The governor also extends property tax deadlines from May 1 to June 1, and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli says long-term care testing models in South Jersey are underway.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 28, 2020
Another 2,887 New Jersey residents have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the statewide total to 113,856, Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday.
Sadly, Murphy also announced 402 new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the statewide total to 6,442 lives lost during the pandemic.
Throughout New Jersey, 6,476 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 or awaiting confirmation of their status.
Of those, 1,809 are in either critical or intensive care, and 1,262 are on ventilators.
In the past 24 hours, New Jersey hospitals have admitted 488 new COVID-19 patients and discharged 419 others either to a lower-acuity care setting or to their homes.
Finally, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli noted that some 4,000 residents and employees in South Jersey long-term care sites have been tested for COVID-19 as part of a trial to determine the spread of the virus in close-quartered populations. Many of them are asymptomatic.
Results are expected by the end of the week, and the commissioner hopes those will help inform broader analysis of the progress of the disease in close-quartered populations.
Although recent trends seem to show intensive care cases flattening, New Jersey is still “weeks away from reopening,” Murphy said.
Restart and Recovery Commission
On Tuesday, the governor introduced the 15 members of his Restart and Recovery Commission for the state, which includes nationally known figures like former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, former U.S. Environmental Protection Association Director Lisa Jackson, and former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.
They’re joined by prominent New Jerseyans like molecular biologist and Princeton University President Emerita Shirley Tilghman, incoming Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, and Amtrak Chair Tony Coscia.
The panel also includes healthcare advisers such as Merck Chair and CEO Kenneth Frazier, financial advisers like Prudential Chair and CEO Charles Lowrey, and faith leaders like former New Jersey Secretary of State Regena Thomas.
The commission will work to “build our economy from the middle out and the bottom up,” with an emphasis on helping the state economy to be “stronger and fairer,” to historically overlooked populations in the state, Murphy said.
“These are people who’ve spent their careers rising to the challenge and providing leadership on the global stage,” he said. “Now they will be advocates and assets for New Jersey.”
Among its priorities, the commission will study public health, workforce development, transportation, New Jersey’s long-term investments and access to federal aid, and issues of economic equity within the state.
Municipal property tax deadline extended, protesters, long-term care testing
In terms of immediate relief, Murphy signed an executive order extending statutory 10-day municipal property tax leniency to 30 days.
For those whose property tax payments are not bundled with their mortgage bills, the May 1 deadline will be pushed to June 1, and those who need the extension will not incur payments or interest penalties.
The impact of the pandemic on Americans’ mental health and well-being “is also concerning,” to New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. On Tuesday, she pointed to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll that showed people are having trouble sleeping and eating, upping their alcohol use, and suffering more from chronic conditions.
Front-line workers may be particularly vulnerable to these struggles, Persichilli said, urging them to connect with support at 866-202-4357 or by texting “NJ” to 741741 to reach crisis counseling.
“This is a difficult time, but you are not alone,” she said. “Please reach out for help. Take time to reach out to your loved ones. Check in with one another. We will get through this together.”
Murphy also acknowledged the strain that residents feel to both comply with social distancing and stay-at-home orders as the seasons turn.
Without a definitive date for reopening the state, he worried that people would relax their behaviors amid “weeks and weeks and weeks of built-up frustration and cabin fever.
“It is true that if you look at that heat map and you look at the hospitalizations, we have some good trends right now,” the governor said.
“We have not arrived in any end zone,” he said. “I cannot attach a date or any promise to any of it.”
Asked specifically to weigh in on shutdown protesters in the state capital, Murphy said he at once supports their right to voice their opinions, but wishes they would do so without congregating.
“This is America; we all have First Amendment rights,” the governor said. “I wish they would do it at home. I hope they’re not making each other sick.
“This notion of fascism is ridiculous,” Murphy said. “We’re trying to save lives. I appreciate all the American flags I see out there… This isn’t a question of patriotism; this is a question of doing what’s right.”
“We are absolutely, desperately trying to save every life we can,” the governor said. “We love our country. We love our state. This is the greatest nation on Earth. We’re trying to keep as many of us in New Jersey alive as possible. That’s our only objective.”
New Jersey State Police Col. Pat Callahan said of the gatherings that “our posture is discretion,” and asked that those protesting exercise social distancing when doing so.
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