By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

Gov. Phil Murphy condemned President Trump’s attempt to file a lawsuit against New Jersey over vote-by-mail plans for November.

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, the president filed a lawsuit against Murphy’s administration, alleging that statewide vote-by-mail would be vulnerable to voter fraud, and that Murphy’s executive orders on vote-by-mail are unconstitutional.

“Our democracy is stronger and fairer when all voters have the right not just to cast a ballot, but to cast a ballot in confidence. The president’s campaign is putting itself on record as wanting to delegitimize our November election, instead of working with us to ensure voters’ rights are upheld, alongside public health,” Murphy said at the press briefing. “This goes beyond weaponizing the United States Postal Service to disenfranchise voters. This is now becoming a full-throated propaganda campaign to undermine the election itself.” 

All New Jersey voters will receive a ballot in the mail in the weeks leading up to the election. Voters will have the option of mailing it in, dropping it off in a dropbox set up by their county board of elections, or dropping it off at their regular polling station on Nov. 3. 

Each municipality will have at least one polling station open for in-person voting for provisional ballots and for voters with special needs. 

New Jersey has been using vote-by-mail for several years and that New Jersey had the second-highest primary turnout in history this summer, in spite of the pandemic, Murphy said. 

The governor said that the state’s election plans will go ahead as intended. 

The Trump administration, and current USPS Postmaster Louis DeJoy, have received sharp criticism from the public for removing on-street mailboxes in different cities, and for removing mail sorting equipment from facilities. In response, DeJoy said this week that any changes to postal operations will not be implemented until after the election. 

 

Flu shots

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli urged everyone over the age of six months to get a flu shot this year. 

Persichilli said that the CDC has warned that with flu season coinciding with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the fall and winter months could be very difficult.

The two conditions do share some symptoms, she said. 

She noted that the vaccine does cut down on some of the flu symptoms, which in turn lowers the likelihood of someone needing to be hospitalized, thus freeing up bed space and medical supplies. 

Ed Lifshitz, the Department of Health’s communicable disease services director, said there will be 200 million flu shots available in the United States this year. He said September is typically a good time for people to start getting vaccinated. 

Today’s numbers

As of Aug. 19, New Jersey officials reported 399 new cases, compared to 331 the day before, bringing the state total to 188,427. The positivity rate is at 1.78 percent, and the virus transmission rate is at 1.06, compared to 1.65 percent and 1.05 respectively on Aug. 18.  

Officials also reported 11 new deaths, compared to nine, bringing the state total to 14,097. There are also 1,829 probable COVID-19 deaths, down from 1,839. 

Hospitals reported 471 patients, including 99 critical care and 32 ventilators in use Tuesday night, compared to 468 patients, 106 critical care patients and 41 ventilators Monday night. 

Essex County health officials reported 19,855 total cases, compared to 19,845 cases on Aug. 18: an increase of 10 cases. Two more deaths were reported, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,852. 

Montclair health officials reported one additional case Tuesday, bringing the total to 487. The number of deaths remains at 54.