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Governor Murphy Extends Temporary Hold on Utility Shutoffs Until March 2021

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Credit: Edwin J. Torres/ Governor's Office

Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order on Thursday that prolongs the statewide moratorium on utility shutoffs until March 15, 2021.

What We Know:

  • This decision prevents all water, electric, and gas shutoffs for residential and business clients due to nonpayment. Cable providers must allow the same relief for internet and voice services through November 15, 2020. Additionally, if a household has school-age children, their internet connectivity cannot be cut off through at least March 15, 2021.
  • According to the NJ Board of Public Utilities, more than 440,000 New Jersey residents owe gas and electric bills that are at least 90 days overdue. Additionally, almost 43,000 commercial customers are having the same problem with bills costing around $1,300.

  • Murphy advised customers struggling to pay their bills to work with their utility company and the board of public utilities to see if they qualify for a payment assistance program.
  • Despite allowing services to remain on, the moratorium, however, does not wipe away the customer’s owed balance.
  • Board of Public Utilities President Joe Fiordaliso stated:

“Eventually, everyone has to pay their bill; everyone must reach out to the utility companies[your utility], set up a payment plan so that at the end of the moratorium you’re not faced with such a gigantic bill that it becomes overwhelming.”

  • Larry Levine, Senior Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council, thanked Governor Murphy’s continuous leadership. Due to Governor Murphy’s decision, thousands of New Jerseyans will not have to worry about their water being cut-off or losing power as the winter months approach. He also mentioned that this is an important step that will help relieve much hardship and save lives.
  • Utility businesses like PSEG, JCP&L, and Atlantic City Electric have stated their support for the extension. At least this can give some sort of peace to New Jersey residents.

Both Murphy’s moratorium extension and utility payment plans aim to soften the financial blow for New Jersey residents and businesses.

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Coronavirus

Dodgers Win World Series

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The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6, capturing their first World Series title since 1988.

What We Know:

  • The Dodgers had a tough time early in the game, but came alive in the sixth inning. This was helped by Rays manager Kevin Cash’s questionable decision to pull their starting pitcher Blake Snell early.
  • Snell pitched 18 strikeouts in the World Series and just allowed two hits during this game, so it was surprising to see him leave the game so early.
  • This gave the Dodgers an opportunity that they wouldn’t waste. After trailing 0-1, the Dodgers were able to tie off a wild pitch and Mookie Betts was able to make it home to take the lead. He capped off the game with a monster home run to seal the game.

  • This championship must feel good for LA. It’s their second one this month as the Lakers won the NBA Championship just weeks ago. Not only is this the Dodgers’ first championship in over 30 years, it’s one that caps off a decade of dominant regular-season baseball.
  • The Dodgers have been one of the MLB’s best teams for the last several seasons, but they have always disappointed or fallen just short of winning it all. This win completely changes the legacies of every member of their core, especially Clayton Kershaw.
  • A little bit of controversy to go with this joyous occasion: Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19. The Dodgers were notified midgame and Turner was pulled in the eighth inning. Turner said he was feeling fine and asymptomatic, but he drew a lot criticism for celebrating with the team and taking photos while taking his mask off.

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Dodgers president Andrew Friedman said of Turner, “I don’t think there was anyone that was going to stop him from going out.”

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AstraZeneca Says its Coronavirus Vaccine Triggers Immune Response Among Adults

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AstraZeneca offices in Cambridge, England. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)
AstraZeneca offices in Cambridge, England. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

The push to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 seems to have taken another leap recently. British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca stated on Monday that AZD1222, the technical name of the potential Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, has triggered positive immune responses in adults.

What We Know:

  • AstraZeneca, the company responsible for developing an already promising vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford, has also said that a variety of responses to the vaccine among the elderly were also found to be lower.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the older portions of populations, including anyone else regardless of age with preexisting medical conditions, are most likely to get hit harder by the virus than anyone else. These people usually develop serious illnesses and other reactions upon contracting COVID-19. The announcement of these results makes it clearer that a vaccine can be successfully developed and distributed by the end of 2020.
  • According to CNBC, an AstraZeneca spokesman has said “It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher.”

“The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” the spokesman continued.

  • Many drugmakers and research centers are consistently working towards trying to deliver an efficient vaccine that will hopefully stomp out the pandemic that’s loomed over the world for much of 2020. At this point, COVID-19 has claimed over 1.15 million lives.
  • Over the past few months, several countries and companies have attempted to create vaccine candidates which are currently in test trials, according to the WHO. However, there are only a few that have reached later stages and much less received actual approval.

AZD1222 is still being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca. Many believe it will end up being the undeniable winner of the race to create a vaccine and secure regulatory approval. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soirot has already noted that this vaccine has the ability to provide protection against the virus for at least a year.

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Trump Administration Halts Santa Claus Coronavirus Plan

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The Department of Health and Human Services has halted a coronavirus advertising campaign centered around Santa Claus performers.

What We Know:

  • The $250 million campaign would have seen mall Santas promoting a COVID-19 vaccine in exchange for early access to it. Mrs. Claus performers and elves would have been included. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • The campaign was originated by HHS assistant secretary Michael Caputo, who is on a 60-day medical leave. The plan was intended to “defeat despair” and “inspire hope”. It is now being thoroughly revied by HHS.
  • Several House Democrats have suggested that this campaign was purely a political stunt rather than a genuine public health effort. The administration attempted to include actor Dennis Quaid and other celebrities in the campaign, but their participation fizzled out.
  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar said that the Santa “collaboration will not be happening” and that he had no knowledge of Caputo’s discussions. Ric Erwin of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas said the news was “extremely disappointing” and that it “was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen”.
  • Caputo reportedly called Erwin in August, telling him that a vaccine would likely be ready by mid-November and that essential workers would have it by Thanksgiving. “If you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don’t know what is . . . I cannot wait to tell the president. He’s going to love this,” said Caputo.

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern told the Wall Street Journal that the president had no knowledge of the Santa campaign.

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