Friday Facts and Figures is a brief digital newsletter focusing on data points from NJPP reports, research, and policy debates in New Jersey and beyond.
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COVID-19 Cases: 205,889 | Deaths: 14,340
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
More Than a Dozen
If you haven’t heard the news yet, President Donald Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. Hours before President Trump announced his test results, he was in New Jersey for a high-dollar fundraiser at his golf club in Bedminster, possibly exposing others — despite knowing that his aide Hope Hicks, who was on Air Force One with him earlier this week, had recently tested positive for coronavirus. According to attendees of the event, the President was not wearing a mask while he sat down with more than a dozen donors for a roundtable discussion. Governor Phil Murphy has announced that the state has already started contact tracing efforts, urging all attendees of the event to “take full precautions, including self-quarantining and getting tested.” This is a stark reminder that the threat of COVID-19 is still very real, and we should all continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. [NJ.com / Brent Johnson]
Roe v. Wade
Big reproductive justice news in New Jersey: Governor Murphy, Senator Loretta Weinberg, and Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle joined advocates in the Thrive NJ coalition earlier today to unveil legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into state law and expand access to abortion care. The Reproductive Freedom Act declares the fundamental right for all New Jerseyans to access comprehensive reproductive care without government interference or discrimination, ensures coverage for all by expanding access to safe and affordable reproductive health care for all, regardless of immigration status, and repeals medically unnecessary and harmful regulations that create barriers to accessing abortion care. As NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Sheila Reynertson stated in the bill announcement, “When someone is denied abortion care because they can’t cover the cost, research shows they are more likely to remain in poverty for years. That’s oppression. And this bill puts an end to it.” [NPR / Sarah McCammon]
New Jersey’s new budget makes the largest ever public pension payment in state history at $4.7 billion. This commitment to keeping the state’s worker retirement fund solvent during the COVID-19 economic downturn stands in stark contrast to budget decisions of the past when state lawmakers chronically underfunded the pension, regardless of the state of the economy. This also sets an example for other states during the pandemic, where pension payments are being skipped altogether or severely cut. “For other states facing unprecedented budget challenges in the year ahead, New Jersey’s approach demonstrates how policymakers can commit to maintaining fiscal discipline and rely on nonpartisan, data-driven analysis to point the way,” writes David Draine of The PEW Charitable Trusts. [The PEW Charitable Trusts / David Draine, Corryn Hall, and Emma Wei]
The recession brought on by COVID-19 is the most unequal in modern U.S. history, according to a new analysis by The Washington Post. “It’s an even more unequal recession than usual,” said Ben Bernanke, who chaired the Federal Reserve through the Great Recession. “The sectors most deeply affected by COVID disproportionately employ women, minorities and lower-income workers.” At the peak of the pandemic, low-paid workers lost their jobs at about eight times the rate of high-income earners, according to the analysis. And while the nation has recovered nearly half of the jobs lost, the recovery has been much slower for mothers of school-age children, Black men and women, Hispanic men, Asian Americans, young workers, and those without college degrees. Definitely give this a read, as there are plenty of interactive graphics that show just how stark the job loss disparities are. [The Washington Post / Heather Long, Andrew Van Dam, Alyssa Fowers, and Leslie Shapiro]
Big congratulations to NJPP President Brandon McKoy for being recognized in ROI-NJ’s People of Color Influencers list for 2020! Here’s a great line from Brandon’s feature: “Whether you agree or disagree with his positions, you know they come from research, not reactions.” As Brandon likes to say, #MathIsReal. [ROI NJ / ROI Influencers of Color: 2020]
Pets of NJPP
Meet NJPP Policy Analyst Vineeta Kapahi’s new nieces, Callie and Dory, five-month-old chihuahua dachshund mixes from Georgia and now proud Jersey girls. Callie is a super taster — she takes her time with her meals, savoring every bite. Dory will happily clean her plate and yours with no hesitation. Both girls enjoy feeling the sand in their toes during long walks on the beach and visiting their cousins Sasha and Tucker. Most of all, they love each other and their lucky dads. Woof!
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