TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - New Jersey's senior senator joined the governor's daily COVID-19 briefing to address the big question so many Garden State residents want to know: When will New Jersey reopen?
Sen. Bob Menendez stressed in order for that to happen, there needs to be universal testing, resources for contact tracing and financial support from the federal government, reports CBS2's Cory James.
"New Jersey can't do it alone, a national emergency requires a national response," noted Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday. "The sooner we get to that, the more important it is for us opening our economy and getting our lives back."
Menedez says he has recently unveiled a bipartisan state and municipal aid for recovery.
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He is calling it the State and Municipal Aid for Recovery and Transition Fund and believes if passed in the House, it will help the state transition out of the current crisis.
The SMART Fund provides states with $500 billion in flexible funding, with priority given to the areas of our country with the greatest need.
"Not only that, we fixed the problem with $150 billion in state stabilization funds that Congress authorized in the cares that a SMART Fund will retroactively overturn the US Treasuries erroneously restrictive guidance, giving states like New Jersey, maximum flexibility to respond to its most urgent needs," said Menendez.
Those needs are securing essential services like fire, police, and EMS.
Meanwhile, as that work happens in congress Murphy is working to get control of the COVID-19 spread.
Hospitalizations are down to 4,195 and newly confirmed COVID-19 cases were 1,453 for the past 24 hours.
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While Murphy says this is relatively good news, he says the number of deaths across the state and at long-term care facilities is still high. Overnight there were 59 reported deaths statewide related to coronavirus illness.
"These are the reasons why we must be careful and responsible in our restart and recovery," said Murphy. "If we started the road back too quickly, we know we'll have to remember many more than we need to."
Since the outbreak began in New Jersey, 9,310 people have died.
Murphy is hoping the SMART Fund Menendez put together will get bipartisan support.
The senator said he plans to announce the number of his Republican colleagues who plan to support the bill by the end of the week.
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