The governor is encouraging all lenders to ‘lower interest ratings, waive late fees, and exercise compassion when people call for financial hardship.’
By Matt Skoufalos | March 28, 2020
Another 2,289 New Jerseyans have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 11,124 cases, Governor Phil Murphy announced Saturday.
Twenty-one new cases originated in Camden County for a local total of 138.
About 20 percent of cases have required hospitalization, officials said.
Camden County also extended its state of emergency indefinitely until the pandemic is brought under control.
The new cases are:
- a Barrington woman in her 30s
- a Bellmawr man in his 40s
- a Berlin Township man in his 60s
- two Camden City women in their 30s and 40s
- two Cherry Hill woman in their 50s and 60s, and two men in their 20s and 60s
- three Gloucester Township men in their 30s, 40s, and 80s, and two women in their 30s and 40s
- a Merchantville woman in her 60s
- a Runnemede woman in her 20s
- a Voorhees woman in her 20s
- three Winslow Township women in their 40s and 60s, and a man in his 40s
Thirty-two more people have died of complications related to the virus, for a total of 140 New Jersey residents since the first case was logged in the state only a few weeks ago.
Murphy urged residents to continue maintaining social distancing, quipping that “no one is getting graded on a curve.
“This is a pass/fail test,” he said. “This is life and death.”
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said that of the deaths reported Saturday, 20 are men and 12 are women, all ranging in age from 30 to 100. No patient was associated with a long-term care facility.
Of the 29,822 tests conducted statewide to date, 10,436 came back positive, or 34.99 percent, Persichilli said. Since the mass testing sites were opened, they have conducted 662 tests, 160 of which were positive.
Investigators are still gathering information on 928 additional cases, Persichilli said.
Relief for mortgage-holders and renters
Murphy also announced a 90-day mortgage payment grace period for borrowers short of income during the pandemic, as well as a 60-day moratorium on mortgage sales, foreclosures, and evictions.
That grace period would likely add a few months of payments to the end of the mortgage rather than a lump sum requirement.
Moreover, “this grace period cannot and will not be used to downgrade anyone’s credit rating, and lenders will also waive any late fees or other costs which would otherwise arise,” the governor said.
The deal was brokered with lenders including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, and Murphy urged anyone who might need to take advantage of the program to call their lenders directly.
“Many New Jersey families can breathe easier, keep their heads above water, and have a place they can continue to call home,” the governor said.
Murphy also urged all credit card companies to “do the right thing in all areas of their businesses,” including lowering interest rates, waiving late fees, and being understanding towards lenders with economic hardships.
The governor doubled down on his executive order stating that all renters are immune to eviction during the pandemic.
“Any landlord getting mortgage relief today, we expect you will in turn provide similar relief to your tenants,” Murphy said. “Now is the time to show some compassion, and to work with your renters to ensure that they stay safe and in their homes.
“This is not the time to be raising rents,” the governor said. “You cannot evict anyone at this time, and if you try to, we will not take it lightly, and we will make an example out of you for violating the law.”
Anyone needing rental assistance is advised to check the state COVID19 website.
Crackdown on violators
The governor also promised that criminal charges would follow for those who don’t adhere to the stay-at-home order, citing a 47-person, deejayed party that police in Ewing Township broke up in a 550-square-foot apartment.
“The organizer was charged, as they should have been, and as they deserve to be,” Murphy said.
“This is not a game,” he said. “We are not going to be shy about naming and shaming those who can’t get this message into their heads.”
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