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Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R-Denville).

Bergen: Add economic expert to COVID briefings

Assemblyman wants governor to refocus on economic recovery

By Nikita Biryukov, April 20 2020 11:48 am

Assemblyman Brian Bergen wants Gov. Phil Murphy to talk about the economy during daily COVID-19 briefings.

“Someone who needs an introduction at Murphy’s daily briefings is an economic expert giving us a picture of what is happening economically throughout the state,” Bergen said. “New Jersey’s economy has been hit unbelievably hard. While reopening might be a gradual process, we have to know how we’ve been hardest hit if we are going to make good decisions and keep people safe.”

Murphy regularly refers to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli as “the woman who needs no introduction” during briefings.

While the extent of the damage COVID-19 has caused to New Jersey’s economy is unclear, early indications are that the state is in a fiscal tumble.

The budget Gov. Phil Murphy introduced in February has been functionally scrapped, and lawmakers have extended the fiscal year until September 30 amid record numbers of unemployment claims.

More than 700,000 residents have filed unemployment claims over the last four weeks.

Separately, the governor has announced an innovation-focused business recovery team, and New Jersey will cooperate with other state’s in the region on a multi-state recovery plan.

Bergen said New Jersey should look to supermarkets and other places of business that have remained open amid the pandemic to guide the reopening of the state.

“Efforts to date have taught us a lot about what to do,” Bergen said. “We have precedent now for how to do things safely in a retail environment. Essential businesses have led the way in dealing with customers safely through limiting the number of customers in the store at a time, Plexiglas between customers and employees, and touchless credit card transactions.”

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