TRENTON, NJ — A bill to expand paid family leave for workers who need time off to care for sick family members during the coronavirus crisis is set to be signed by Gov. Phil Murphy today.
Bill S-2374, authored by Senate President Steve Sweeney, revises the state’s family leave insurance program by allowing employees forced to care for family members due to COVID-19 up to 12-weeks of leave in a 24-month period without losing their jobs, Murphy said during his daily press briefing.
The governor is also slated to sign legislation extending the tax filing deadline for income and corporate taxes from April 15 to July 15 and extend the fiscal year 2020 to September 30. Murphy said moving the deadline will allow the state to glean the full effects of the pandemic on the economy and to incorporate the revenue data from state income tax returns.
Under the bill, Murphy will present a revised budget message to the legislature by August 25, he said.
The state recorded an additional 4,059 positive cases since Monday, bringing New Jersey’s caseload to 68,824. More than 8,100 residents were in hospital as a result of the virus.
The death toll rose to 2,805, a jump of 365, the largest 24-hour increase since the onset of the pandemic. However, Murphy said the death count was likely backlogged as a result of Easter.
Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli addressed the state’s intervention in long term care facilities, which have proved to be hotbeds for the spread of the virus amongst populations that often don’t survive its impact.
“This past weekend, we sent out an administrative order prohibiting admission to facilities that cannot cohort and maintain the appropriate infection interventions,” she said. “We’ve surveyed all the long-term care facilities about their ability to cohort residents on a separate wing or floor, or their ability to place residents in private rooms with private bathrooms, and having adequate staffing and PPE.”
Currently, 123 facilities did not meet the criteria for admission and therefore cannot accept new residents, Persichilli said. The state is working with health officials to set up temporary beds for individuals awaiting nursing home placement as they work to collect statistics and monitor the state’s more than 340 facilities.
“If there is a facility that’s at risk, they will be visited,” she added.
While officials were happy to report that social distancing measures are flattening the curve, Murphy emphasized the state’s model is still to “plan for the worst and hope for the best.” He pleaded with residents to continue to keep their guard up and not take the first sign of good news as a go-ahead to return to life as normal.
“If everybody right now — please, God, don’t do this — if everybody just started going out and going about their regular business, we would know within 24 hours and the models would blow up.”