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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Vaccine Doses: 11,180,881
Fully Vaccinated People: 5,621,039
[New Jersey Department of Health / COVID-19 Dashboard]
At least 25 people in New Jersey have died as a result of Hurricane Ida, making the storm one of the deadliest on record in the state. Tragically, the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as rescuers are still searching for six people reported missing. This should act as a reminder to take flood warnings seriously — all of the reported deaths were a result of flooding in cars or homes, according to Governor Murphy. And make no mistake, climate change is making storms like Ida more extreme. Yes, taking action on climate comes at a cost, but as this storm showed us, the cost of inaction is far, far greater. [NJ.com / Anthony Attrino]
On top of a deadly storm and the ongoing pandemic, New Jersey is also facing a rising overdose crisis. In the first six months of the year, 1,626 New Jersey residents died of a drug overdose, according to new data published by the state’s Attorney General. If this pace continues, New Jersey will experience a record-breaking number of overdose deaths in 2021. Fortunately, overdose deaths are often preventable — but only with the right policies in place. For New Jersey, that means divesting from the drug war and, instead, investing in harm reduction, which is one of the few proven ways to save lives. [NJ Spotlight News / Lilo Stainton]
Texas’s draconian six-week abortion ban went into effect earlier this week after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block it. This represents the latest attack on reproductive health in what’s been the most hostile legislative year for abortion rights since Roe v. Wade was decided nearly 50 years ago. But even in progressive states like New Jersey, access to abortion care is often in name only, as persistent financial and procedural barriers remain. [NJ Spotlight News / Joanna Gagis]
New Jersey workers filed more than 3,300 health and safety complaints against their employers since November, according to data obtained by WNYC from the state Department of Labor. The complaints — ranging from a lack of PPE to companies allowing COVID-positive employees to continue working — highlight the tough choices workers have had to make during the pandemic. “We are all scared to go in, but if we don’t, we will be fired,” a worker at a mortgage firm in Shrewsbury wrote in a complaint. This underscores the need for stronger workplace protections and stronger labor law enforcement. [Gothamist / Karen Yi]
In August, New Jersey became the latest state to end prison gerrymandering, ensuring that people who are incarcerated will be counted as residents of their address prior to incarceration. Previously, people who are incarcerated were counted as residents of their facility, but this produced distortions in population and electoral representation, giving outsized influence to communities where prisons were built at the expense of communities disproportionately harmed by mass incarceration. Click the link to see NJPP Senior Policy Analyst Peter Chen’s latest report (with interactive maps!) showing which districts will be impacted the most by this new law. [NJPP / Peter Chen]
To commemorate Overdose Awareness Day this past Tuesday, NJPP President Brandon McKoy and Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Kassandra Frederique called on federal lawmakers to end the failed War on Drugs. The joint op-ed in the New York Daily News makes the connection between the overdose crisis and our current criminal approach to drug use. “The truth is that the criminalization of drugs is driving the overdose crisis,” Brandon and Kassandra write. [New York Daily News / Brandon McKoy and Kassandra Frederique]
Pets of NJPP
No one sent me pet pics for today! Normally I’d be a little bit disappointed, but I’ll give you all a pass this week given the tornados and flooding. In lieu of a new pet, please enjoy this picture of my cat, Mau.
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