IKEA gives EDA $2.3M — matching unemployment payout furloughed employees received

    IKEA Retail U.S. donated $2.3 million to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to support the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.

    The $2.3 million total is the amount that IKEA’s New Jersey workers received in unemployment benefits and other supports during the month in which they were furloughed this spring.

    “We are grateful to IKEA for its ‘pay it forward’ thinking, and the EDA is proud to accept this donation so they can help small businesses across the state weather this storm,” Murphy said.

    More notes from Murphy’s COVID-19 briefing:

    Health metrics

    Murphy announced there were an additional 313 positive cases, for a statewide total of 188,817.

    The state also announced an additional 13 fatalities — 10 of which have occurred across the previous five days. The state fatality total is now 14,112, with an additional 1,829 probable deaths.

    Other numbers, as of 10 p.m. Thursday:

    • Patients: 221 confirmed patients, plus 193 listed as Persons Under Investigation;
    • Those in intensive care: 61;
    • Those on ventilators: 30;
    • Daily positivity: 1.42% (from Aug. 17);
    • Rate of transmission: 1.04.

    Contact tracing

    Murphy said the state continues to build its Community Contact Tracing Corps — adding 83 contact tracers this week to increase the statewide total to 1,612. Unfortunately, they are not being able to do their job.

    Murphy said more than half of the people the contact tracers are getting in touch with are refusing to cooperate.

    “This is highly disturbing, to say the least,” he said. “I reiterate, our contact tracers only care about protecting public health — they care about protecting you and your family and friends.

    “Consider it another piece of personal responsibility that we must take to defeat this virus.”

    Utility shutoffs

    Murphy said the state’s public water, gas, and electric companies have agreed to an extension of the moratorium against service shutoffs. This voluntary moratorium now runs through Oct. 15 and applies to both residential and commercial customers. However, customers may receive a shutoff notice after Sept. 15.

    In addition, gas and electric utilities are also offering deferred payment agreements of anywhere from 12 to 24 months, with no down payments required.

    Census update

    The state now has a 66% response rate. Murphy wants more.

    “Having an accurate census count is critical for us being properly represented in Washington, and for us receiving tens of billions of dollars in federal funds for programs that impact every community across our state — from health care to education, transportation to food security, and even our statewide recovery from COVID-19,” he said.

    Go to 2020Census.gov to be counted.

    Final word

    It was a mild-mannered Murphy “Get the hell off the beach” moment — in response to fewer than half of residents taking calls from contact tracers.

    Please, folks, take the damn call.”

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