Senate Poised for Assembly Chamber Appearance, with COVID-19 Logistics Hanging Over Session

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Sources continue to express bewilderment and gallows irony about public officials’ insistence on cramming tables and stages to lecture the public about avoiding one another and maintaining social distancing.

There are more than a few well-educated jitters too among members of the state senate puzzled over why they should show up in Trenton on Thursday for a session numbering 40 members, which flies in the face of a federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) entreaty for ten and under congregations only in the time of COVID-19.

Sources close to the organization of the session – and at least one caucusing member – argue that the voting is slated for the assembly (not the senate) chamber in the interest of keeping the senators farther apart from one another.

They point out that members will only be required to show up, vote, and leave.

But on the eve of the session, a source confirmed the possibility of a last minute logistical look-see – as needed.

“We may adjust on [the] fly,” the source said.

But people are still working.

Government needs to function.

Moreover, the idea about 10 has to do with keeping people far apart, and the senate is accomplishing that, the source argued.

Still, one senate source concerned about even the functionality of the assembly chamber, particularly since some members are old and vulnerable to COVID-19, suggested a plan to isolate senators in different rooms at the statehouse and intercom their votes in during the session.

“You’re either going to take this stuff seriously, or you’re not,” the source said. “I respect the virus.”

The source aknowledged the rather weird daily sight of Governor Phil Murphy alone at a table during his scheduled briefing sessions, while his cabinet of experts sit bunched together at a table to one side, providing detailed and helpful insights into public protections – and seemingly oblivious to violating the foundational six-foot distance rule.

People – including senators – still want to cowboy through this crisis, the source added.

Contacted at his office today, state Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) said he was bringing in vacuum cleaners to clean the carpets in his office, in part to demonstrate to staffers that they shouldn’t nurse trepidations about treading in their usual work digs.

State Senator Troy Singleton (D-7), however, said he was tailoring work details to err on the side of fulfilling functions remotely.

 

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