New Jersey officials are proceeding with caution as COVID-19 cases decline in the Garden State, saying they are determined to get the reopening balancing act right the first time.
Governor Phil Murphy outlined his 'Road Back' for New Jersey at a press briefing Monday afternoon, saying the state must secure widespread testing and contact tracing and see a substantial decline in new cases and hospitalizations before getting too far down the path of reopening.
Barring progress in those areas, Murphy says his stay-home executive order will remain in effect until "further notice" and he offered no timetable for reopening.
While the COVID-19 curve continues to descend in New Jersey, Gov. Murphy says the state needs at least two weeks of data affirming those numbers before taking major steps towards an economic restart.
Murphy repeated the mantra over the course of the news conference that "public health creates economic health."
"People need to know first and foremost that their health — your health — will be safeguarded from COVID-19," he said.
'The Road Back' for New Jersey includes six signposts, according to the governor:
- Sustained reduction in new cases
- Expanded testing
- Implement robust contact tracing
- Securing safe places for isolation
- Responsible economic restart
- Ensuring resiliency
Like other Tri-State-area governments, New Jersey is working to bulk up its testing capacity and contribute to the "army of contact tracers" that will be employed to triangulate COVID outbreaks in the region.
"We only want to do this once," he added.
Addressing the need for federal aid, Murphy turned to U.S. Rep Tom Malinowski of the state's 7th District.
Malinowski joined a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers condemning Sen. Mitch McConnell's "blue state bailout" comment and questioned the Trump administration's reluctance so far to send financial aid to state's hit hard by the pandemic.
As of Monday, New Jersey had confirmed more than 111,100 coronavirus cases and over 6,000 COVID-19 deaths, the second-most in the nation behind New York.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — whose own state's COVID hospitalization curve is believed to be a few days ahead of New Jersey's — suggested earlier Monday that reopening could commence in some lesser-impacted New York counties as early as mid-May.
Photo: Getty Images