As the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission reaches the two-month mark since reopening its doors, customers are still being met with long, frustrating lines outside nearly every location. With these concerns in mind, Gov. Phil Murphy revealed his plan to solve the issue.
“Last night, I was proud to sign into law two bills that will make the MVC experience a little easier for many people,” Murphy said. “(The bills will allow) for more transactions to be conducted online, giving older New Jerseyans and residents with special needs greater access to in-agency services, and extending the deadline for new residents to get their new licenses and vehicle registrations.”
The MVC decided to reopen July 7 after nearly four months of closed doors due to COVID-19. Despite best efforts by the commission to limit frustration by instituting systems like text message notifications and express lines, residents have still been met with massive wait times and capacity caps every day since the reopen date.
Joining the governor at his Friday press briefing was NJMVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton, who reassured residents that the commission is doing everything in its power to make things run more seamlessly in the future.
“Our folks have been working tirelessly to implement new systems, process transactions faster than before and to keep everyone safe,” Fulton said. “Please understand — we will never stop trying harder to serve you, to get better, to have better systems and continue to innovate while protecting you from fraud, identity theft and COVID-19.”
Other notes from Friday’s COVID-19 briefing:
Another 518 positive test results were reported across the state, bringing the cumulative total of positive cases to 195,888. Five deaths were reported as well, which puts the statewide total at 14,234 deaths that have been confirmed to be from COVID-related complications.
All five deaths reported Friday occurred more than two months ago. The number of probable deaths has risen by six, for a total for 1,789 awaiting investigation. In New Jersey hospitals yesterday, there were another eight reported deaths, but they have not yet been lab-confirmed, so are not included in the cumulative total.
Other hospital numbers:
- In hospital: 482 (240 confirmed cases, 242 under investigation);
- In ICU: 81;
- On ventilators: 36;
- Rate of transmission: 08;
- Positivity rate: 60% (from Sept. 7).
New Jersey census update
The governor also provided an optimistic update on New Jersey’s 2020 Census efforts leading up to the Sept. 30 deadline.
“Our census efforts have now exceeded those of 2010, with more New Jerseyans having self-responded this year than they did 10 years ago,” Murphy said. “The census is critical for us to prepare for a strong future for our state, as our results are how billions of dollars in federal funds are directed, as well as affecting our representation in Congress.”
As of today, 67.9% of New Jersey households have self-responded, which marks an increase from the 2010 peak of 67.6%. Eleven different counties already have beaten their totals from 2010, with many others expected to beat that mark in the coming days.
With the additional responses counted from door-to-door census takers, 89.2% of households have already been counted. Residents who have not yet responded can do so at 2020Census.gov.
Although many have already reported, Murphy emphasized the need to continue working on getting the state entirely covered.
“Even though we’ve passed 2010, we’re not stopping until every New Jerseyan is counted,” Murphy said. “Responding to the census is quick, is important and is our civic duty.
Hospital voter registration
The governor also announced that, in an effort to increase voter turnout in the state, University Hospital in Newark has partnered with nonprofit organization VotER to give patients the opportunity to register to vote.
The hospital’s emergency department has put up a kiosk that will allow both patients and visitors to easily access an online portal that will take them through the voter registration process. Additionally, the machine will be able to print out voter applications for users to send in. This is the first hospital in the state of New Jersey to adopt such a program.
Murphy praised the hospital for helping the state make the final push for registration.
“I commend University Hospital President Dr. Shereef Elnahal and resident Dr. Robert Adrian for their efforts to bring VotER to New Jersey,” Murphy said. “There is a direct connection between civic engagement and public health, and we all hope that this kiosk is just another step to ensuring a healthy democracy.”
Murphy on the 19th anniversary of the September 11th World Trade Center attack:
“We were knocked down 19 years ago today, but we got back up and showed the world how our nation — even when in shock and stricken with grief — comes together. And, perhaps, with everything we have been facing over these past six months, this is the most pertinent of anniversaries, because we are now forced to marshal that inner strength again.”
Murphy on the recent California wildfires:
“I am proud that we will be deploying, through the New Jersey Forest Fire Service, three fire engines and one additional support vehicle, along with 10 firefighters, to California. They need every hand on deck — and New Jersey will answer the call.”