NJ Permitted CARES Act Funding Flexibility

Gov. Phil Murphy announced at today’s state press conference that following conversations with the federal government, New Jersey is now permitted “greater flexibility” with $3.4 billion in CARES Act funding ($2.4 billion for the state and the remainder for its counties), and that this flexibility will facilitate $467 million in school aid, as well as support first responders and small businesses. Murphy thanked U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others for associated discussions and “for their willingness to listen to our concerns.”

However, regarding funding overall, Murphy also said, “We still have a long way to go, and some of the previously announced restrictions on our ability to maximize [CARES Act] funding, remain.”

He added, “We not only need full flexibility to use our CARES Act funding to cover the escalating cost of this [COVID-19] war – and it is a war – but also billions in direct federal cash assistance to stave off the economic and financial catastrophe that is threatening not just New Jersey, but every American state.”

Public Health Update

Separately, Murphy said that “no state has flattened the curve as much as New Jersey,” against the backdrop of 5,328 COVID-19 hospitalizations as of yesterday – a decrease from an April 14 high of 8,293 hospitalized patients. Patients in intensive care and those on ventilators also recently declined in number.

Using a map to illustrate virus rates, Murphy said, “… there is now a majority of counties where the virus is taking at least 30 days to double. That’s a big deal, and the only counties that are still in the dark or orange (faster doubling rates) are in the south, with a smaller number of cases where the virus is newer.”

State leaders nonetheless noted that 2,494 new COVID-19 cases were announced today, and 385 new patients with COVID-19 entered the state’s hospitals yesterday alone.

Citing people’s desire to see non-essential retail businesses and beaches open, Murphy added, “We still have people getting sick, going to the hospital and – sadly – over 300 today … have died. So, with all due respect, this is the fight of our lives.”

The state reported 334 new COVID-19 fatalities today, for a cumulative total of 8,244.

Medical Licensing

Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal also announced today “that 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 will be granted temporary emergency licenses. The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs will begin accepting applications for the emergency graduate licensure program today.”

Grewal said at the press conference, “Our new program temporarily removes these roadblocks and will allow thousands of nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants and respiratory care therapists to enter practice more quickly, at a time when our healthcare system needs their help the most.”

Additional information can be found here.

Long-Term Care Facilities

Grewal reminded the audience that his office opened an investigation of New Jersey’s long-term care facilities on April 16, prompted not only by the high deaths at these locations, but by “reports of bodies piled up in makeshift morgues,” among additional concerns.

Grewal said, “To be clear: At this particular time, we are not alleging any misconduct by any particular facility, or any entity, or any individual. We’ll simply follow the facts and the law wherever they lead us.”

He added that if the public has first-hand knowledge of illegal activities or other misconduct at long-term care facilities, they can report it at COVID19.NJ.GOV/LTC

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