TRENTON, N.J. — New claims for unemployment soared in New Jersey last week, an indication of how deeply shutdowns related to the coronavirus are cutting into the workforce and the economy. And the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has issued new guidelines banning weddings, funerals and most baptisms.

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The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that it received 155,815 new claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending March 21. That’s a 1,546% increase over the prior week.

State officials said it is the largest spike they can recall. Initial claims exceeded 46,000 in a single week after Superstorm Sandy in November 2012, and shot up to 25,385 for a week in July 2010, the low point of the last recession.

New Jersey has temporarily suspended a requirement that applicants look for other jobs. It also created a jobs portal — — to match those who are looking for work with immediate openings in industries fighting the pandemic.

An extension of benefits beyond the currently allowable 26 weeks “is all but certain,” according to the labor department.



Cardinal Joseph Tobin, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, issued new guidelines further restricting church sacraments during the outbreak. In guidance issued Wednesday, he said all wakes and funerals must be postponed until further notice, with no exceptions allowed. All weddings are likewise postponed, as are most baptisms and reconciliations except in cases of “extreme emergency.” All churches must be locked.



As of Wednesday, New Jersey had nearly 3,700 cases, according to Gov. Phil Murphy. There have been 44 deaths. Updated statistics will be released Thursday afternoon.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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