Lakewood Briefs – April 29, 2021

LAKEWOOD -

Ocean County Now Has Ample Supply of COVID Vaccines

After months of tight supply, Ocean County now has an abundance of COVID vaccines, and many sites have switched over to accommodate walk-in service.

As in most parts of the county, the early stage of the vaccine roll-out saw demand far outpacing supply in Ocean County.

Over the past few months, pharmaceutical companies have massively increased production and with it states have opened eligibility. Now, anybody over 16 years of age who lives or works in New Jersey is eligible for some of the vaccine options. The age limit for the Moderna vaccine is 18.

“In Ocean County, we have plenty of vaccine available and you can pretty much call up today and if you want to get a vaccination shot, we’ll be able to get you a shot sometime tomorrow,” Commissioner Director Gary Quinn said at a meeting as reported by the Asbury Park Press. “So we’re asking people to please get the word out, because a lot of people are still sitting out there on the fence, not sure whether or not they want to do it or not, or are not believing that it’s available.”

The county also has supply of some 10,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The company’s shot, which requires only one dose, was paused due to concerns over reports of blood clotting. Two weeks ago, after studies showed that the rate of incidence was less than one in one million recipients, the FDA cleared the way for the vaccine to proceed on the market.

CHEMED has been a major provider of vaccines to Lakewood and surrounding areas since the initial roll-out. Starting last week, the county’s central vaccine center, the RWJ Barnabas Health Arena in Toms River began serving walk-ins.

Toms River Moves to Ban Marijuana Businesses

Toms River’s town council voted to begin the process of banning marijuana businesses following an approach taken by several surrounding townships.

New Jersey’s move to legalize recreational use of the drug, leaves an option for municipalities to set regulations or ban its manufacture and sale in their boarder, but they must act before August. Should they fail to put laws in place by the deadline, the state’s full legalization would leave the business legal and with few regulations.

The measure was approved by five out of six of the town’s council members. It would ban marijuana businesses for a five-year period. Several of the council members said that they do not necessarily intend to leave the drug fully banned and might make adjustments, but that they wanted to ensure that regulations are up to local authorities rather than the state.

Lakewood and Brick have both voted to ban marijuana businesses as well. Toms River has yet to schedule a final vote on the measure.

Ocean County Legislators Protest Law Allowing Illegal Immigrants to Get Drivers Licenses

Legislative representatives for Toms River and other towns in Southern Ocean County decried the enactment of a state policy that will grant drivers licenses to illegal immigrants in New Jersey.

“Murphy’s agenda has always focused on making New Jersey more accommodating to undocumented immigrants, including his plan to commit $40 million to illegal immigrants revealed this month. It is insulting to hard-working families when state leadership demands tax money from them and uses it to promote a political agenda,” said Senator Jim Holzapfel.

During the Trump administration, which placed tremendous emphasis on curbing illegal immigration and border security, several Democratic states pursued policies seeking to protect and support illegal immigrants. The Murphy administration initiated programs to grant millions of dollars in legal aid to people who entered the county illegally as well as a measure that came into effect this week, allowing them to acquire driver’s licenses.

For much of the COVID pandemic, Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) offices have seen extremely long wait times as they attempt to limit the number of people inside buildings, They have also closed for a week or more each time an employee tested positive for the virus. The legislators said that political issues aside, it did not seem like an opportune time to add more work for the MVC.

“The Motor Vehicle Commission’s performance has been abysmal throughout the pandemic. Offices have been closing left and right and people have faced excruciatingly long lines to conduct basic transactions,” said Assemblyman Greg McGuckin. “It is clear MVC has been in over their heads since before COVID, and the influx of almost a half-million ‘new’ drivers seeking licenses will create even more problems. This is a bad idea, and once again, New Jersey residents will be left holding the bag.”

Ocean County to Place Flags as Tribute to Police

Ocean County plans a tribute to law enforcement officers over the upcoming Memorial Day with a display of over 100 flags.

The flags will be white with blue and black strips and will bear the words, “Ocean County Supports Law Enforcement.” They will be displayed to mark National Police Week and Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15.

Last month, the county’s sheriff, Michael Mastronardy, requested painting a blue line down part of Hooper Avenue in downtown Toms River that is home to much of the area’s government and central law enforcement agencies. The suggestion followed moves by other municipalities that sought to voice support for local law enforcement amid anti-police protests and rhetoric mostly emerging form urban centers. The plan for the blue line was rejected after local officials determined that it might run afoul of state guidelines on public roads. While the idea was under discussion, a Toms River man was charged with criminal mischief for paining his own blue line without authorization.