Friday Facts and Figures is a weekly newsletter with data points, analysis, and commentary on the biggest policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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COVID-19 Cases: 580,688 | Deaths: 18,639
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Joe Biden got straight to work after being sworn in as the nation’s 46th president, signing a flurry of executive orders aimed at reversing some of the Trump administration’s most controversial and harmful policies. As the Star-Ledger outlines here, these executive orders will have a big impact on New Jersey. By restoring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), President Biden is codifying protections for more than 16,000 Dreamers in the Garden State. President Biden also ended the Trump administration’s “Muslim Ban,” which restricted travel from several countries with Muslim majorities. [NJ.com / Jonathan D. Salant]
Today’s a big day in New Jersey’s vaccination push, as the state opens its fifth and sixth vaccine mega-sites. Sites are now open in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Gloucester, Middlesex, and Morris Counties, and they are offering vaccines to high-priority groups, including health care professionals, first responders, people over age 65, and those with chronic health conditions. Click the link here for more info on how to set up an appointment at each site. [NJ.com / Chris Sheldon]
New Jersey’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.6 percent in December — but this isn’t news to celebrate, as the drop comes from workers leaving the labor force rather than finding new jobs. This is a bad sign for the economy and a stark example of how economic health is inextricably linked to public health. The best things New Jersey can do now are 1) speed up vaccinations to get the pandemic under control, and 2) make sure that unemployment insurance benefits are available so that people can meet their basic needs as they continue looking for jobs. [NJ Spotlight News / Number of the Day]
Big news for commuters: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has unveiled final plans for a new state-of-the-art, 2 million-square-foot bus terminal. The plan includes a new five-story bus terminal, a bus storage facility with electric charging infrastructure, and a new ramp structure — all to be built on land owned by the Port Authority in midtown Manhattan. This is great news for commuters, as a competing proposal would have put the new bus terminal at the Javitz Center, blocks away from the 12 subway lines connected to the existing terminal. I want to give a special shout out to Senator Loretta Weinberg and former Senator Bob Gordon (my former boss) for their years of tireless advocacy on this. [NJ.com / Larry Higgs]
ICYMI: We’re Hiring!
Here’s your chance to join your favorite wonks at NJPP! We’re looking for a Digital Communications Manager to help us produce compelling videos and graphics, a Crotty Fellow to work with our policy team during the summer, and a State Policy Fellow to research and write reports with us for the next two years. If you’re interested or know someone who may be a good fit, please click the link for more info! [NJPP / Career Opportunities]
Pets of NJPP
Meet April, Michael Enich’s co-working cat! April was named by his previous owners who thought he was a girl — when they brought him in to get fixed a name was required on the vet forms, so they named him after the current month. April’s favorite pastry is a frangipane plum tart, which is the only human food he steals from the kitchen table. Having experienced homelessness early in his life, April is an avid harm reductionist and big supporter of the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition (in addition to being a big supporter of NJPP). Meow!
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