It may be great for working folks, but a real obstacle for the people who hire them: Despite challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey's minimum wage is still scheduled to increase by a dollar, to $12 an hour, as of Jan. 1 ... which is Friday.

If you were not already operating under the assumption that the novel coronavirus has been mutating for months, the governor of Colorado announced Tuesday the first known case in the U.S. of the mutation that has popped up in parts of the UK. The variant was found in a man in his 20s with no travel history. He is in isolation.

Gov. Murphy says he has no intentions of pulling rank and pushing himself to the head of the line to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Murphy said Tuesday he recognizes there is some benefit to public figures getting the vaccine as a way to encourage others to do so, but with the vaccine in short supply right now, he and other top Jersey officials will have to wait.

For now, you are not getting $2,000 payments out of the latest round of coronavirus relief. Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked the swift vote proposed by Democrats, as the GOP splits over whether to boost spending or defy the Trump White House. However, your initial $600 could be showing up as soon as today.

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday bashed the Trump administration for failing to come through on its promise of 20 million vaccines by the end of the year, which is tomorrow. Biden says we are losing valuable time, and he believes the death toll of Americans due to the coronavirus will hit 400,000 by the time President Trump leaves office.

A member of Gov. Murphy's cabinet will leave the administration to work in the Biden White House. The President-elect has named Carole Johnson, commissioner of the state Department of Human Services, as the testing coordinator of a new federal COVID-19 response team. Her focus will not only be on tests, but also vaccinations and the supply chain.

Joe Biden thinks Donald Trump could make a huge difference in the fight against the coronavirus if, in these next couple of weeks, he were to actively urge Americans to wear masks. Biden has already floated a 100-day mask mandate upon taking office, and thinks President Trump would do well to follow the example of his friend Chris Christie, after both men had COVID in the fall.

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New Jersey is moving forward with COVID-19 vaccinations at its three veterans care homes, and one big Jersey venue was approved to serve as a mass vaccination site: the Atlantic City Convention Center, starting in mid-January.

Just days before he would have been sworn into office, an incoming Louisiana congressman, just 41 years old, has died of complications from COVID-19. Luke Letlow had won a runoff election earlier this month. The Republican was admitted to a Louisiana hospital 11 days ago after testing positive for the coronavirus, and never recovered.

As law enforcement officials continue to investigate a possible motive for the Christmas Day Nashville bombing, authorities in New Jersey are ramping up security to try and stop any type of similar attack here, though they say none is imminent.

While there has been no arrest in the hit-and-run death of an 81-year-old woman on Christmas Eve in Jackson, the family of Phyllis Shtab is intensifying efforts to find Sammi the dog, who was riding with Phyllis and her husband Norman, who was driving, and has gone missing from a mobile home park where the dog was brought after being treated for injuries.

With baseball bat and bullhorn, he personified tough love to students, and used that approach to crack down on drugs and crime at Paterson's Eastside High School. Joe Clark's story spurred the 1989 movie "Lean on Me," starring Morgan Freeman as the educator and administrator. Clark died Tuesday at his Florida home. He was 82.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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