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The Importance of Government Relations During COVID

November 01, 2020
Once New Jersey was hit with the coronavirus, it took just over a week to jump from the first positive case to the first death. Like the rest of the country, New Jersey had to drastically pivot in a way no one predicted.
 

New Jersey COVID Timeline:

  • March 4: New Jersey has its first positive case of the coronavirus.
  • March 9: Governor Phil Murphy declares a state of emergency.
  • March 10: First death due to the deadly virus.
  • March 12: New Jersey begins shutting down. Courts suspend all new jury trials, NJ transit ridership drops 20%, schools announce shutdowns.
  • March 16: Governor Murphy orders the shutdown of all schools and mobilizes the national guard.
  • March 21: All non-essential businesses are closed indefinitely, and a statewide curfew is implemented.
  • As of October 20: New Jersey has had 222,994 confirmed cases and 16,227 deaths due to COVID.
 
As shown in the timeline above, life in New Jersey came to a standstill in a matter of days. As a result, Governor Murphy and New Jersey lawmakers immediately responded to the impending public health crisis. Both sides of the aisle came together to pass over a dozen new measures and executive orders. Unfortunately, the process went by so fast that stakeholders could not weigh-in as they normally would have during a legislative session.
 
In fact, oftentimes, language for executive orders and new legislation is not made public until after being issued or after lawmakers have already voted because of the short timeframe. Governor Murphy’s emergency health order provided his office with enhanced powers and administrative latitude. New Jersey lawmakers used an emergency provision that temporarily suspended legislative rules resulting in some bills being voted through in one day. While our elected officials had the best intentions when quickly passing emergency measures to help New Jerseyans, there were some unforeseen consequences throughout many industries.  
 
CLB Partners immediately began reviewing all of the new executive orders, legislation, policies, and regulations to figure out how it would ultimately affect our clients. Our team worked with clients to help them sort through confusing language, identify new financial relief opportunities, and navigate this new world. Because of our established government relationships with key decision-makers, we were also able to quickly share our client’s stories with the governor’s office and lawmakers, educate them on some unintended consequences from the new measures, and get revised orders and amendments passed within days.  
 
The government can be hard to figure out on any given day, and the difficulty is only exacerbated when coupled with a pandemic or natural disaster. To best protect your interests, it’s critical to have an experienced team on your side to help you navigate new business requirements, closures, stay-at-home orders, government revenue shortfalls, essential vs. non-essential businesses, personal protective equipment guidelines, social distancing measures, and much more.
 
Businesses and organizations who have never considered hiring a public affairs and government relations firm before now have quickly discovered the benefit of working with a team as successful as CLB Partners. When Congress approved the CARES Act and appropriated over $2.6 trillion in emergency relief funds, there was confusion everywhere. It seemed that no one knew who qualified for the funds, when the funds would be dispersed, how they would be dispersed, or what the funds could be used for. Federal agencies created their own rules, policies, and procedures, and no one knew where to turn for questions. But again, our team at CLB Partners knew exactly who to contact and worked day and night on behalf of our clients. 
 
As hard as the last eight months have been, we are not out of the woods yet. New Jersey has seen a recent spike in COVID cases, leading officials to begin bracing for a second wave. Most recently, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli warned that “this wave has the potential to become a surge.” Governor Murphy went as far as to make a public plea,
 

“Please, please, please continue to do the right thing as millions of you have. And for those of you who haven’t, wake up, for crying out loud. Wake up.” 

Companies and industries are struggling to understand assistance programs already in place, learn about new opportunities available, and communicate to lawmakers what is still needed. And soon, they will have to navigate through the next coronavirus stimulus package to identify all the new services and benefits they can get assistance from. As COVID numbers begin to rise nationwide, you don’t want to wait any longer to find a New Jersey government affairs firm. 
 
You want to make sure you have experts on your side on the ground fighting for your priorities. CLB Partners has been there for our clients long before this pandemic, and we will continue to be there during the difficult road ahead. 
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