Lakewood Briefs – January 3, 2021


Reported COVID Cases Remain in 300s Range

The level of reported COVID cases in Lakewood remained steady last week totaling 356. The previous week ended with a total of 370 cases.

During each month since Succos, the town has seen an increase of roughly 100 in reported cases per week. As the level reached the mid to high 300s, hospitalizations have increased as well, from an average of two or three per week for most of November and early December to roughly one per day over the past three weeks.

Arrest Made in Stabbing of Lakewood Man

The woman who stabbed a member of the Orthodox community last Tuesday was taken into police custody and charged.

According to the Lakewood Police Department, Erika Cruz, a 38 year old homeless woman stabbed the victim from behind while he was loading items into his car. The event occurred at around 9:00 a.m. in a parking lot near the intersection of Cedarbridge and Ashley Avenues.

The victim chased down the assailant and detained her until police arrived. Police say the attack seemed random and did not suspect it was motivated by bias. An early report claimed the attacker was mentally unstable.

The victim suffer a light wound and was released from the hospital shortly after he was treated.

Cruz has been charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. She is presently being held at the Ocean County Jail. The investigation is ongoing.

Rep. Smith Welcomes Passage of Bill to Elevate Envoy for Combatting Anti-Semitism to Ambassador Status

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) welcomed the passage of a bill to elevate the position of the State Department’s Anti-Semitism Special Envoy to ambassador status. The congressman authored legislation that created the original position as well as the present bill together with several co-sponsors.

“My new law will raise the Special Envoy to the rank of Ambassador, and enable him or her to report directly to the Secretary of State,” said rep. Smith. “That will give the Special Envoy more seniority and diplomatic access—both inside the U.S. Government and when engaging foreign governments—that is needed do the job effectively.”

The bill is intended to ensure that the envoy post will be promptly fill by administrations. The bill came after the position remained vacant for more than two years after President Donald Trump’s inauguration until it was eventually filled by the present envoy, Elan Carr. In addition to requiring the envoy to report directly to the Secretary of State, the bill also prevents him from being “double-hatted” with duties outside of his portfolio to observe, report, and advocate on matters of international anti-Semitism.

The measure was passed by the Senate several weeks ago and now awaits the President’s signature for it to become law.

Toms River MVC Closes after COVID Exposure

The Motor Vehicles Commission office located in Toms River closed last week after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The office will undergo sanitation and is set to remain closed until January 12. The Toms River MVC office is the closest location for many services such as license renewals. Since it re-opened after being closed by the pandemic outbreak, guidelines designed to limit capacity in the building have led to multi-hour wait times for service.

Congressman Smith and Kim Vote to Override Veto of Defense Spending Bill

Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Andy Kim (D-NJ) voted to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a bill to authorize defense spending for 2021.

President Trump vetoed the measure as a protest over issues tangentially connected to defense spending such as protections for large social media companies and to oppose moves to re-name certain military bases that presently bear the names of Civil War generals who fought for the Confederacy.

Yet, as the bill is viewed as essential to national security, the veto was easily overridden by a vote in the House of Representatives of 322 to 87, joined by the entire Democratic caucus and 108 Republicans.

In a statement after the veto override, Rep. Kim specifically referenced the importance of the bill to the Joint Base, which is in his district.

“Democrats and Republicans should always be able to come together for our national security, and that’s exactly what happened today,” he said. “This bill is too important for our country and for our community. Our service members at the Joint Base will now get the raise they deserve, and our Joint Base will see new construction and continued progress on missions that will keep it strong for years to come. I hope as we enter a new Congress, that we can continue to put aside partisanship and do what’s right for our troops.”