Rep. Tom Malinowski Rep. Tom Malinowski

Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) has called on Congress to provide federal aid to local and state governments, in an effort to help them cover the cost for essential workers and first responders like firefighters, police officers and teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The HEROES Act would provide $75 billion to help our states conduct the testing and contact tracing that we need if we want to go back to work and school safely,” said Malinowski.

“In my district, I represent 75 small towns. We have more Republican mayors in those towns than Democrats, but this is not partisan in my district. Every one of them would rather spend money to pay our cops and our firefighters and our teachers to do their jobs than spend money to pay for their unemployment.”

Almost 1.2 million New Jersey residents have filed for unemployment since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Out of work employees have received $5.2 billion in state and local unemployment benefits. 

In April, the state’s unemployment rose to 15.3% , the highest it had been since 1976, according to the state labor department. It also exceeded the national average of 14.7%. 

“You want to go to the beach? To the ball game? Fine, so do I. Help the people risking their lives to make it safer for us to do those things. Help the people who are working–who never stop working–to give us liberty without giving us death,” said Malinowski. 

Malinowski said expanding contact tracing and testing for COVID-19 are the key elements for determining when New Jersey will reopen. 

“Unfortunately, the administration’s plan for testing, which we just received, basically states to the states around our country ‘Oh yeah, we’ll give you some supplies but otherwise you’re on your own.’ It’s a shameful abdication of responsibility,” said Malinowski. 

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Thursday that the public-health emergency in New Jersey is extended by another 30 days, including orders to remain in place to respond to the virus.