Global Statistics

All countries
99,436,247
Confirmed
Updated on January 24, 2021 3:42 pm
All countries
71,279,596
Recovered
Updated on January 24, 2021 3:42 pm
All countries
2,132,392
Deaths
Updated on January 24, 2021 3:42 pm

Global Statistics

All countries
99,436,247
Confirmed
Updated on January 24, 2021 3:42 pm
All countries
71,279,596
Recovered
Updated on January 24, 2021 3:42 pm
All countries
2,132,392
Deaths
Updated on January 24, 2021 3:42 pm

Gov. Murphy Expects NJ Reopening to Begin Within Weeks

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Gov. Philip Murphy warned that the state faces financial “Armageddon” — and could be unable to pay teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Credit…Ted Shaffrey/Associated Press

Gov. Philip D. Murphy on Monday sketched out benchmarks New Jersey will have to reach before the coronavirus lockdown can be lifted, even as he warned of a financial “Armageddon” that could leave the state unable to pay its teachers, firefighters and police officers.

The stay-at-home order will remain fully in place until further notice, but the governor said he expected the timeline for reopening to be measured in weeks, not months.

He also said that schools might reopen before the end of June. “There is a chance that we could get back in school,” he said in an interview Monday morning on CNBC.

Hours later, at a media briefing, Mr. Murphy laid out four broad metrics that will be used to determine when and how businesses can begin to reopen.

He said the approach required success on several fronts: a 14-day decline in new coronavirus cases and hospitalization rates; expanded testing; a robust ability to trace people who have had contact with those infected with the virus; and an increased availability of places, such as hotels, where the sick can remain in isolation, free of charge.

“A plan that is needlessly rushed,” he said, “will needlessly fail.”

When pressed on the timing of a phased-in reopening, he was noncommittal, but suggested it could come by Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer at the Jersey Shore.

“I want to see the shore humming throughout the summer,” he said.

Still, social distancing is likely to be the norm for months to come, including on beaches, he said.

He said a commission whose members would be announced on Tuesday will be responsible for guiding decision-making. The reopening, he cautioned, would not necessarily mirror the slow wave of shutdowns that began in mid-March.

“Don’t expect a LIFO strategy — last in, first out,” he said.

Mr. Murphy, a Democrat, gave few specifics about what sectors of the economy might be first to reopen, but he said his “bias” was toward making decisions that applied statewide, not region by region.

New Jersey has had the second highest number of cases of the coronavirus in the country, behind only New York. As of Monday, at least 6,044 people had died with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, and more than 111,000 people had tested positive.

Without a larger infusion of federal money, New Jersey’s finances remain bleak, Mr. Murphy said, leaving the state potentially unable to pay public sector workers.

“That’s the sort of Armageddon that we’re looking at,” he said on CNBC.

By last week, a staggering 858,000 residents had filed for unemployment benefits, up from 84,000 for the same time period last year. Many others were still having trouble filing; the system remained bogged down by antiquated technology and extraordinarily high usage.

If schools were to reopen, the governor said there would most likely be rules in place to limit large assemblies and require students and teachers to wear masks.

He said he expected that many decisions would be made in concert with neighboring states, but would not be done in lock-step.

“I don’t think you’ll see us taking in each case identical steps, but I think you’ll see our steps harmonized,” Mr. Murphy said on CNBC.

The governor’s announcement came a day after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered a similarly broad blueprint for lifting New York’s lockdown after May 15, when his order shutting down the state is set to expire. Mr. Cuomo said “low-risk” businesses like construction and manufacturing might begin to reopen in parts of the state that were less affected by the virus.

The head of New Jersey’s Republican Party, Douglas J. Steinhardt, criticized the lack of specifics in Mr. Murphy’s announcement, as well as the absence of any mention of the tough choices that may lie ahead, including the need to furlough state workers and cut the budget.

“He offered nothing new,” Mr. Steinhardt said. “It’s the same stuff he’s been talking about: Appoint a commission and go to the federal government and beg for money.”

He also questioned Mr. Murphy’s decision to allow Representative Tom Malinowski, a Democrat running for re-election in a swing district, to speak at the briefing rather than the director of the Department of Labor, which has been besieged by unemployment claims.

“He turned what was supposed to be an information session into a political pitch,” Mr. Steinhardt said.

Federal guidelines released by the White House 10 days ago advised states that they could move into limited reopening after meeting certain criteria, including two weeks of sustained downward trends in documented cases of Covid-19.

In New Jersey, where only residents with fevers and persistent coughs have been able to get tested, that threshold remains a hurdle. The rate of those who have tested positive for the virus has been hovering at about 43 percent, well above the 10 percent recommended by the World Health Organization before quarantine restrictions should be eased.

Mr. Murphy has said that he expected the state’s testing ability to expand greatly in the coming weeks as Rutgers University’s newly approved saliva test becomes more broadly available. The test does not require a nasal swab, making it easier and less dangerous for health care workers to administer.

On Monday, he said he expected the state to be able to double its testing capacity by the end of next month.

In Georgia, close-contact retail businesses like barbers and tattoo parlors were allowed to open on Friday. Areas where large numbers of people congregate, such as movie theaters, were expected to accept customers on Monday, though mayors of large cities like Atlanta and Augusta have resisted Gov. Brian Kemp’s call for reopening.

Michael Egenton, the chief lobbyist for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, said the group was eager to see the state begin to reopen. “Every day a business is closed hurts their bottom line,” he said.

But Mr. Egenton added, “We want to make sure we don’t see a huge spike happen, or another wave, because we pushed too fast, too hard.”

  • Updated April 11, 2020

    • When will this end?

      This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • How does coronavirus spread?

      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • Is there a vaccine yet?

      No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.

    • What makes this outbreak so different?

      Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • What if somebody in my family gets sick?

      If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Should I stock up on groceries?

      Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • Should I pull my money from the markets?

      That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.


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