N.J. coronavirus recovery: Young people driving new cases; MVC chops away at backlog

Jenna Pelaez reacts as friends and loved ones sing

Jenna Pelaez reacts as friends and loved ones sing "happy birthday" at a surprise birthday party for her in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza Mall, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Paramus, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

New Jersey reported another 518 cases of coronavirus Friday, bringing the cumulative total over the last six months of the pandemic to 195,888 positive cases.

The state also reported another nine deaths related to the virus. That means there have been 14,234 confirmed fatalities and another 1,789 probable deaths from COVID-19.

The state’s rate of transmission was 1.08, meaning for every 100 people testing positive, the virus spreads to 108 more people.

Young people driving new cases

State health officials said they continued to see a worrying trend of young people accounting for higher levels of new coronavirus cases.

People aged 14-18 accounted for 4% of the new positive cases, and residents between the ages of 19-24 made up 6% of new cases.

In discussing the increases, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli noted reports of large social gatherings as well as the return of some college students to campus.

“We know we are all social beings. We know young people want to socialize. But it must be done safely,” she said.

The coronavirus positivity rate among all other age groups has either been declining or remaining flat, Persichilli said.

MVC chief: ‘Don’t believe everything you read on Facebook’

The head of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission said conditions are not as bad as some residents may hear from friends or on social media.

“These lines are still too long,” said MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “But I do want to say this: don’t believe everything you read on Facebook.”

The MVC was overwhelmed with pent-up demand for services when it reopened two months ago, and it led to long lines and major delays for customers.

Fulton said the commission has been successfully chopping through the backlog, and she urged residents not to camp out at MVC facilities overnight, saying that at most facilities you could show up hours after opening and still be served.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed two laws related to the MVC on Thursday, which will require designated hours to be set aside for seniors and also extend the validity of driver photos.

Murphy asks Wall St. to pay up

The New York Stock Exchange may high-tail it out of New Jersey if the state enacts a proposal to tax stock trades, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

While the exchange has its physical trading floor on Wall St., the vast majority of transactions occur at a data center in Mahwah.

Gov. Murphy said taxing financial transactions was just one idea to help make up for lost revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and if enacted, it would not be permanent.

“The notion that we could all come together and say, ‘OK, we don’t love this idea but we’re prepared to give a little bit of blood to help us all get through this together in one piece for the next couple years’ … I think that’s reasonable,” Murphy said, who was an executive at Goldman Sachs before entering politics.

Although Murphy has expressed support for the idea, a bill to tax financial transactions still has not made it out of the legislature.

Murphy recently proposed a pandemic-era budget that would cut state spending, raise the income tax on millionaires, and borrow $4 billion for state coffers. His proposed budget does not count on a tax on stock trades.

The exchange told clients it was going to run transactions through its backup facility in Chicago for a week as a test, the report said.

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