Last week, New Jersey Governor Murphy issued executive orders extending the state Public Health Emergency under the pandemic. This came the day after his request for a legislative signoff on the move was rejected by senior members of his own party. Murphy yesterday had said that he would extend the orders and took the step just hours before giving his annual State of the State address and a pending 11:59 PM deadline which was the first of his second term.
Governor Phil Murphy’s reinstatement of the Public Health Emergency, effective immediately, is to ensure that the State can respond to the continued threat of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. Below is from The Governor’s Office:
“Executive Order No. 280 declares a Public Health Emergency and restates the existing State of Emergency across all 21 counties in New Jersey, allowing state agencies and departments to utilize state resources to assist the State's healthcare system and affected communities responding to and recovering from COVID-19 cases. Executive Order No. 281 continues Executive Orders Nos. 111, 112, and 207, allows Executive Orders Nos. 251, 252, 253, 264, and 271 to remain in effect, and extends various regulatory actions taken by the departments in response to COVID-19.
"COVID-19 remains a significant threat to our State and we must commit every resource available to beating back the wave caused by the Omicron variant," said Governor Murphy. "While we hope to return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, the step I am taking today is a commonsense measure that will protect the safety and well-being of all New Jersey residents while allowing state government to respond to the continuing threat that COVID-19 poses to our daily lives."
The Public Health Emergency will allow the state to continue vaccine distribution, vaccination or testing requirements in certain settings, the collection of COVID-19 data, implementation of any applicable recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent or limit the transmission of COVID-19, staffing and resource allocation, and other critical components of the State's COVID-19 response. The new Public Health Emergency will allow for existing orders requiring masking in school and daycare settings to remain in effect.
Governor Murphy's public health emergency declaration also empowers all State agencies to take all appropriate steps to continue to address the public health hazard resulting from new variants of COVID-19.
Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, the Public Health Emergency will expire after 30 days, unless renewed. State COVID-19 metrics will be re-evaluated at the time of expiration to determine if an extension will be needed.”
The highlights of the new 220th Legislature are the five new senators that were sworn in with State Sen. Ed Durr (R-Swedesboro), who achieved instant fame when he upset Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) in the 3rd legislative district. In addition to Durr, State Sen. Jean Stanfield (R-Southampton), State Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick), State Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), and State Sen. Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood) all but Durr previously served in the Assembly.
On the Assembly side, 16 new members took the oath of office, eleven of the Assembly’s 16 new members are Republicans, including six – Assemblymembers Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City), Claire Swift (R-Margate), Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich), Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington), Kim Eulner (R-Shrewsbury), and Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck) who flipped seats from Democrats in November.
The HCAOA New Jersey Chapter is now in the process of converting the bills on our Legislative Tracking list from the previous session to the new one. This process should be complete in the next few days, so stay tuned.