TRENTON – With Congress about to pass a $2 trillion relief program – the largest bailout in history – one must ask: will it have a tangible effect on people living in New Jersey? Of course, we will be paying back this mega-loan for a couple of hundred years or so. But how will it really help people who can no longer pay the mortgage? This is a high-wage state, with high property taxes and a high cost of living. So how far will the needle move if people (who meet the income requirements) are handed $1,200? Will it really make a difference in our lives, in, say, May or June or July? “Free” money at the moment is always nice; the deep concern is how such a massive bailout will hamper economic recovery for years to come. There’s also many vital goodies in this $2 trillion of corona-cash, all of which are arguably needed. But are we replacing careful thought with blind action? Why go all in when we don’t know the next card?

TRENTON – The New Jersey Assembly made history yesterday, passing several pieces of legislation without even one member showing up to the State House to vote. Because of the COVID-19 emergency, lawmakers conducted their business remotely for the very first time. NJ Spotlight reports that distance didn’t hamper all those Yea votes to extend temporary disability and family leave insurance programs. Everything didn’t run smoothly, however. Or, as Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin put it, things were “a little choppy.” We’re talking dogs barking in the background, a chorus of kids chiming in on the “yes” votes and phones that just wouldn’t mute for anything. The biggest mystery: Who was running a blender and, moreover, what were they blending? Daiquiri or margarita; we’ll never know.

TRENTON – So, we thought we heard everything. But now there’s something new: a “Social Distancing Scoreboard.” That’s right. A cell phone company studying GPS location data has given New Jersey very high marks on this scorecard based on how limited we have all traveled since the outbreak. In fact, Gov. Phil Murphy is even citing this scorecard, noting New Jersey is now ranking among the top five states based on how little we are collectively moving around. To earn the “A,” New Jerseyans were able to obtain a 40% decrease in the amount of travel. Only three other states and D.C. earned such accolades. “Great work, New Jersey,” Murphy said, retweeting a Washington Post story about the scoreboard. Without live sports, at least there is one score we can cheer for.

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BRIEFING BREATHER: The average person will accidentally eat just under a pound of insects every year.

STATEWIDE – Really? State Sen. Michael Testa, a Republican who represents the sticks of rural South Jersey, wants gun stores added to the list of “essential businesses” that should be allowed to remain open statewide during this crisis. He cites “self-protection” if and when more cops become ill. “People have a constitutional right to bear arms and to defend themselves and their families during these uncertain times,” Testa argues, in a press release dashed out yesterday. “Gun stores should never have been closed in the first place.” Makes sense. With a depleted police force, let’s give panicked people more guns in one of the most congested areas on the planet. Brilliant.

STATEWIDE – It may not exactly be your preferred career trajectory, but, hey, it is a full-time job. For many workers who have been victims of completely unexpected job loss, the state wants you to know you are desperately needed. In fact, you can probably start working on Monday in health care, in supermarkets, in logistics, in pharmacies, in shipping, etc. Again, if you see yourself as a wedding singer, bartender or a stand-up philosopher, this wasn’t what you planned. But the work is there, if you want it. Dust yourself off and check New Jersey’s portal.

TRENTON – Sometimes a cough is just a cough, but these days a cough can set off a full emergency response. Case in point: An elderly man at a city Housing Authority complex went nuts after another resident accidentally coughed on him in an elevator. He made panicked calls, fearing he’d contracted COVID-19. Public health nurses in protective gear were then dispatched to the West State Street housing complex Monday to examine the man and the coughing woman. “It was a false alarm,” Mayor Reed Gusciora tells the Trentonian, with some relief. “She was just a cougher … but there is a hysteria going on out there.” While at the complex, the mayor said city officials “shut down the community room,” noting these guys were playing cards. “We’re like, you can’t do that,” the mayor said.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

BALMA, France – A 32-year-old runner had dreams of participating in the Barcelona Marathon on March 15. But it was cancelled, like everything else. Stuck at home, he had only one option: Running 26.2 miles on his balcony, running 23 feet at a time. It took 6 hours and 48 minutes to complete 3,000 laps, as his girlfriend fed him M&Ms and Coke as he ran back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. The runner says it was his most difficult race yet, as the short track made it impossible to build any momentum or speed. This victory was all his.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 2006 that smoking was banned in bars in Scotland. Did anyone notice?

WORD OF THE DAY

Welkin – [WEL-kin] – noun

Definition: The upper atmosphere

Example: At least there is one safe place from coronavirus: the welkin.

WIT OF THE DAY

“A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth.”

- Karla Grimes

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success.”

-Donald J. Trump (March 25, 2020)

WEATHER IN A WORD: Stroll-able

THE NEW 60
A Jaffe Briefing Exclusive
by Andy Landorf & John Colquhoun