N.J. coronavirus recovery: Murphy signs landmark environmental justice law

Cooper's Poynt Park in Camden, N.J.

This June 11, 2020, photo shows Cooper's Poynt Park in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

New Jersey officials reported another 519 cases of coronavirus on Friday, which means the state has now seen 198,848 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

Another five people died from complications of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total number of fatalities to 14,270 confirmed deaths and 1,791 probable deaths.

The coronavirus test positivity rate was 2.19% and the rate of transmission was 1.08, meaning that for every 100 people who got the disease they passed it to another 108.

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Ocean, Monmouth Counties driving new cases

Officials said that Ocean and Monmouth Counties have reported the highest number of new cases over the last week, with both topping the charts again Friday.

The two Jersey Shore counties accounted for 736 cases over the previous week ending on Thursday, according to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

She also said many of the state’s new cases were tracked to group events.

“We continue to see a rise in cases … some linked to celebratory gatherings like parties and some linked to solemn gatherings as in funerals,” she said.

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The state is sending more contact tracers to Ocean and Monmouth Counties to help their local governments better understand the rise in cases.

Persichilli also said adolescents and young adults continue to be the two age groups reporting the highest number of new COVID-19 infections.

Murphy signs landmark environmental justice law

Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday signed what backers say is the strongest environmental justice law in the nation. It comes as communities of color continue to face higher rates of death from COVID-19 in New Jersey and across the country.

The law requires applicants for environmental permits to explain the impact of their project on communities of color, and it allows the Department of Environmental Protection to condition or deny a permit based on that criteria.

“We all know that too often it is the seemingly small and, by definition, bureaucratic actions of government which have the most outsized impacts on our communities and our residents,” Murphy said.

Examples of environmental pollution hurting the health of Black and Latino neighborhoods have been documented all over New Jersey, especially Camden. Advocates have long pushed for the legislation in the Garden State, to address the pollution and work to improve poor air quality.

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