NEW JERSEY – Gov. Phil Murphy has signed eight bills into law, creating a big testing expansion for New Jersey now that cases have been on the rise.
Murphy has signed legislation sponsored by Senators Vin Gopal and Linda Greenstein that authorizes pharmacists to order and administer tests for COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibodies.
The law comes as Murphy also announced that New Jersey will double its testing capacity after the Trump administration promised to supply the Garden State with millions of additional coronavirus tests. Read more: Gov. Murphy: NJ Gets 2.6M More Tests That Could Be ‘Game Changer’
The testing expansion recognizes “the vital importance of rapid, accurate and widely available testing to the ongoing battle to limit the spread of the coronavirus,” lawmakers said.
The testing expansion also comes as New Jersey has had its highest daily case numbers in months. Murphy said expanding the state’s testing capacity has had something to do with it, but some areas of the state also have had outbreaks. Read more: Gov. Murphy: NJ May Stop Reopenings If COVID-19 Cases Keep Rising
The number of cases rose to 209,342 on Tuesday, and 14,360 confirmed deaths have been reported. Gov. Murphy announced 651 new coronavirus cases and nine more deaths. Read more: NJ Coronavirus Updates: Here’s What You Need To Know
Murphy also signed several bills that make his tax hikes in the revised 2020-21 budget officially the law of the land. Read more: 4 New NJ Tax Hikes Take Effect: Millionaires, Gas Tax
Under the testing bill, S-2436, a pharmacist would be required to ensure compliance with all state and federal requirements concerning a positive test for COVID-19.
“New Jersey’s pharmacists serve on the frontlines of every health care challenge facing our state, and they are well-positioned to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities at this critical time,” said Gopal, D-Monmouth. “Pharmacists are uniquely suited to aid in this fight and to help mitigate the spread of disease. They are trusted healthcare professionals who have long established relationships with their patients, with other health care professionals and within their communities.”
Pharmacists would also be required, in the event of a positive test, to advise the patient on next steps, including practicing self-isolation and potentially seeking further treatment.
“Over these months of the coronavirus pandemic, rapid, reliable testing has emerged as a key component in fighting back against COVID-19,” said Greenstein, D-Mercer/Middlesex. “In New Jersey, we are proud to enlist our many skilled, capable and compassionate pharmacists in this fight.”
Also, Murphy signed SJR92, which designates September of each year as “Safe Haven Awareness Month” in New Jersey.
“Safe haven sites are designated in communities across this state so that new moms and dads can surrender their babies safely and anonymously,” said Murphy. “I am proud to sign this legislation to bring awareness to the Safe Haven Act and thank my legislative partners and the Department of Children and Families for their work on this critical issue.”
For more information about Safe Haven, go to www.njsafehaven.org.
SJR92, Murphy said, will bring awareness of the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows an individual to surrender an unwanted infant without fear of arrest or prosecution.
Here’s what Murphy signed into law:
S-908 wGR/A-2480 (Singleton, Oroho/Murphy, Wirths, Schepisi) – Clarifies association assessment payment requirements in planned real estate developments.
S-2436 wGR/A-4012 (Gopal, Greenstein/Mukherji, Benson, Houghtaling) – Authorizes pharmacists to order and cause to be administered test for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) or COVID-19 antibodies; requires health benefits and Medicaid coverage for tests.
SJR-57/AJR-39 (Gopal, Oroho, Greenstein/Houghtaling, Downey, Wirths) – Designates first week of October of each year as Manufacturing Week.
A-10/S-2949 (Coughlin, Giblin/Addiego, Greenstein) – Increases gross income tax rate from 8.97 percent to 10.75 percent on income between $1,000,000 and $5,000,000, and provides up to $500 tax rebate to eligible taxpayers
A-4721/S-2934 (Sumter/Sweeney) – Imposes CBT surtax at rate of 2.5 percent until December 31, 2023
A-4722/S-2935 (McKeon/Pou) – Increases annual assessment on net written premiums of HMOs to support charity care from three percent to five percent in FY 2021
S-2178/A-3292 (Vitale, Rice/Vainieri Huttle, Reynolds-Jackson, Jasey) – Repeals family cap in Work First New Jersey program
This article originally appeared on the Mahwah Patch