Every New Jerseyan has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way. During the public health emergency, the state, businesses and individuals were faced with new and urgent issues. AARP New Jersey has been tracking and advocating on some of the most pressing and important issues to YOU. Below is a summary of some of AARP New Jersey’s staff and volunteers’ work fighting on behalf of you and all New Jerseyans.
AARP New Jersey Fights For Residents and Staff at Long-Term Care Facilities
Early in the pandemic, AARP New Jersey fought for more to be done to protect residents and staff of long-term care facilities, and to increase communication between families and nursing homes.
In addition to calling for more transparency, AARP New Jersey urged the state to take these immediate actions to slow the spread of the virus and save lives:
- Monitor the deployment of the National Guard and other medical personnel to long-term care facilities to ensure safe staffing levels.
- Ensure care facilities have the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Implement universal testing for all long-term care facility residents and staff to identify cases and prevent the spread of the virus.
- Establish a reliable and responsive point of contact in each facility for families, and ensure they regularly report to families about the number of known COVID-19 positive cases among residents and staff, mortalities in the facility, and any reductions in staffing levels compared to staffing levels before the declaration of the state emergency.
- Require virtual visitation be made available and facilitated between residents and their families.
The state began to publicly report COVID-19 positive cases and deaths at long-term care facilities and eventually called in the National Guard for assistance. The state also engaged Carol Rafael and Cindy Mann of Manatt Health, a nationally recognized professional services firm, to review and share a report on the state’s long-term care facilities and make recommendations for immediate and long-term action.
“If the last months have taught us anything, this is not a report that can sit on the shelf,” said AARP’s Director of Advocacy, Evelyn Liebman. “We all have a stake in ensuring these recommendations are implemented with deliberate speed.”
AARP New Jersey Fights for Property Tax Extensions
During this time of financial uncertainty, many New Jersey residents need help just to meet their basic needs. And with more than 1 million New Jerseysans filing for unemployment during the pandemic – AARP called on the Governor to extend the property tax deadline to promote public health, financial relief and peace of mind for Garden State residents.
Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 130, which allowed municipalities to extend the quarterly property tax payment deadline from May 1 to June 1. AARP New Jersey then urged municipalities to extend the deadline for residents.
AARP New Jersey Provides Recommendations for July 7 Primary & November 3 General Election
AARP New Jersey sent a formal letter to Governor Phil Murphy with recommendations that would allow people to vote safely from home for the upcoming primary and general elections. According to U.S. Census Bureau data for the 2016 presidential election, 71 percent of Americans over the age of 65 voted. That’s compared with just 46 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds. Moreover, people over the age of 65 show up to the polls far more than any other age group. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made it abundantly clear that people over 65 years of age, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19.
AARP New Jersey called on the state to protect all New Jersey voters, election officials, and volunteers who staff polling locations, many of whom are retirees. On May 15, the Governor significantly expanded New Jerseyans ability to vote from home. Older New Jerseyans should not have to risk their lives or their health to exercise their right to vote.
For more information on voting from home for the primary election on July 7, visit aarp.org/NJVotes2020.
AARP New Jersey Fights for Reliable and Affordable Utility Services During COVID-19 Pandemic
AARP New Jersey shared a formal letter with the Governor and Board of Public Utilities calling for a re-evaluation of all non-essential utility expenditures during the pandemic. In these times of economic stress, we urged that all utility spending plans that could raise rates be re-visited during this critical juncture.
During these difficult economic times we requested the Board of Public Utilities:
- Examine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on essential regulated utility services and require all regulated utilities to provide data on the impact on demand, supply, and projects slated but not undertaken.
- Require utility rate case increase requests to be refiled to reflect new, lower interest rates and order utilities not in a rate case to re-file their rates to reflect the new lower interest rates.
As our neighbors as well as our economy recovers from the lasting effects of the pandemic, AARP New Jersey believes that regulatory emphasis in the near term should be primarily placed on the affordability of household utilities.