TRI-BORO, NJ - As we put 2020 into the rearview mirror, and we cast our eyes ahead for what is hopefully a better new year, we hear at Patch are sharing a few storylines to follow as we settle into 2021.
Changes are coming to all police departments in 2021, as the Garden State has made sweeping changes to the use-of-force policies.
New Jersey hadn't updated its statewide use-of-force policies for law enforcement in more than 20 years. But the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May added new urgency to reform the guidelines.
The small-town police model of arresting marijuana users for increased revenue will be a thing of the past in 2021 as New Jersey has moved to legalize the recreational use of the drug. This will be a challenge for municipalities that thrive off of the penalties and fees that this change will eliminate.
But there is also potential here as dispensaries and manufacturing facilities could not only help replace that lost revenue but be a boon to help struggling downtowns as they recover from the decimation of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 vaccine is here and over the next six months as the Garden State moves to become 70 percent inoculated, there will be a lot of talk about supply and demand and what group is getting vaccinated next. COVID-19 vaccination sites popping up across the state very soon — including at your local ShopRite or doctor's office — as New Jersey is putting together a plan for who gets the vaccine next.
There will be more than 200 community COVID vaccine sites across New Jersey; 134 of those sites will be getting the vaccine this week, State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced Monday. There will be 21 county sites, plus the six vaccine "mega-sites," which are:
Atlantic County: Atlantic City Convention Center
Bergen County: Racetrack at Meadowlands, East Rutherford
Burlington County: Moorestown Mall
Gloucester County: Rowan College of South Jersey, Sewell
Middlesex County: New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison
Morris County: Rockaway Townsquare Mall
Those six sites are scheduled to start opening in early January. There will also be 36 sites known as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).
A retail apocalypse that was already hitting New Jersey hard accelerated in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And as the pandemic dragged on, many were forced to close their doors entirely – even as Gov. Phil Murphy restarted the economy following the March shutdowns – while other businesses were able to weather the storm.
This coming year will be a time to support local businesses who survived as they look to recover from the nightmare that was 2020 and to lend a hand to any newcomers looking to stake a claim in the community.
As 2021 begins there is a lot of uncertainty as COVID relief packages and economic stimulus bills are still being decided upon. This could impact state, county and federal budgets which in turn could impact local taxes. Whatever is coming, Patch will be here to tell you how it affects your life and hopefully help navigate some slightly calmer seas in the months to come.
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