Here are the top New Jersey news stories for Friday:

⬛ Will COVID restrictions return for new school year in NJ?

Photo provided by Patti Nowalski
Photo provided by Patti Nowalski

The CDC reports a surge in new COVID cases driven by a new variant.

Some schools in the U.S. have already announced new restrictions.

Will NJ return to masking and social distancing in school?

⬛ Did NJ Gov. Phil Murphy really give out his phone number?

Gov. Phil Murphy is giving out his phone number.

Gov. Phil Murphy, text form
Gov. Phil Murphy (Brian McCarthy) text form (

The governor on his social media platforms admonished people to "get out of my comment section" and text him at 732-605-5455 with questions and comments.

Murphy said he would respond to as many messages as he could and will send out occasional updates about his administration.

⬛ What happened to all the spotted lanternflies in NJ?


A relatively new nuisance for the Garden State appears to be less visible in 2023, but it'd be too soon to declare victory over the spotted lanternfly.

In fact, the Asia-native insect is here to stay. Experts' ultimate goal is to just get the invasive species down to levels that aren't bothersome to people or detrimental to crops and trees.

New Jersey doesn't officially track the presence of the spotted lanternfly on a yearly basis, but, due to reports from experts and residents, officials believe that areas of the state that had huge populations in the past are seeing very low numbers in 2023.

⬛ Is there a Central Jersey? Gov. Murphy draws the lines


Yes, there is a Central Jersey. No, there is not a Central Jersey. Well, which is it?

Settle down, folks, because Gov. Phil Murphy has settled the age-old Central Jersey debate.

Today, the governor signed a bill to promote Central Jersey tourism. The bill requires the Division of Travel and Tourism, within the Department of State, to re-draw the state tourism map to create a “Central Jersey” region and incorporate it in all regional marketing campaigns, including publications and on

⬛ NJ mother, adult son killed in smokey apartment fire

Response to a fire at the Northgate Village Apartments in Burlington Township 8/24/23
Response to a fire at the Northgate Village Apartments in Burlington Township 8/24/23 (NBC Philadelphia)

BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — A mother and son died in an apartment fire early Thursday morning.

Burlington Township police responded to a report of smoke coming from the window of an apartment at the Northgate Village Apartments on the Burlington Bypass around 3 a.m., according to Lt. Arthur Gitten.

Heavy smoke kept the responding officers from forcing their way into the apartment until firefighters arrived.

Top cancer chemical polluters in New Jersey

Examples why 440/287 can be both potentially dangerous, and unnecessarily confusing

As if the traffic on NJ-440 & I-287 isn't bad enough.

Start your day with up-to-the-minute news, traffic and weather for the Garden State.

New Jersey's First News with Eric Scott is the longest running news program in New Jersey. Eric Scott began hosting the program in 1991.

It airs live on New Jersey 101.5 each weekday morning from 5:30 - 6 a.m.

New Jersey's First News with Eric Scott is the winner of the prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast.

National Murrow Award Winner featured

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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