Some $50 million in federal CARES Act monies will be directed toward small businesses primarily via grants from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), Gov. Phil Murphy announced at today’s state press conference. Murphy added that further details – including the application period – will be unveiled “in the coming weeks.”
New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) President and CEO Michele Siekerka said in a statement, “NJBIA thanks Governor Murphy and his administration for this vital allocation to help New Jersey small businesses and nonprofits, many of which have been decimated due to the response to the coronavirus. As expressed to our policymakers in an April 16 letter, the need to flow more money out of EDA’s small business grant programs is of the utmost importance to our small businesses. Simply put, many are struggling for their survival and their need is nothing short of urgent.”
Siekerka added, “Small businesses represent over 98% of the state’s business demographic and represent the backbone of our economy, employing over 50% of our workforce. For New Jersey’s economic health, this infusion of funding is paramount.”
Murphy also said that elective surgical and other invasive procedures may resume statewide on Tuesday, May 26, with the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs set to release binding guidance addressing associated COVID-19 safety concerns.
Murphy said at the press conference, “Allowing for these [medical] procedures to resume is a big step forward for the public. We are able to do this on May 26 because the data we receive daily from within our hospitals says we can. And we also know this will be good for our healthcare systems, and allow them to begin the process of serving the many health needs of their residents.”
Murphy meanwhile said the July 7 election will be “primarily a vote-by-mail election. However, we will ensure that a limited number of in-person polling places in each county will be open to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to vote.”
He added that “all registered Democratic and Republican voters will automatically receive a postage-paid, vote-by-mail ballot. All unaffiliated and inactive voters will automatically receive a postage paid, vote-by-mail ballot application. And, in addition to the United States Postal Service, we will also require counties to distribute secure drop boxes for voters to turn in their completed ballots.”
In-person polling will remain available, with at least one location per municipality and at least 50 percent of overall normal locations, per county. Murphy said, “the deadline for vote-by-mail to be received by a county board of elections to be counted as valid will extended from 48 hours after the polls close, to seven days after the polls. By the way, it is still the case that the ballot has to be postmarked the last day of the election.”
He added, “Our goals are two-fold: To maximize our democracy while minimizing the risk of illness. We want everyone to participate in a safe and fully democratic process.”
Showcasing an array of steadily declining COVID-19 statistics including decreases in hospitalizations and intensive care unit patients, Murphy rhetorically asked why the entire state cannot be opened all at once, adding, “Yesterday, 285 people walked or were taken into a hospital for COVID-19.”
He said, “We’re making an enormous amount of progress, folks … and you all deserve the overwhelming amount of the credit, but we are not out of the woods, yet.”
Leaders announced that New Jersey’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 10,138, with 201 new fatalities reported at today’s press conference. There were 1,297 new COVID-19 test results announced, and 3,823 New Jerseyans remain hospitalized. A total of 357 patients were discharged from hospitals.
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