The United States has crossed 4,100,000 infections and 146,000 deaths due to COVID-19. More than 48 million people, including over 1.4 million workers in our state, have filed for unemployment. During this trying time for our country, I want to ensure you have the latest information about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and my work in Congress to protect the safety and economic security of North Jersey workers and families.
Outlook in New Jersey
Slowing the Spread: As of July 24, there are 177,887 confirmed cases and 15,730 deaths in our state, including approximately 25,879 cases in New Jersey's Ninth Congressional District. These statistics are tragic, but thanks to Governor Phil Murphy's swift action as well as the efforts of New Jerseyans practicing social distancing, we have flattened the curve in our state. Since COVID-19 cases peaked in New Jersey in mid-April, new hospitalizations are down by 96% .
With case numbers rising across the nation, Governor Murphy issued a travel advisory for individuals traveling to New Jersey from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period. The quarantine advisory currently includes individuals traveling from the following 31 states: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
To ensure we continue our progress, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order requiring the use of face coverings in outdoor public spaces where social distancing is not possible. Wearing a face covering and social distancing are critical to keeping yourself and others safe! Learn more here .
Re-Opening the State: We remain in Stage Two of Governor Murphy's plan to safely re-open the economy. This has included the re-opening of outdoor dining, retail stores, outdoor recreational businesses, swimming pools, shopping malls, museums, and youth day camps.. Indoor dining, bars, and recreational businesses remain closed.
This past week, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order allowing for the resumption of contact practices and competitions in outdoor settings for organized sports defined as "high risk" including football, cheerleading, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling. All sports will have to abide by health and safety protocols.
Education: Last week, Governor Murphy released New Jersey's plan to address unmet student technological needs in New Jersey schools. With many schools preparing to re-open on hybrid schedule of both in-person and remote learning per state guidance , addressing the digital divide is critical. In order to close the divide, the state plans to disperse $54 million in federal aid provided by Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to public school districts to purchase digital devices and internet connectivity for one-to-one student use based on need. An additional $6 million will be available for nonpublic schools.
Unemployment: The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has dispersed more than $8.2 billion in federal unemployment benefits and $3.4 billion in state unemployment benefits. Last week, 25,804 individuals filed new claims, a 33 percent decline from the prior week.
An additional $600 weekly unemployment benefit from the federal government is set to expire tomorrow. This benefit has provided over $7 billion in assistance to 1.4 million unemployed New Jerseyans over the past several months. In May, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which extends this benefit until the end of the year. The Senate has not yet considered it. As negotiations on further COVID-19 relief continue, I will be sure to keep you updated.
For more information about federal or state unemployment benefits, please visit: myunemployment.nj.gov . If you are experiencing issues receiving your owed unemployment benefits, please reach out to my Paterson office at 973-523-5152 for assistance.
Federal Support for New Jersey
Supporting First Responders: This week, the House passed the Safeguarding America's First Responders Act (S. 3607), a bill I have championed that will ensure public safety officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty are eligible for benefits should they become disabled or die from the virus. I have been leading this effort since early April when I led 160 of my colleagues in a letter calling for presumptive benefits to the families of first responders who fall to COVID-19. This bill must now be signed into law and enacted by the Justice Department with the urgency our first responders deserve.
Online Groceries Through SNAP: Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients in New Jersey are now able to purchase groceries online through Amazon and participating Walmarts, ShopRites and The Fresh Grocers. This flexibility will help protect the program’s recipients amidst the pandemic. In March, I joined Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker in calling on the United States Department of Agriculture to admit New Jersey into this critical program .
To learn more, recipients can visit the Amazon or Walmart SNAP portals to register their Electronic Benefit Transit (EBT) card. Any Walmart, ShopRite or The Fresh Grocer that currently provides online shopping will also accept online ordering with SNAP benefits.
My office has updated our fact sheets to ensure workers, families, businesses, and health care providers know their options for relief:
- Hospitals and Health Care Providers Relief Fact Sheet
- The CARES Act allocated $100 billion for health care providers across the nation to respond to the outbreak, and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act provided an additional $75 billion. New Jersey hospitals and long-term care facilities have received $3.9 billion in relief.
- Individuals and Families Relief Fact Sheet
- The CARES Act included $1,200 economic impact payments for most Americans to address the severe impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on personal safety and financial security amid this crisis. The IRS has delivered over 4.1 million payments to New Jerseyans . Haven't received your check yet or have a question? The IRS has set up a hotline at 800-919-9835.
- Small and Medium Sized Business Relief Fact Sheet
- On April 23, Congress passed an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Program Program and $50 billion in small business disaster loans. I was glad to support this critical legislation to ensure our neighborhood small businesses have the support they need, and I am committed to doing more for our state and local governments, hospitals, and first responders. American small businesses have received received more than $519 billion and New Jersey businesses have received over $17 billion in Paycheck Protection loans from this program, with 9th District businesses receiving $1.3 billion. This program, originally scheduled to expire on June 30, has been extended to August 8.
Additionally, if you have lost health coverage due to job loss of yourself or a family member, you are eligible to enroll in quality, affordable health care through the Affordable Care Act. Go to healthcare.gov to enroll and learn more about qualifying life events that allow you to enroll outside of Open Enrollment.
We are facing a global pandemic, and ensuring the safety of all families from COVID-19 and its impact on day-to-day life is my top priority. You can always reach me and my staff in Washington at 202-225-5751 or New Jersey at 973-523-5152 for assistance or further guidance. Remember, my door is always open to you. We are all in this together.
Bill Pascrell Jr.
Member of Congress