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Pandemic Preparedness Experts
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Friday, May 21, 2021

NJ Announces Intention to End COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

As New Jersey continues to make progress in the fight against COVID-19 and with state metrics continuing to trend in the right direction, Governor Phil Murphy and his Administration have begun working with Senate President Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Coughlin on legislation that will end the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in place since March 2020, while also ensuring that the Administration retains necessary tools to manage the ongoing threat to public health, as well as recovery and vaccination efforts.

Implications for Workers' Compensation

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency triggers workers’ compensation presumptions of causal relationship for essential workers. The extension of the presumptions may be incorporated into undefined legislation that has yet to be introduced. Additionally, the public opening of workers’ compensation hearing offices could possibly be integrated into the legislation.

The Public Health Emergency was initially declared on March 9, 2020 through Executive Order No. 103. Today, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 240, which extends that Public Health Emergency for another 30-day period, ending in mid-June. Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days unless renewed. If legislation is finalized ahead of the renewal date, the Public Health Emergency extended today will be allowed to expire.

Mitigation Efforts

“After an extremely difficult year, we are seeing the results of our mitigation efforts and our successful vaccination program,” said Governor Murphy. “In order to continue on the path to normalcy, we need all available resources to continue our progress in vaccinating New Jerseyans and finally beating back this pandemic. Our Administration is working closely with Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Coughlin on legislation that will allow the public health emergency to expire, but ensure that we have the necessary tools and flexibility to continue the fight against the pandemic, including the vaccination efforts that are our highest priority. By working together, we are confident that we can move to the next phase of our recovery effort."

“This marks real progress as we work to emerge from the worst public health crisis of our lifetime,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “It’s the beginning of the end of a crisis that has tragically claimed the lives of an unimaginable number of New Jerseyans and impacted the lives and livelihoods of nearly everyone. The worst is behind us, and now is the time to move forward to restore the quality of life for the people of New Jersey. The Governor has done a good job managing the emergency and the Legislature worked hard throughout the shutdown to help those who suffered the consequences of the pandemic. We will work in partnership with the Governor and the Assembly to overcome the many challenges ahead. The new normal won’t be normal for some time. We have to make the best use of our resources, our abilities and our determination to address the needs of our citizens.” 

Return to Normalcy

“I am very encouraged by the data we are seeing and I look forward to a return to normalcy for the State of New Jersey and our over nine million residents,” said Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin. “Our state has shown remarkable resilience during this pandemic. I will work closely with the Governor and Senate President to produce legislation that enables us to safely and responsibly reopen our state as we seek to spur the economy and create jobs. We will come back stronger than ever.” 

For the full text of Executive Order No. 240, click here.

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Jon L. Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 has been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Blog: Workers ' Compensation
Twitter: jongelman
LinkedIn: JonGelman
LinkedIn Group: Injured Workers Law & Advocacy Group
Author: "Workers' Compensation Law" Thomson-Reuters