TRENTON, N.J. – Only 17 of 21 New Jersey counties will receive some of the $82,202,575 in grants coming to the Garden State from the federal government to combat COVID-19.
Three North Jersey legislators would like to know why.
On Thursday, Democrat U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker announced the breakdown of New Jersey’s share of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package’s first wave. Local governments in Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon and Salem counties all came up empty.
“When we negotiated the largest ever emergency response package in our nation’s history, we demanded that it quickly deliver federal dollars to our communities on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19. Today, we are delivering on that promise and the first installment of what will be billions of dollars flowing from Washington to help our state, our hospitals, our residents and small businesses weather the storm,” said Menendez. “And we cut a whole lot of red tape in this bill so that local leaders can immediately put these dollars to work in the fight against COVID-19, whether it’s keeping our health departments fully staffed or retrofitting facilities for testing or providing grants to struggling businesses and non-profits.”
Residents and businesses in the four excluded counties are still eligible for relief including the paycheck protection program and the $1,200 per adult stimulus for eligible adults.
However, the all-Republican LD24 legislative delegation which hails from Sussex County – Senator Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths – demanded that the state congressional delegation explain why some county and local governments were left out in the cold.
“Our families and businesses in Sussex and Warren counties are suffering just as much as anyone in New Jersey,” the legislators said in a joint Friday statement. “It’s very concerning, and frankly unacceptable, that the communities we represent were overlooked in the first round of federal funding. We urge New Jersey’s congressional delegation to find out why we were left out and ensure that our constituents’ needs are being treated equally.”
The excluded New Jersey counties – all of whom have Republican freeholder boards – combine for 532 positive COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths as of Friday afternoon, approximately the same amount of cases as the entire state of New Mexico (534 cases and 10 deaths) and more cases than 12 other entire U.S. states.
Meanwhile, the government of deeply-Democratic Camden County (which has 406 positive results and 7 deaths) and three municipalities inside its borders (Camden, Cherry Hill and Gloucester Township) are splitting $5,026,517.