Coronavirus Updates: Rate of spread slowing across New Jersey, Murphy says

New York News
NEW JERSEY (WABC) — Governor Phil Murphy announced 1,985 new positive COVID-19 test results Friday, bringing the statewide total to 135,454. There were also 162 new deaths, raising the state death toll is to 8,952.

The governor said the rate of spread is slowing across the state, and as of Thursday night, there were 4,605 COVID-19 patients in New Jersey hospitals — a decrease of 1,000 from last Friday.

Additionally, the number of patients reported in either critical or intensive care and the use of ventilators both continue to decrease.

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MAY 8, 2020

NJ child dies of COVID-19 complications
New Jersey Health Comissioner Judy Persichilli announced Friday the death of a child who had an underlying medical condition. Governor Phil Murphy said the child was 4 years old.

“That precious 4-year-old, it’s unfathomable, is the first fatality of anyone in the state from COVID-19 related complications under the age of 18,” Murphy said.

2 sites to provide tests to asymptomatic residents, field medical station to close
Governor Phil Murphy said Friday that the COVID-19 testing sites at Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center will now provide tests to asympomatic New Jersey residents. Testing will be prioritized for health care workers and first responders, personnel in congregate living settings and residents who have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. Residents are asked to contact a health care provider before seeking testing. The governor also said the Field Medical Station at the Meadowlands Expo Center will close over the weekend. Its operations will transfer to East Orange General Hospital.

Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council
Governor Phil Murphy announced Friday he signed an executive order to create the governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council which he says will bring together leaders from various industry, community, and faith-based groups and institutions across the state to work in conjunction with the Restart and Recovery Commission.

National Guard headed to NJ nursing homes, Andover facility fined
New Jersey is sending 120 members of the National Guard this weekend to nursing homes hit hard by the coronavirus to help staff members, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday, though their exact role remains unclear.

The troops will first go to the state’s biggest home, in Andover, that became so overwhelmed by COVID-19 deaths at one point that it began using what Murphy called a “makeshift morgue.” The development came the same day federal health authorities fined the facility $220,000.

New vehicles pile up at Port Newark
NewsCopter 7 was over Port Newark in New Jersey, one of the biggest ports in the U.S. for imported vehicles. The Port Authority says deliveries from the facility are down 25 percent from this time last year.

Parks in Hoboken and some Jersey shore beaches reopen
Several parks will reopen to the public in Hoboken Friday, and plans are in the works to reopen some Jersey shore beaches. The parks opening in Hoboken include the waterfront park along Sinatra Drive facing New York City.

Passaic firefighter remembered
On this First Responder Friday, meteorologist Amy Freeze honors the memory of Passaic Firefighter Israel Tolentino, Jr., who lost his life about a month ago in the fight against COVID-19.

Hoboken antibody testing
Hoboken will begin offering antibody testing for first responders and frontline workers Friday.

MAY 7, 2020

‘Best Mother’s Day ever’: Mom meets daughter after coming out of coma from COVID-19
A woman in New Jersey met her baby for the very first time Thursday after going into a coma while battling COVID-19.

Donna Molina first met her baby girl more than a month after she was born. Harley was born April 2 and Thursday was their first meeting face to face because Molina had to battle and overcome coronavirus first.

NJ yoga instructor donates food for frontline workers fighting COVID-19
A New Jersey yoga instructor is doing her part to help local merchants stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses from around the country have found a home away from home at a Bergen County hotel. For the last month and a half, the staff at the Courtyard by Marriot in Montvale, and the local community have made sure frontline workers wouldn’t have to worry about getting a hot meal.

Key indicators continue to slowly improve
Governor Phil Murphy said there were 252 new deaths for a total of 8,801 and 1,827 additional positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 133,635.

Hospitalizations and ICU patients have both continued to decrease, Murphy said. Hospitalizations dropped to 4,996 – below 5,000 for the first time in several weeks – as the rate of spread continues to slow across the state.

Murphy said cases of the virus continue to migrate south, to central and southern New Jersey, while the situation in the north continues to slowly improve.

NJ Unemployment
The Department of Labor has received more than 1 million claims. They have paid more than $1.9 billion in unemployment assistance. Residents that need to apply for unemployment or look for work can visit:

NJ National Guard
The New Jersey National Guard is sending 120 soldiers to long-term care facilities beginning this weekend. They are guard members that are not currently assigned to a job.

Newark details COVID-19 contact tracing program
Newark on Thursday detailed its new contact tracing program as New Jersey’s largest city looks to stop the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Nearly 300 volunteers have been trained by Mayor Ras Baraka’s Contact Tracing Task Force to telephone residents suffering from the virus and their families to investigate with whom they had contact, both before and after becoming infected.

MAY 6, 2020

Hoboken launches Open Street pilot program
Hoboken is launching its own “Open Street” pilot program this weekend to allow for better social distancing.

Jefferson Street will be closed to traffic between 3rd Street and 11th Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

NJ artist makes art to raise money for COVID relief
SeekOneArt is known for his street art and he’s using his talents to give back to the community.

Fake letter warning
The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security is warning of a false letter/press release with joint seals of federal and State agencies stating New York residents cannot enter New Jersey starting May 10 due to coronavirus. No such order exists.

Long-term care facility review team
The numbers of positive cases and deaths connected to long term care facilities continues to grow. Governor Murphy said that he is bringing on a nationally experienced team of experts to help the state tackle the challenges at those facilities to help protect staff and residents. Leading this team are Cindy Mann, a 30-year expert in health policy and former Deputy Administrator at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama; and Carole Raphael, the Former Chief Executive Officer & President of Visiting Nurse Service of NY, and former AARP Board Chair.

Murphy announces more testing
There are 122 COVID-19 testing sites across the state of New Jersey. Governor Murphy said 31 sites which are either publicly run or open to the general public can be located at He urged people to reach out to their doctors to find the testing site closest to them.

Newark opens testing site for residents
Newark is now offering coronavirus testing to city residents at the Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Rink. The site, which opened Wednesday, will see residents from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the rink, located at 7th and Clifton avenues.

5,000th patient goes home
Hackensack Meridian Health celebrated the 5,000th COVID-19 discharge across its hospitals.

MAY 5, 2020

Hoboken to reopen select parks beginning Friday
The city of Hoboken is moving forward with a plan to gradually reopen select city parks beginning on Friday. On Tuesday, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the Office of Emergency Management announced the first phase of a gradual reopening of Hoboken municipal and county parks which will take effect on Friday, May 8.

The mayor said he based the decision on the recent data demonstrating a downward trend in new, confirmed cases, and the important benefits of outdoor activities on mental health.

Cemetery guidelines
The Archdiocese of Newark is issuing new guidelines for its Catholic cemeteries. Starting Sunday, and every Sunday thereafter, the cemeteries will be open for visitation from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Starting next Monday a maximum of 10 family members will be permitted to attend burial services. Currently, only two are allowed. Masks will be required to enter the cemeteries and people are asked to practice social distancing.

Emergency food distribution
An emergency food distribution site opened in East Rutherford on Tuesday. The food drive attracted a long line of people who have found themselves struggling financially during the COVIED-19 crisis.

Path stations closing overnight
PATH announced they will be closing the 9th Street and 23rd Street stations overnight from midnight to 5 a.m. starting Wednesday, May 6. The temporary station closures will remain in effect through the duration of the emergency orders. PATH riders on the Journal Square – 33rd Street line can access PATH via the Christopher Street, 14th Street, or 33rd Street stations, which will continue to operate 24 hours a day unless otherwise noted.

Paterson principal death
Gov. Murphy paid his respects Tuesday to the principal of Paterson’s Eastside High School Dr. Gerald Glisson, who died of COVID-19.

Temporary medical emergency licenses program
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs will begin standing up a program to grant temporary emergency licenses to recent graduates of nursing, physician assistant, pharmacy and respiratory care therapy programs who have not yet been able to take and pass their licensing exams, Gov. Murphy said Tuesday.

School aid payment
Gov. Murphy announced the state will be able to make the next school aid payment of $467 million — which will go out on Friday — because of the new federal flexibility from the CARES Act.

MAY 4, 2020

9/11 hero who helped pilot NJ ferries passes away from COVID-19
Luis Fernando Marulanda came to the United States from Colombia when he was 22 years old. He was a longtime employee of NJ Transit and NY Waterway. He helped pilot the ferries that shuttled residents back home across the Hudson River on 9/11.

Newark police officer loses battle with coronavirus
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted “Michael Conners Sr. had three loves: family, cars, and work. He proudly served the people of Newark as a police office for 26 years. On behalf of our state, we thank him for his selfless service and we keep the whole Conners family in our prayers.”

Ridgewood 4th of July fireworks canceled
The Ridgewood Fourth of July Committee and the Village of Ridgewood announced that they will cancel the 110th annual Fourth of July Parade and the evening entertainment and fireworks display due to COVID-19 health concerns.

Artist with autism makes balloon creations for essential workers
A balloon artist from New Jersey has been making thank you creations for essential workers in his community.

Eddie Lin, 22, was diagnosed with autism when he was 3, which is why he’s known as the ‘Ausome Balloon Creator.’ The Edison, New Jersey, resident is taking requests from family members of essential workers to create balloon art for their loved ones.

Hackensack teacher hands out groceries to families in need
One New Jersey teacher is working to ensure that families have food in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Schools stay closed
Governor Phil Murphy has announced New Jersey schools will remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Schools have been closed since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers have been required to conduct remote instruction since then and that will continue.

Newark begins testing homeless population
Newark began testing its homeless population for COVID-19 Monday and has accommodations ready to quarantine anyone who tests positive. The testing is being conducted at an airport hotel with which the city partnered last month as part of the Mayor Ras Baraka’s $1 million investment in rapid, short-term housing for Newark’s most vulnerable residents.

Expanded testing
New Jersey will start testing people for coronavirus whether they have symptoms or not on Monday. Appointment based testing will take place at sites in Jersey City and Bergenfield.

Newark Penn Station cleaning
Newark’s Penn Station closed overnight for a through deep cleaning of trains and the entire station to ensure the safety or riders and NJ Transit workers.

MAY 3, 2020

Anti-Asian graffiti found spray-painted outside NJ home
Disturbing graffiti was found in New Jersey with hateful words toward Asian people. Police say security cameras caught a bald man in dark-colored clothing writing the graffiti in the driveway.
Teen from NJ creates virtual pen pal program for sick kids
Sarah Schneider’s grandmother, Estelle Slon, is full of riddles, and she shares them in emails to sick children forced into isolation as they undergo treatment for cancer, blood disorders and other dire illnesses.

Fifteen-year-old Sarah in Maplewood, New Jersey, thought up the idea in a Zoom session with her school’s social justice club after they were sent home for remote learning in the coronavirus crisis.

NJ highway signs draw criticism, praise for referring to some as ‘knuckleheads’
Signs reading “Don’t be a knucklehead, keep a safe distance” along New Jersey’s highways drew both criticism and praise from drivers across the state.

Governor Phil Murphy has regularly used the term “knucklehead” to refer to people disregarding social distancing recommendations, stay at home orders and other restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

7 Northeast states join forces, forming a regional team to purchase PPE
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are launching a regional purchasing consortium to jointly procure PPE, tests, ventilators and other medical equipment. This will increase the market power and help prevent price-gouging, NY Gov. Cuomo said.

Murphy: 53 NJ hospitals to share $1.7 billion in federal aid
Dozens of hospitals in New Jersey that have been treating coronavirus patients will be getting a large cash infusion from the federal government, which is providing billions of dollars to hospitals hardest hit by the pandemic.

Transit station hours
New Jersey transit authorities say Newark Penn Station will be closed for several hours overnight for cleaning to protect customers and employees amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Sunday until further notice, the station will close from 11 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. “to allow for a daily deeper cleaning and disinfection,” officials said. Newark Penn Station will reopen daily at 4:30 a.m., officials said.

MAY 2, 2020

A close eye on reopened parks
Murphy had called this weekend a “huge test” for New Jersey with parks and golf courses reopening.

So far, officials are keeping a close eye: “If we hear minimal reports of knucklehead behavior at our parks, then we know you all have taken to heart your responsibility to help us mitigate this pandemic,”
Murphy said.

He said he would not hesitate to shut parks down again if social distancing violations are widespread.

“If those reports are followed by spikes in the numbers of new cases and increases in the spread of COVID-19 over the next two weeks, then that action would be justified,” he said.

Federal support for hospitals
Fifty three hospitals in New Jersey will receive $1.7 billion in direct federal assistance, the governor said Saturday.

NJ parks, golf courses reopen under clear skies
New Jersey reopened its state parks and golf courses at sunrise Saturday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic prompted their closure early last month.

State officials have placed a few conditions placed on the reopening: parking lots at parks and courses must be capped at 50% capacity; playgrounds and restrooms at parks will be closed; picnics and other gatherings will not be permitted.

MAY 1, 2020

Relatives of COVID-19 patients fall into deferment debacle
New Jersey resident Christine Toscano, whose mother is battling COVID-19, tried to take care of the bills piling up with her mother’s mail, but getting the debts deferred turned into a battle.

Marriage requirements
Gov. Murphy signed an Executive Order relaxing the in-person requirements for both solemnization of marriage licenses for couples and working papers for minors. Wedding ceremonies will be allowed to be held using video-conferencing technology, with certain safeguards, while municipalities are still permitted to allow in-person ceremonies — subject to social distancing — but will not be required to do so.

Warm weather concerns as NJ parks, golf courses reopen
A beautiful spring weekend has some officials on edge as New Jersey prepares to open parks and golf courses at sunrise Saturday amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The weather forecast is right up a golfer’s alley, perfect timing, those itching to get outside say, and courses have been getting the greens ready — with the governor’s words in mind. There will be a few conditions placed on reopening: parking lots at parks and courses must be capped at 50% capacity; playgrounds and restrooms at parks will be closed; picnics and other gatherings will not be permitted.

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