Small Business Assistance:
Our country is reckoning with a deadly pandemic that only continues to worsen. This week, the United States crossed 12,000,000 infections and 256,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Day after day, we are setting dangerous new records for case numbers and hospitalizations. In New Jersey, we are facing our most serious wave since April. It is vital we slow the spread by continuing to practice social distancing, wearing a face covering, and practicing good hygiene.
As the virus worsens once again and tens of millions of Americans continue to collect unemployment and businesses shutter, the House of Representatives acted decisively to send relief to American workers, businesses, states, and cities. We passed the HEROES Act in May to provide fresh economic aid to families, state and local governments, and essential workers on the front lines of this pandemic. Mitch McConnell’s Senate has refused to even consider it for six months.
In October, the House voted – yet again – to put money right into the pockets of Americans. Our latest stimulus package would provide another round of $1,200 checks, additional food support, rental assistance, relief for state and local governments, and restore $600 weekly federal unemployment benefits. And once again, Republicans are prioritizing right-wing judicial confirmations over aid for the American people.
The level of pain Americans are feeling in this moment is impossible for any of us to capture in words. Our neighbors are in need and I am committed to fighting for urgent relief in Washington. Too much is at stake.
Update on Cases in New Jersey
As of November 18, there are 289,562 confirmed cases and 14,843 deaths in our state, an increase of 26,206 infections and 169 deaths from last week. Yesterday, New Jersey reported 4,060 new cases and 38 deaths -- the highest number of fatalities announced in a single day in more than four months. Additionally, the state is reporting 2,446 hospitalizations, the highest number since late May.
Cases are rising fast in our state. We are facing our most serious wave since April and we cannot let our guard down. It is vital we slow the spread by continuing to practice social distancing, wearing a mask, and practicing good hygiene.
Containing the Spread
In light of the rapidly increased spread, Governor Murphy announced several new COVID-19 mitigation measures. Effective Tuesday, November 17, the indoor gathering limit will decrease from 25 people to 10 people. The outdoor gathering limit will decrease from 500 people to 150 people on Monday, November 23. More details about the Governor’s new measures are detailed here.
Additionally, restaurants, bars, and lounges must now close their indoor premises from 10:00pm-5:00am and will not be allowed to offer indoor bar seating at any time. Further, anyone returning or visiting from one of the 45 states and territories with significant virus spread must abide by the state travel advisory to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Finally, you can help contact tracing efforts by downloading the new COVID Alert NJ app. This app notifies users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Knowing about a potential exposure can help individuals quickly make a plan to stay safe.
State and Federal Aid
Since the start of the pandemic, the federal government has provided New Jersey with $18.31 billion in support, including over $13 billion in unemployment assistance and over $2 billion in state coronavirus relief funding. The bulk of this funding was authorized by the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which I was proud to vote in favor of in March.
Last week, Governor Murphy announced a commitment of at least $60 million in additional CARES Act funding for grants under Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (NJEDA’s) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. This funding is in addition to $70 million in federal funds already allocated for the program. These funds will enable the NJEDA to fulfill grants for the entire pipeline of eligible businesses that applied for Phase 3 funding prior to the application deadline. These new dollars will enable over 13,000 businesses to receive funding.
Additionally, I am glad to announce $5.2 million in CARES Act funding to Paterson Public Schools for the purchase of protective equipment and electronic devices to support remote learning. These dollars will go a long way toward supporting the steadfast efforts of our teachers and administrators to ensure every student receives a good education during this challenging year.
Finally, in May, and once again in October, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act to provide additional relief to families, frontline workers, first responders, and states and cities. The Senate has not yet considered it. As negotiations on further COVID-19 relief continue, I will be sure to keep you updated.
Since the start of the pandemic, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has dispersed more than $13 billion in federal unemployment benefits and $5.6 billion in state unemployment benefits. More than 1.78 million New Jersey workers have sought unemployment benefits since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Additionally, NJDOL has distributed $1.2 billion in FEMA Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) payments to 778,000 eligible claimants. Workers who earned at least $100 in unemployment benefits for a COVID-related reason during the weeks ending Aug. 1 through Sept. 5 were eligible and notified by NJDOL to claim their benefit. The benefit is $300 per week for up to six weeks, for a maximum payment of $1,800.
The House of Representatives has passed the HEROES Act, which provides an additional $600 weekly federal benefit for those collecting unemployment. The Senate has not yet considered it. As negotiations on additional federal unemployment relief continue, I will be sure to keep you updated.
If you are experiencing issues receiving your owed unemployment benefits, please reach out to my Paterson office at 973-523-5152 for assistance.
We are facing a global pandemic, and ensuring the safety of all families from COVID-19 and its impact on day-to-day life is my top priority. My office has prepared an informational webpage to ensure workers, families, businesses, and health care providers know their options for relief. For the latest on the coronavirus in New Jersey, check the state’s website at covid19.nj.gov.
You can always reach me and my staff in Washington at 202-225-5751 or New Jersey at 973-523-5152 for assistance or further guidance. Remember, my door is always open to you. We are all in this together.