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: 754,817 | Deaths: 21,561
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
Not sure who needs to hear this, but the pandemic still isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. Case in point: New Jersey now has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the nation at 293 new cases per 100,000 people. This is more than double the national average of 113, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials believe the recent spike in cases is caused by highly contagious variants of the coronavirus. So, while vaccines are more available and restrictions are slowly being lifted, please continue to social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands. [NorthJersey.com / Scott Fallon]
The American Rescue Plan is much more than $1,400 stimulus checks — it also includes the biggest expansion to health coverage since the Affordable Care Act. The law will make health insurance more affordable and accessible to those currently without coverage; it will also provide tax credits to low- and moderate-income families who already purchased coverage for 2021 on the state health exchange. In total, the changes are expected to help 100,000 New Jersey uninsured residents get coverage, with an additional 14,000 low-income residents expected to receive enough assistance to bring their premiums down to $0. This is a big deal. [NorthJersey.com / Lindy Washburn]
On Thursday, the U.S. House voted to allow undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children to stay here and eventually become citizens. The bill provides the same protections as the DREAM Act, which was signed into law under the Obama administration; it also extends temporary protected status to immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. In total, the bill would protect approximately 65,000 residents in New Jersey from deportation. “For far too long America’s dreamers have suffered under a cloud of fear and uncertainty,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell. “Our legislation will protect these young Americans and keep families together.” [NJ.com / Jonathan D. Salant]
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has pushed back the deadline to file federal income taxes to May 17 in an effort to give taxpayers more time due to hardships caused by the pandemic. The state deadline is still April 15, but Senator Paul Sarlo has already introduced a bill to align the state’s deadline with that of the federal government. Last year, both the federal and state tax deadlines were extended due to the pandemic. [NJ Spotlight News / John Reitmeyer]
The NJPP team is truly saddened by the tragic shootings in Georgia earlier this week and mourn the eight people whose lives were cut short by white supremacist, misogynist, anti-Asian violence. While we may want to think that this sort of hate has no home here in New Jersey, white supremacist propaganda has surged in the Garden State over the last year. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), New Jersey went from having only 12 incidents of reported hate propaganda in 2017 to 323 in 2020. “This exponential rise in hate serves to spread fear and to recruit even more people to the cause,” said Scott Richman of the ADL. “We must act quickly to push back against this tide with a whole-of-society approach.” [NorthJersey.com / Hannan Adely]
Advocates from across the state came together (virtually) earlier this week to call on the Legislature to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act. The bill, which would codify Roe v. Wade in state law and expand access to abortion care, has yet to receive a hearing. [NJ Spotlight News / Raven Santana]
Pets of NJPP
Meet Lucky, co-working pup of Dena Mottola Jaborska! Lucky is a four-year-old rescue pit bull mix who loves her brother Bear dearly (keep an eye out for Bear next week). Lucky and Bear spend lots of time together, mostly play fighting and napping. Lucky enjoys swimming in the Delaware River and walking the path in Stacey Park with his dad Pierre, the only Jaborska strong enough to walk him. Woof!
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