COVID-19, according to


AG Grewal and State Police Colonel Callahan issued the daily update on charges against violators of the Governor’s executive orders.


Atlantic County reported 17 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. County Executive Levinson refuted claims that the county isn’t being transparent in releasing town-by-town breakdowns of COVID-19 cases, saying ‘I have concerns about advertising this information, but others seemingly do not. It is pointless for us to continue to subject ourselves to this unnecessary criticism’; the county released a town-by-town breakdown as of Wednesday.


Bergen County Executive Tedesco urged residents to practice social distancing while celebrating Passover. Tedesco will announce changes to the county’s drive-thru testing site today.


Burlington County reported a total of 844 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. The county will hold its primary ballot drawing today via livestream.


Camden County reported 96 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. The county delivered over 26,000 meals to seniors since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Freeholder Nash mourned the passing of Steve Ravitz.


Cape May County reported a total of 111 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. The freeholders voted to ban short-tern rentals during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Cumberland County reported a total of 92 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.


Essex County reported a total of 5,565 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.


Gloucester County reported 22 new COVID-19 cases and 1 fatality on Wednesday.


Hudson County has 5,388 COVID-19 cases total as of Wednesday. The Corrections and Rehab Center has tested 10 ICE detainees since March 26th; 7 tested positive for COVID-19, 3 have recovered, and 4 were released.


Hunterdon County reported 277 COVID-19 cases total as of Wednesday.


Middlesex County released a town-by-town breakdown of 3,096 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday; the NJDOH cites 4,156 cases total as of Wednesday.


Monmouth County reported a total of 3,042 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. The county adopted a 452.8M budget.


Morris County reported a total of 2,449 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. The county will continue testing today and tomorrow at its COVID-19 site.


Ocean County reports 2,846 COVID-19 cases total as of Wednesday. The county urged residents to support local businesses and buy local during the COVID-19 crisis.


Somerset County reported 1,140 COVID-19 cases total as of Wednesday.


Sussex County reported a total of 355 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.


Warren County reported a total of 302 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday. The county opened its drive-thru COVID-19 testing site. The county is planning a series of blood drives.


HUD detailed the components of the $82M to be disbursed to the state.


Uber announced a donation of $350k in meals to state healthcare workers.


Senators Menendez and Booker urged congressional leaders to include funding for local journalism in any future COVID-19 relief package.


Senators Booker and Menendez and Rep. Pascrell announced the extension of school lunches into the summer for needy children. The three called on the FDA to heed science, not politics, in approving therapeutics for COVID-19.


Senator Booker introduced the ‘COVID–19 Correctional Facility Emergency Response Act’. Booker pressed Amazon on the treatment and safety of frontline warehouse workers. Booker and several colleagues urged international organizations to shut down live wildlife markets and ban international wildlife trade.


Rep. Norcross will join Camden County officials for a Facebook virtual town hall today.


Princeton University is freezing salaries and asking departments to cut non-essential spending in response to COVID-19, according to Planet Princeton.


Rutgers will lose $200M in revenue due to COVID-19, according to MyCentralJersey.


ICYMI: 4 new EOs: extending the public health state of emergency for another 30 days; ordering the closure of state and county parks; extending school district election deadlines; waiving requirements for 8th grade graduation; Murphy: ‘people should not be going door-to-door‘: Sherrill tested negative following husband’s positive test; NJ doctor describes COVID fight; state tops 1,000 fatalities; Pence praised Murphy; charges filed against violators; Murphy allows retirees to return to public work; Cape May opening testing center; Gloucester opening testing site; Sussex expressed disappointment w/ lack of fedearl funding; Gottheimer, Oroho pushing for more federal resources for Warren/Sussex; Murphy moment of silence; Murphy: ‘behave as though your positive‘; enforcement actions against violators; businesses violators; Cape May’s first COVID-19 fatality; Murphy: ‘we’re all in this together‘; Murphy authorizes commandeering of supplies; Senators announce first stimulus funding, $82M from HUD; NJ unemployment apps over 362,000; Murphy: NJ ‘quintessential American state‘, cites ‘social solidarity‘; Murphy’s lessons of crisis leadership; Murphy signed EO removing health professional barriers; Joe D tested positive, Fontoura tested positive; Guv hopes for SALT deduction restoration; gun stores can open; Murphy’s possible ‘Christie-Obama moment‘; Murphy sparred on gun store question


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Bernie Sanders suspended his presidential campaign for the Democratic nomination, clearing the path for former VP Joe Biden. Democratic Senate primary candidate Larry Hamm, who serves as Sanders NJ campaign co-chair, is soldiering on in his campaign, while praising Sanders for having ‘reached a peak’ and that the ‘whole damn system lined up against him‘.


Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Sulieman penned a letter to county committee members explaining the process for potentially moving the committee elections to next year, with a virtual meeting set for May 7th for a vote on the bylaws. Cape May County Democrats likewise are proposing a by-law amendment to extend county committee terms.


A Monmouth University poll finds President Trump’s job approval rating down as well as the approval of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 49% disapproving and 46% approving.


GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli penned a message on the COVID-19 crisis and Holy Week.


In CD3, GOP primary candidate John Novak dropped out of the race and endorsed David Richter. Maggie’s List endorsed candidate Kate Gibbs.


In CD5, Democratic primary candidate Arati Kreibich reiterated her call for an all-VBM primary election.


In CD11, Marine Major Nick DeGregorio will chair the Veterans for Becchi for GOP candidate Rosemary Becchi’s


ICYMI: Political battles being played out; Essex ClerkDurkin gave instructions for May elections; HPAE denounced firing of local prez; NJTV Learning Live; InsiderNJ/Latino Spirit Spanish-language reports; Spicer’s ‘virtual roundtable’ fundraiser for Kean; Larry Hamm on the campaign season; list of congressional primary candidates


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Senate President Sweeney discussed the COVID-19 impact on the state with Steve Adubato on State of Affairs (video).


Senator Rice will introduce legislation requiring hospitals to report COVID-19 demographic data to the NJDOH to pinpoint specific community impacts. The Institute for Social Justice and several other groups called on Governor Murphy to release demographic data on COVID-19 cases.


Senator Pennacchio said that the state’s rules on the use of hydroxychloroquine are hurting minority communities, citing a USA Today report that black individuals are overwhelmingly dying in cities across the nation; more doctors have been adding support to Pennacchio’s HCQ call, who says ‘in my bone of bones, I think this works‘. Pennacchio said yesterday that ‘no one should ever have to beg for their government to allow their doctors treat them’.


Senator O’Scanlon called on Governor Murphy to permit recently-graduated nurses and inactive EMS personnel to join the state’s COVID-19 efforts.


Assemblymembers Peters and Stanfield will introduce legislation requiring certain colleges to provide refunds for unused housing and meal plans due to COVID-19.


The AFL-CIO demanded Governor Murphy and the Legislature reform workers’ comp rules for workers infected with COVID-19.


NJDOH Commissioner Johnson joined healthcare groups and advocates to address options and protections available to residents during the COVID-19 crisis.


Make The Road NJ launched a platform detailing the steps NJ should take in protecting DACA recipients.


The NJ League of Conservation Voters, citing a Harvard study that finds people are more likely to die due to COVID-19 in counties with higher pollution rate, called for action on climate change, saying ‘without concerted action, things will continue to get worse’.


ICYMI: Karabinchak proposing property tax extension; Gopal raises funds for Monmouth PPE; state moves ax filing deadline, extends budget deadline; NJLOM appointed Cerra Executive Director; Jimenez tested positive; McManimon passed away; Murphy expands family leave


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


In terms of viewing the pandemic as a war, we can look at a few ways in which the modern concept of war was transformed and find parallels with the current crisis, and, perhaps, draw some guidance from them.


In one area, there is growing inconsistency between the state government and many of its towns and counties. There are some troubling signs that governments could be pushing the equilibrium we have now too far.


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 counts in key towns across the state as of April 8th.


In Newark, Mayor Baraka urged Newarkers to ‘get tough‘, saying ‘do push-ups instead of pointing fingers’.


In Paterson, the city is tracing those who have been in contact with Mayor Sayegh, who tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Paterson Press. The city urged residents to cooperate with Communicable Disease Strike Team.


In Trenton, the city’s mandatory 8pm curfew will remain in affect, according to Mayor Gusciora, despite Governor Murphy’s calling it a ‘recommendation’ rather than a mandate; Gusciora said ‘it’s still across the board. We’re dealing with a separate issue. The governor’s making an opinion. With all due respect, that wasn’t the language in our emergency declaration’, according to the Trentonian.


In Jersey City, the city has the most COVID-19 cases of any municipality in the state, at over 2,000, according to Hudson County View.


In Hoboken, Mayor Bhalla reported 4 new COVID-19 fatalities on Wednesday.


In Edison, Governor Murphy toured the field hospital, which will be opened on Saturday, according to TAPinto.


In Red Bank, residents railed against park closures at the video council meeting, according to TAPinto.


In North Bergen, the township reported 774 COVID-19 cases total as of Wednesday, according to Hudson County View.


In Bernards Township, the council may increase taxes in the budget, according to NJ Hills.


In Watchung, the town launched a food drive for residents in need, according to NJ Hills.


In South Plainfield, Democrats endorsed Doyon and Remming for council, according to TAPinto.


ICYMI: In JC, Yun passed away due to COVID-19; in Monroe, warehouse workers demanded better COVID protections; in JC, voluntary buyout separation package amid budget gap; in Hoboken, Bhalla says curtail outdoor activities; in AC, Thomas-Field won backing of AC Dems; in Morristown, Dougherty recommends masks; Paterson paid tribute to Dr. Pruden; four-city COVID effort; in Perth Amboy, Diaz statement on self-quarantine; in Hamilton, first COVID-19 fatality; Irvington’s unique position; in Hoboken, residents witnessed history as Comfort lowered anchor at Pier 90; in Teaneck, residents worship and close ranks across those fierce religious divides


Insider NJ's Morning Intelligence Briefing


Insider NJ columnist Jay Lassiter writes ‘COVID-19 and AIDS, Parallels/Differences + Sewing through Trauma


In a guest column on Insider NJ, NJPRA Executive Director Kimberley Higgs writes ‘The Invisible Health-force: Mental Health Workers on the Front Line


Insider NJ columnist Mary Gatta writes ‘2020: Stark Signs of a Different Summer at the Jersey Shore


In a guest column on Insider NJ, former Senator Lesniak writes ‘Coronavirus Highlights the Need for Greater Protections for Animals


In a guest column on Insider NJ, Assemblywoman Lopez writes ‘Communication is Key in Middlesex County’s Response to COVID-19


In a guest column on Insider NJ, Charles McKenna writes ‘Not So Fast: The Act Comes with a Sheriff


Insider NJ columnist Bob Hennelly writes ‘Risk and Reward in the Age of COVID-19: Be Wary of Federal Guidance


Insider NJ reporter Fred Snowflack writes ‘Ranking Economic Benefits Over Human Life is Offensive





City Strong: While staying apart in the outbreak, Burlington City is coming together

George Woolston, Burlington County Times


  • Officers and volunteers who deliver meals to residents have a first-hand look at how the coronavirus has impacted daily life in Burlington City.


Do I have to pay rent during coronavirus crisis? Can I be evicted? Here’s the latest for N.J. renters.

Sophie Nieto-Munoz, NJ Advance Media for


  • As thousands of people lose their income amid mass layoffs due to the coronavirus crisis, New Jersey residents are finding themselves in a financial bind, struggling to make mortgage and rent payments.


Trump forecasts better days for N.J. regarding the coronavirus. ‘It’s going to start to go in the other direction.’

Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media for


  • President Donald Trump’s latest message to New Jersey is this: You won’t have long to wait until you see a drop in coronavirus cases.


‘He didn’t know what was going on.’ Father dies alone in nursing home, unable to see his son

Jessie Gomez, Morristown Daily Record


  • Gerald Carlson was two weeks from his 88th birthday and didn’t understand the chaos that suddenly surrounded him. He didn’t know what coronavirus was or why he was being uprooted and moved out of his room at the CareOne nursing home in Hanover.


An unseen crisis: Coronavirus deaths mount at NJ nursing homes as virus spreads, staff dwindles

Lindy Washburn,


  • Residents at one nursing home cry in their rooms, vulnerable and afraid. Aides at another tape plastic sheets to their glasses as face shields, while protective gear is locked away. At a third, a nurse declares: “I’ve been exposed. My family is exposed. My co-workers are sick and dying.”


Low on money and volunteers, Teaneck ambulance crews struggle to keep up in coronavirus battle

Christopher Maag,


  • The white ambulance backed into the garage at 2:21 p.m., its red and blue and yellow lights still blazing. At 2:23 p.m., bells inside the garage began to buzz. Another possible coronavirus patient. Another emergency call. On Anna Street, a mile away, someone couldn’t breathe.


Trump forecasts better days for N.J. regarding the coronavirus. ‘It’s going to start to go in the other direction.’

Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media for


  • President Donald Trump’s latest message to New Jersey is this: You won’t have long to wait until you see a drop in coronavirus cases. “New Yorkers are tough and strong and brave, New Jerseyites are tough and strong and brave, and they’re being hit very hard right now,” Trump said at his daily coronavirus news conference at the White House on Tuesday evening.


‘He didn’t know what was going on.’ Father dies alone in nursing home, unable to see his son

Jessie Gomez, Morristown Daily Record


  • Gerald Carlson was two weeks from his 88th birthday and didn’t understand the chaos that suddenly surrounded him. He didn’t know what coronavirus was or why he was being uprooted and moved out of his room at the CareOne nursing home in Hanover.


Op-Ed: The COVID-19 Messages I Wish We Were Hearing

Robert Schwaneberg, NJ Spotlight


  • Do you wish this is what our president had told us months ago, when this pandemic was just hitting our shores? Does suddenly being told that COVID-19 could kill 240,000 of us motivate or paralyze you? With good reason, the campaign against this pandemic is being called a war. Whether or not it is fair to say truth has been one of the first casualties, context and perspective certainly have.


CarePoint foundation sets up COVID-19 relief fund to support health care workers

John Heinis, Hudson County View


  • The CarePoint Health Foundation has set up a COVID-19 relief fund to support health care workers during this pandemic, helping employees cover food costs and other day-to-day expenses.


N.J. makes example of Blairstown pub twice cited for allegedly ignoring coronavirus shutdown

Steve Novak, For


  • New Jersey is making an example of a Warren County pub accused of twice ignoring orders to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Financing in isolation

Martin Daks,


  • New Jersey venture capital activity has been healthy, but the COVID-19 pandemic could change that, at least temporarily, according to some experts. Besides spurring a pullback in new investments, the disease is driving venture capital and private equity communities to change the way they do business.


These Shore restaurants planned debuts for this March — and went through with it. What choice did they have?

Amy S. Rosenberg, Philadelphia Inquirer


  • For a year and a half, manager Amy Grabel and owner John Murphy worked to open their vision of a family-friendly pub and event space on Atlantic Avenue in Lower Chelsea called Ryfe.


Coronavirus: Was Murphy’s decision to close all state and county parks overkill? | Bergmann

Randy Bergmann, Asbury Park Press


  • In a column five days ago, I posed the question, “Should parks and beaches in NJ all be closed?” On Tuesday, Gov. Murphy gave his answer, at least the part pertaining to parks. Yes, all state and county parks should be closed, as well as all county and state beaches that are part of county and state park systems.


The #NotMeUs Movement Lives On

Archange Antoine,


  • We love Senator Bernie Sanders as a person — his character, integrity, and consistency. But of greater importance was his message and the eventual birth of the #NotMeUs movement.


Hoboken to hire special counsel for hospital transaction

Teri West, The Jersey Journal


  • Hoboken is planning to hire an outside attorney to assist in the sale of Hoboken University Medical Center. The special legal counsel would help facilitate discussions between owner CarePoint Health and RWJBarnabas Health — which hopes to purchase the facility — as well as guide officials as they consider new legislation to preserve the hospital’s existence, said city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri.


Ray of hope: Beloved Paterson doctor released from hospital after battle with coronavirus

Joe Malinconico, Paterson Press


  • In a ray of hope amid the COVID-19 crisis, an enormously popular physician, Dr. James Pruden, was released Tuesday from the hospital where he works, almost a month after he was diagnosed with the deadly virus.


Atlantic Health CEO: ‘We are in a forest fire right now’; cites concerns for Morristown

Kevin Coughlin, Morristown Green


  • The peak may come next week. “We are in the forest fire right now, and we don’t have a lot of tools to address the fire,” said Brian Gragnolati, CEO of the Atlantic Health System. During a half-hour webcast on Tuesday, Gragnolati said Morristown Medical Center and the other hospitals in the network have a critical need for protective gear as they brace for an imminent surge of coronavirus patients.


In New Jersey, People Are Using COVID-19 As a Weapon Against Police, Each Other

Shore News Network


  • Leave it to some residents of New Jersey to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a weapon against police officers and each other. Reports are streaming in daily from police departments statewide as violators continue coughing on police and each other. Here’s today’s COVID-19 Naughty List as provided by the NJ Office of the Attorney General.


COVID spread in nursing home is killing residents, affecting staff

Joanna Gagis, NJTV


  • In my mom’s unit, I think there are 21 people, and she is one of the last four who have not been tested. I don’t believe she has any symptoms that they would test her,” said Kelly Giacomelli. Giacomelli’s mom, Jane Zimmerman, is a resident at the Spring Hill Senior Community assisted living center in Park Ridge, where 18 out of 22 residents in the memory ward have been tested for COVID. One of those 22 have already died.


Offering heroes in the war with COVID-19 a home away from home

Michael Hill, NJTV


  • Mikhaila McLean was heading to her post on the frontlines of the battle with COVID-19. She’s an ER nurse at a local hospital. But it wasn’t her home she was leaving Wednesday morning. Instead, she and her husband, also a health care worker, have been staying at the Courtyard by Marriott in Montvale, one of several places offering accommodations for medical workers during the crisis.


NFI named Top 50 trucking company by Logistics Management

Emily Bader,


  • NFI, a supply chain solutions provider based in Cherry Hill, has been named one of the Top 50 Trucking Companies by Logistics Management. The annual list ranked the Top 50 less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload (TL) carriers by 2019 revenue. NFI ranked No. 23 in the TL category. Founded in 1932, NFI operates a high-tech fleet of more than 3,000 tractors and 12,500 trailers.


Construction joins COVID-19 restrictions list; exceptions for ‘essential’ projects

Daniel J. Munoz,


  • Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday said he is signing an order that will ban all “non-essential construction” starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, in the latest bid to clamp down on the COVID-19 global pandemic as it moves through New Jersey. The order would not extend to the construction of hospitals, schools, transportation such as for New Jersey Transit, utilities, affordable housing and emergency repairs where workers can somehow adhere to social distancing. All other construction would have to cease immediately, starting Friday evening.


Spreading the Word, not the virus

Jennifer Jean Miller, NJ Herald


  • With the prohibition of large-scale gatherings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many churches have found ways to worship virtually and plan to do so for Easter weekend.


A South Jersey couple created a massive sand sculpture to thank health-care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic

Erin McCarthy, Philadelphia Inquirer


  • From her South Jersey home, Laura Cimador-Gowdy watched in fear as the coronavirus ravaged her native Italy. Her relatives relayed grim messages about sick friends. Then, the pandemic hit the United States. Through it all, she could not stop thinking about the courage of health-care workers, who often sit with coronavirus patients as they die, in lieu of family members who are forced to stay away.
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