Gov. Phil Murphy abruptly left a workforce development funding event today in Camden County after learning that he had been in close contact with someone on Saturday who has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was just informed by my colleagues that I was in close proximity to someone on Saturday who has just tested positive [for COVID-19],” Murphy said. “I just found out five minutes ago.”
Murphy said he underwent a routine COVID-19 test on Monday, adding that at the time he was unaware of his exposure on Saturday, and the results came back negative.
“I will now unfortunately have to take myself off of the field. I have no symptoms and tested negative on Monday, but I have to take myself off of the field and get tested again today. I apologize,” Murphy said before leaving today’s event early.
According to the governor’s office, the individual who tested positive for COVID-19 is a member of the governor’s senior staff, and they are currently quarantining at home.
Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy will be canceling their in-person events and voluntarily quarantine through the end of the weekend.
Before his departure, Murphy announced that his administration is investing $14 million of Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding into workforce development programs. Murphy said that the programs will aim to, “get people back to work to sustain our recovery now, while at the same time preparing our workforce for the post-COVID economy tomorrow.”
He added that the dollars leverage an additional $8.4 million in competitive federal funding that was awarded to the state to assist dislocated workers.
The funding will be divided into three “buckets,” according to the governor. The first will be $4 million, which will be used to hire dislocated and long-term unemployed workers into temporary jobs, which are directly tied to the state’s fight against, and recovery from, the pandemic. Murphy said that the initial focus sector will be long-term care.
“Our long-term care facilities need skilled hands now, and through this investment we can find those hands and put them to work,” he said.
The second bucket will include $3 million with a match from employers to provide customized job training and skills development for positions left vacant because of pandemic-related layoffs or cuts in hours. Murphy said that each participant will enter this particular program with a commitment of a job from an employer, with the state helping to subsidize the starting wage.
The state’s hardest hit sectors will be a priority with this program including: the retail and grocery, hospitality, restaurant, tourism, healthcare, transportation and logistic sectors.
The remaining $7 million will be used to expand career support services coordinated by the workforce investment boards throughout the state. These services include resume’ review and writing, remote referrals to direct job opportunities, and short-term training, for example.
“Our One Stop Career Centers will be reaching out to those who have been receiving unemployment benefits as well as other dislocated workers, to bring those who are out of work, but who want to work, back into the workforce,” Murphy said. “Too many people are not just unemployed, but have given up. This is an effort to track them down and bring them back in.”
We know these are investments that will pay dividends far greater than the money we are putting in,” Murphy said of the collective $14 million investment.
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