TRENTON, NJ – As the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 forces many New Jersey businesses to close, Gov. Phil Murphy is taking steps to ensure that residents who have lost their jobs don’t also lose their homes.
The governor said he will sign a bill that is expected to land on his desk in days that will grant him power to suspend evictions and foreclosures. He will then immediately sign an executive order to do just that.
“No one, and I repeat no one, in New Jersey should fear being kicked out of their home in this emergency,” Gov. Murphy said at a press conference with some of his cabinet members on Thursday.
Some counties have already announced they would not go forward with evictions and foreclosures, but this act would make it uniform across the state.
Murphy continued to look for cures for the sudden and drastic economic downturn in the state, even as his administration announced 312 new positive cases of COVID-19. State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said of the total number cases in the state, 742, the youngest victim is 3, the oldest 95.
She added that there are four more deaths from the virus, including a Monmouth County man in his 70s, an Ocean County man in his 70s, an Essex County man in his 60s, and a Bergen County man in his 30s.
Bob Garrett, the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said the system’s 17 hospitals are treating 500 suspected coronavirus cases. Garrett, invited by Murphy to speak at the press conference, said 150 Hackensack Meridian staff members are in quarantine over potential coronavirus exposure.
“This pandemic is the most disruptive force that I have ever seen in the health care system,” Garrett said.
Murphy continued to roll out more measures aimed at promoting social distancing as a way of slowing COVID-19’s spread. He ordered all barbershops, hair salons, spas, nail and eyelash salons and social clubs will close until further notice if they can’t adhere to his 50-person maximum order.
A FEMA-built testing center at Bergen County Community College will come online Friday morning. It will be capable of handling 2,500 tests a week.
With the anticipated climb in positive cases and the effect that will have on businesses in New Jersey, Murphy double-downed on his call for small business owners to “take a step back” before laying off workers and urged banks to exercise flexibility with small business loans.
Federal block grants would provide a Band-Aid, Murphy said. In fact, he has enlisted the help of governors from Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut to ask Washington for $100 billion in block grants.
The economic infusion will come in handy considering that NJ Transit estimates a $1.2 billion loss from lost fairs by the end of the next fiscal year.