Apr 27, 2020
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Coronavirus Briefing April 27
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a coronavirus press conference April 27. Murphy announced a 6-point plan to reopen New Jersey. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Phil Murphy : (15:06)
… which has been in effect since March 21st will remain in effect in its entirety until further notice. For us to move out from underneath this order, we need to see at the least a sustained reduction in the number of new positive COVID-19 test results, new COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and other metrics. And we will also need to see our hospitals step down from functioning under a crisis standard of care.
Governor Phil Murphy : (15:36)
We will be looking for trend lines that show 14 day decreases. We cannot look at just one day or one snapshot in time and say we’ve succeeded or failed. We will need to look across the length of time and to not be distracted by any statistical noise. We need to ensure that we have a robust and fully functioning healthcare system ready to meet the challenges ahead. And it’s not just our hospitals, but also ambulatory facilities, longterm care facilities, provider practices, everywhere healthcare is delivered. And, when we see fewer cases and fewer hospitalizations, we know our system will be prepared for these challenges.
Governor Phil Murphy : (16:19)
Second, we must have a significantly ramped up diagnostic testing plan in place. We need to, at the least, double our current testing capacity. I’m proud to announce that we are actively working toward doubling our diagnostic testing capacity by the end of May and having everything in place, from the kits themselves, to the lab capacity necessary to ensure quick turnaround of results. As we’ve said many times, it isn’t just the number of tests, it’s how fast you get it back.
Governor Phil Murphy : (16:52)
We will have a flexible testing plan that is accessible to all residents who need it, whether it be through walkup and drive through sites, tests at local pharmacies, or even at home testing capabilities. We will prioritize testing for healthcare workers, other essential workers, and vulnerable populations. And we will ensure those who test positive will be linked to a healthcare provider.
Governor Phil Murphy : (17:18)
Our system will also be prepared to engaged in targeting… targeted, pardon me, surveillance testing within communities to further protect against the resurgence of COVID-19. And to build datasets that can help us better understand it’s spread. To achieve these aims, we will need significant support from our federal partners. And we will continue to expand our partnerships with private sector labs and with institutions like Rutgers University, which have created innovative new testing platforms. And we are working closely with the White House, which has agreed to be a partner in helping us meet this important threshold.
Governor Phil Murphy : (17:59)
With this expanding testing in place, we can move forward to our third marker, robust contact tracing. Whenever a new positive COVID-19 test is returned, we must be able to leverage not just that individual’s recollections but also employ new technologies to help identify those with who that individual may have come into contact. We will need to recruit and deploy an army of contact tracers whose sole purpose will be to identify these individuals so we can follow up and ensure they do not contribute to further spread of COVID-19. At the heart of much of this effort will be our local health officials who have done amazing work throughout this emergency. And backstopping all of this will be our Department of Health and it’s experienced and dedicated professionals.
Governor Phil Murphy : (18:54)
According to national guidance, and Judy has reported on this earlier, a proper program will require anywhere from 15 to 81 persons engaged in contact tracing for every 100,000 residents. For New Jersey, this can mean for anywhere between roughly 1,300 all the way up to over 7,000 people to take on this work. But, and here’s a big but, we are also actively engaging a number of technology companies in a search for innovative solutions that can assist in this massive undertaking, and not only make the work of human contact tracers more efficient, but perhaps mean that we need fewer of them.
Governor Phil Murphy : (19:40)
And this now moves us to our fourth step in securing public health. To the greatest extent possible, we will need to provide those who do test positive in the future with a safe and free place to isolate themselves and protect others from COVID-19. We must also be prepared to support these people with wraparound services as needed.
Governor Phil Murphy : (20:03)
… who are these people with wraparound services as needed. We are fully prepared that when we restart our economy, we will see COVID-19 cases even if with that a thousand even if we get everything right, we will see cases. That’s not just the nature of the virus as Ed and Judy and Christina and others have reminded us, but it is the nature of the reality when you combine it with a reopening, even a responsible, well timed, well structured reopening. That much we are sure about. We will see this virus again. Our goal will be to prevent these new cases from multiplying, so stop for a second.
Governor Phil Murphy : (20:42)
Meeting these four benchmarks, a sustained drop in the curve, expanded testing, contact tracing and safe places for people to isolate is critical to giving our residents confidence that we are not only in front of the crisis but then when we do restart our economy, they should not fear going out and being a part of it and restarting our economy and returning people to work will be done methodically, strategically and responsibly and that is our fifth principle.
Governor Phil Murphy : (21:14)
To guide this process tomorrow I will be announcing the formation and the members of the governor’s restart and recovery commission, a group as diverse as it is talented. Economists, academics, business leaders, labor leaders, healthcare experts among them with local, national and global experience in knowledge. It will be their task to balance multiple competing needs to ensure we arrive at equitable decisions that work for every community in our state and I will ask them to help us in our businesses leverage any and all available federal funds and programs to support our recovery.
Governor Phil Murphy : (21:54)
I will give Tom Malinowski a well-deserved and robust introduction, but I don’t know where we’d be without our federal partners down there fighting for us every day. I will ask the commission to give the highest priority for reopening using a clear standard of essential and safe beginning with businesses, industries, and activities which are not only essential to our economy but which provide the lowest risk of disease transmission.
Governor Phil Murphy : (22:21)
I suspect [Mahan 00:22:22] we’re going to want to call that chart back up, this graph up later on when we engage in some of the questions. Then we can move up the matrix bringing more businesses and activities online until we achieve a fully functioning and open economy. As we begin this restart, however again expect to see the continuation of social distancing measures including potentially requirements for face coverings in certain locations. I, by the way, have become a disciple of face coverings, period. I’m not suggesting that’s what the guidance will be, but at least face coverings in certain locations and for work from home directives for employees who do not need to report to a physical location to pick two examples of what I think we will be living with for the foreseeable future. I want, by the way, nothing more than to see every main street up and down the state fill was shoppers and diners once again.
Governor Phil Murphy : (23:21)
I want our construction sites roaring with activities once again. I want to see the shore humming throughout the summer. We will move as quickly as we can, but as safely as we must. We have to be thoughtful in how we unfold our economy. This virus is now among us and our task will be to contain it as best we can, but with our public health protocols firmly in place and with our healthcare system prepared, you should not fear heading back to work or elsewhere and that is our objective.
Governor Phil Murphy : (23:54)
Finally, we cannot think of COVID-19 as a one and done whether we are with a rebound of COVID-19 or a different strain or an altogether new virus outbreaks, we have learned valuable lessons that we would be foolish to ignore ensuring New Jersey’s resiliency for the next outbreak and that no one will be left unprotected because a racial or socioeconomic status must be a part of our response to this outbreak.
Governor Phil Murphy : (24:25)
COVID-19 showed no favorites in ravaging our state and neither will we in preparing for the next wave. We must use this window of opportunity to fill gaps and fortify our healthcare system. I will be looking to see that our hospitals and healthcare systems and anywhere else by the way, where healthcare is delivered, have the bed capacity, personal protective equipment, ventilators, supplies and staff they will need to provide the highest quality of services. At the state level, we will ensure that we too have the supplies to backstop our healthcare facilities and our first responders and essential workers.
Governor Phil Murphy : (25:05)
That means building our own state stockpile of PPE from masks to gloves and everything in between so we can properly outfit not just our frontline health and public safety responders, but also our essential workforce and it also means we must have ventilators on hand that we can push out to hospitals before and I say before they hit crisis mode.
Governor Phil Murphy : (25:29)
Throughout this process we have purchased hundreds of ventilators. Don’t think for a moment that we’re going to be sending any of them back once the current emergency ends. We cannot find ourselves in another situation where we must rely on the federal government or our corporate and philanthropic partners by the way, around the world, I might add to source what we need. We must build our resiliency now.
Governor Phil Murphy : (25:55)
Governmentally, we now have a playbook that we have put together and can refer to or hand off by the way to future administrations complete with the framework for the dozens of executive orders and other processes necessary for facing a global pandemic head on and emerging stronger from it. In the course of two months, our entire world and our entire worldview has changed pandemics on something in a far off place that we just read about in the news anymore.
Governor Phil Murphy : (26:27)
We are living it right here in one of the most advanced States in the most advanced nation in the world and even as we work to put New Jersey back on the road of progress and prosperity, we know that this war is still far from over. We need to continue focusing on our social distancing and taking the steps necessary to push the curves of new cases, new hospitalizations and COVID-19 related deaths down so we can move in turn down this road.
Governor Phil Murphy : (26:59)
I don’t know when we’ll be able to formally and finally start this journey. Hopefully if we all keep at it, it will be soon. But just as we began planning our response to COVID-19 six weeks before our first positive test results even came back from [inaudible 00:27:15] lab, we will be ready to put the car in gear as soon as we see a green light.
Governor Phil Murphy : (27:21)
This is a plan for how we move forward, not if we move forward. So let’s do it together. Let’s start by lowering the curve. We could do this so we all keep our focus over the coming weeks and when we do this, it will be that much sooner that we are able to reach our destination, a New Jersey that is restored to economics because we took the steps to restore and secure our collective health. That said, please allow me to welcome, as I’ve said many times, it takes a village. We need our legislators, we need our whole team. We need each and every one of you doing the extraordinary hard work, including staying home and staying away from each other even as the weather I’m told will someday improve. Thank you for that. You’re the single most important member of our family, of our village because you have kept this curve flat enough to allow our hospital systems to sustain the extraordinary influx of patients. Please stay at it. We need you.
Governor Phil Murphy : (28:23)
I can’t think of a more important member or members of our community than our federal delegation in both the Senate and of the house across the aisle. We have as good as it gets anywhere in America and as great example of that delegation is with us today. Please help me welcome Congressman from the 7th district, Congressman Tom Malinowski.
Tom Malinowski: (28:45)
Thank you governor. Thank you everybody and thank you above all for the partnership that we have been able to build, especially over these last few difficult weeks. Whether the issue is testing personal protective equipment, aid for our businesses, aid for our state, relief for our people, our staffs or you and I personally, we speak every single day and we get the job done and we are absolutely in lock step on what needs to happen going forward.
Tom Malinowski: (29:14)
Look, we are in the second month of what I think is the most extraordinary collective effort that Americans have undertaken against a common enemy in certainly in my lifetime and despite all of the things that we may still be arguing about, the overwhelming majority of Americans and the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyans believe that we are doing the right thing. The overwhelming majority have been willing to make great personal sacrifices over the last few weeks to make sure that their families, their neighbors and their communities are healthy.
Tom Malinowski: (29:53)
When I hear from folks in my district, of course they want to see the economy reopened, but they are not looking for a date, they are looking for a plan, a plan like the one that you just laid out here today, governor. They understand that the reopening is not something that a governor can make happen by waving a magic wand. It can only happen when all of us have the confidence to step out and go out to a restaurant to go back to work, to go back to a mall. It’s not one person making a decision. It has to be based on a plan that’s based on science and on sound public health advice and that’s what we are working on here together today.
Tom Malinowski: (30:39)
Your federal partners, our job is to make sure that as we make these sacrifices as a state and as individual New Jerseyans, there are resources that make it economically possible for us to do this. That’s what we’ve been working on through the CARES One Act, which we’ve had several weeks ago and then several days ago with what we called an interim package, interim because we know we need to do much more.
Tom Malinowski: (31:06)
Now here’s the good news. The good news is that today the paycheck protection program, this vital lifeline are small business owners in New Jersey and around the country is back in business. For all of those small business owners who have been trying to hold on, who were frustrated in the first couple of weeks of this program because the banks were not returning your calls because the loans were not coming through. That program is back in business today.
Tom Malinowski: (31:33)
All of those who had applications in and who were waiting, I hope that over the next few days you will hear good news and if you don’t and you still have frustrations and you live in my district, please call my office. We will call the banks for you. We will try to see what’s going on and I’m sure every member of our federal delegation, congressional delegation will do the same.
Tom Malinowski: (31:57)
Now there’s a lot more we need to do to fix that program. One thing that we did in the bill that we just passed was to set aside a large share of the money for our smaller community-based banks and credit unions banks that make a habit of dealing with the smallest businesses in our community. We’ve all seen the frustrating infuriating stories about larger publicly traded companies that did not need this money that got in the front of the line and unfortunately the banks favored their existing loan customers. That is not what we intended. That is not what the bill said, but that is unfortunately what happened.
Tom Malinowski: (32:36)
We are setting aside more of the money for small businesses. Unfortunately we still have a frustrating refusal on the part of the administration and the Senate to fix the eligibility criteria for that program and we’re going to have to deal with that in the next bill that we pass.
Tom Malinowski: (32:53)
The other issue that we have been working on, and this has also been intensely frustrating over the last couple of weeks, is the need to get relief for our state governments, including our state government in New Jersey and for our local and County government. In the first CARES bill, we approved a fund of $150 billion for our state and local governments and we did this because we understood not only that States would be taking on new expenses to fight this disease, but that they would be seeing a dramatic loss in revenue for obvious reasons because the economy is virtually shut down.
Tom Malinowski: (33:32)
We absolutely intended this money to be helpful to the States that are dealing with this loss of revenue. We felt that we had an explicit commitment from the Trump administration that that would be the case. Unfortunately it has not been the case because the state of New Jersey and all other States have received guidance telling them for some reason that they cannot use this money to compensate for lost revenues due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Tom Malinowski: (34:03)
I was on the phone last night with speaker Pelosi talking about this very issue. She felt as if we had a commitment that was betrayed and we are going to go back as often it takes to the Trump administration to make sure that that first $150 billion is freed up. Right now as I think we’ve heard from the governor, a lot of that money is not usable by the States and other local entities that qualified for it.
Tom Malinowski: (34:32)
The second thing we need to do is to enhance that fund and make sure it’s available for governments, whether they are large States or we’re small towns and you’ve heard how this has gotten partisan in Washington over the last several days. This will be the main issue we are debating in the next CARES bill that we will be introducing in the House of Representatives shortly.
Tom Malinowski: (34:54)
We believe this is necessary. We’ve heard some very divisive rhetoric from leader McConnell in the United States Senate regarding well, his attitude about what he called a “blue state bail out.” It is irresponsible and in my view also unsustainable, irresponsible because after all, it is States like New Jersey that create the economic wealth of the United States, including by paying for most of the things that States like Kentucky and Tennessee and Alabama and Indiana do to take care of their people in education and in health.
Tom Malinowski: (35:32)
We get in New Jersey, 90 cents back from the federal government for every dollar that we pay in taxes. The average resident of Kentucky gets $2.41 back. It is outrageous to suggest that somehow we are asking for a bailout. It’s irresponsible because if we end up and if States and local governments end up having to lay off teachers and firefighters and police officers and other state and local employees, guess what happens? They collect unemployment. Guess who pays? The federal government. For businesses, we have set up a plan deliberately to encourage continued employment. We don’t want people to go on unemployment. Why should it not be the same for state and local government employees? Finally it is unsustainable because we are not just talking about employees of States. We’re talking about State [inaudible 00:36:26] government down to the township level in the United States of America.
Tom Malinowski: (36:32)
I represent a district, the 7th district in New Jersey that has not one single town with more than 50,000 people in it. Every single one of my towns is hurting right now. Every single one is seeing tax revenue dry up. Every single one is debating how long they can continue to pay those schoolteachers, those cops and those firefighters. This is about the survival of small town America and at the end of the day, I’m not sure if Mitch McConnell wants to be the person who is responsible for telling small town America to go to hell.
Tom Malinowski: (37:11)
That’s what he’s doing right now. Well in my district today we are going to be releasing a letter that’s going to be signed at right now we have 45 or 50 mayors and freeholders about half of them are Republicans to our congressional leadership saying, “Please approve this relief money.” It is not a bailout. It is to enable state and local government in the United States of America to exist through this crisis and I think that is a bipartisan call that you are going to see coming from state governments, County governments, local governments from across this country. I Know a number of my colleagues in the house are generating similar letters. It’s gotten partisan in Washington. It is completely non-partisan in state capitals and in small town America and we are going to make that argument and I believe we are going to win that argument in the next bill that passes certainly the house of representatives but I believe the next bill that will go to the president for his signature.
Tom Malinowski: (38:15)
We owe this to everybody who is making a sacrifice right now to everybody who has been lost to everybody who’s putting their own self interest to one side until our community and our state and our country is healthy again. Thank you very much.
Governor Phil Murphy : (38:31)
Tom, thank you for your leadership to take the sense and dollars and turn it into the total numbers consistent with what you’ve just said. We send over $70 billion more to Washington, the federal government than we receive. Kentucky gets back almost $150 billion more than they put in. Talk about reading from your own book, right?
Tom Malinowski: (38:59)
Yeah, every state gave as much as New Jersey. There would be a massive surplus in the federal budget, not a deficit.
Governor Phil Murphy : (39:11)
I just want to reiterate. Thank you, Tom, for everything you’re doing and you made a point about the mayors and freeholders. This is not a partisan point right now. This is overwhelmingly doing what’s right for our state, for our people, for our country, and I said what I said last week. I would have said it if Mitch McConnell were Democrat. Just completely irresponsible. Just to use this as a… We had a very good call this morning I thought with the congressional delegation, both senators as well as the full delegation in the house, and I repeat now what I’ve said several times in this room, but also on the call, Senator Bob Menendez in the Senate has got a $500 billion bill co-sponsored by Senator Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, which does exactly what Thomas referring to and there’s a chance, it sounds like that the house may have a bill that is similar…
Governor Phil Murphy : (40:03)
There’s a chance. It sounds like that the House may have a bill that is similar, if not even larger, and that’s what the doctor ordered right now, right?
Tom Malinowski: (40:06)
Yes, that’s actually my bill.
Governor Phil Murphy : (40:09)
That’s your bill.
Tom Malinowski: (40:10)
And also bipartisan, so again, the key is we have about 140 cosponsors, a number of Republicans in that list. I think every member’s hearing this from their hometowns, from their state governments. This is not partisan back home. It has been made partisan for reasons that are mysterious to me by a few people in Washington, DC. That is what we will have to overcome over the coming days.
Governor Phil Murphy : (40:35)
Amen. Thank you again for that and for everything, Tom. It is a real treat to have my partner in government back with us today. She has been extraordinary as always, particularly in this crisis, not just as Lieutenant Governor, but also in running the Department of Community Affairs, which, speaking of small towns, touches every single one of them in every corner of this state, and would love to ask her to say a few words. Please help me welcome the Lieutenant Governor of the great state of New Jersey, the one, the only, the singular Sheila Oliver.
Sheila Oliver: (41:09)
Thank you very much, Governor. I think that you and Congressman Malinowski hit the nail on the head. We have to prioritize health, public health and I think, Governor, the road back is reflective of the sentiment of the people of New Jersey. In a very short period of time, our people in New Jersey have had to learn with intensity about a disease no one ever knew existed, and in a short period of time as we have seen what has happened in our part of the northeast corridor, New Jersey being number two behind the state of New York in the number of people who have become infected, and people who have been hospitalized, and the number of people that we have lost. I think that New Jersians understand we cannot just tomorrow flip a switch and go back to life as normal. Life is not going to be normal, pre COVID-19.
Sheila Oliver: (42:26)
And I think that if you travel around the state, if you go into the various counties, if you visit some of the cities, you will see that people already are beginning to reorient themselves and focus on health. For those of you that have elder grandmothers or you remember some of your elder uncles and aunts, they always told you when you were young, if you don’t have health, you don’t have anything. I think the road back is very measured. I think it is tempering, and it is combining the needs of getting our economy back on track, but at the same time, prioritizing health, wellness, and sustaining life in this state. It’s very interesting. At the Department of Community Affairs, we deal with all 565 municipalities. We have been on the phones constantly in the past month and a half with mayors, with city council people, with freeholders, with people who chair various boards and authorities across the state.
Sheila Oliver: (43:45)
And I think that what has been shown through the leadership of the governor, it has created a real unity between and amongst people from one state of the other, from one end of the state to the other and Congressman Malinowski pointed out the divisiveness that you see on Capitol Hill in Washington. We are not seeing that in the state of New Jersey. I think that this shared experience, COVID knows no neighborhood. It knows no zip code. It knows no socioeconomic status, and I think it has snapped us back into reality in this state about the role of government, what government can do in the lives of people. And Governor, I just want to tell you that our mayors and our local elected officials are pleased with the leadership you have brought to this experience that we are having and could not be more pleased that you are taking the deliberate steps that you are taking. So, I want to thank you for that.
Governor Phil Murphy : (45:02)
Thank you, Sheila, and thank you for everything you’re doing. And you look at what we’ve got in terms of rental relief and folks dealing with mortgages and evictions and whatnot, so much of that runs through the Department of Community Affairs. I can’t thank you enough. You’ve been working morning, noon, and night, and you’ve been an extraordinary partner in peace time and now in war. So, bless you and thank you. You make a fair point. I didn’t agree with everything he stood for by a long shot, but I always admired Ronald [inaudible 00:45:34] as a guy who could seize the moment, but I got to call him out on this. When he said government is not the answer, government is the problem. That is not the case today. With all due respect to the president, we need government now more than ever before.
Governor Phil Murphy : (45:49)
And we’re reminded in this awful tragedy of the role that’s indispensable that government can play. And our job is to deliver as much of that as consistently and as comprehensively as possible. And back to Tom’s point, we can’t do that without the back and fill of a lot of federal money to allow us to continue to deliver for our residents. Sheila, thank you for everything. I’m not used to having Judy Persichilli is so far from me. After two months, I feel like we’re always cheek to jowl, as they say, but please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction, the commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Judy Persichilli: (46:28)
Thank you, Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Congressman Malonowski. As the governor shared, our hospitals reported 6,407 hospitalizations, of which 1,801 individuals are in critical care, and 72% of those individuals are on ventilators. We’re actually seeing slight decline in our hospitalizations in the northern part of the state, and a flattening in the central part of the state, and an uptick in the southern part of the state. Last evening, there were five hospitals that were on divert for portions of the evening and night. Three of them were from central New Jersey, two of them from North Jersey, none from the South. Today, we’re reporting 2,146 new cases from 10:00 PM last evening. I just want to remind you, that means it’s not comparable to what we’ve been reporting in the past as try to collect this data in the morning, but the hospital data is from 10:00 PM the night before. So, combining that seems to make a little bit more sense at this point.
Judy Persichilli: (47:45)
Along with the governor, we with the Department of Health are sad to report 106 new deaths for a total of 6,044 fatalities in our state. The breakdown of deaths by race and ethnicity is as follows, white, 53.2%, black 20.3%, Hispanic 16.3%, Asian 5.1%, and other 5%. we have also looked at hospital discharge destination. That’s been a question at some of our prior conferences. A sample of 773 cases reveals that 24.7% of those cases were discharged to a skilled nursing facility, 3% to a rehab facility, 1.8% to hospice. 10.8% are among individuals who have expired, 0.9% left against medical advice, 2.98% were discharged to another facility type, and 50.32% were discharged home.
Judy Persichilli: (49:09)
There are 476 longterm care facilities in the state now reporting cases of COVID-19, for a total of over 16,277 cases in our longterm facilities. The state’s veterans’ homes are now reporting 263 residents positive, and sadly, 97 residents have expired, from their total census of 714. Our state psychiatric hospitals are reporting 152 patients have tested positive, and they have reported nine deaths, and that has stayed steady for the last number of days. Our field medical stations have treated a total of 346 individuals and have discharged 270 of them. According to lab data from this morning of the lab sending us their COOVID-19 results, 204,651 individuals have been tested with 88,064 testing positive, for a positivity rate of 43%. That ends my report. Stay connected, stay safe, and stay healthy. Thank you
Governor Phil Murphy : (50:30)
Judy, thank you. The positivity rate just for folks watching at home who may be watching, maybe just today or others who have been watching every day, that is slowly begun to drift down over the past week. Either you or Ed, any color on that particular trend, which I assume was a positive one? Ed, do you have a mic on you or not? You do? There you go.
Yes, thank you. Yes, it’s a definitely positive trend. As you’ve mentioned, we’re seeing these positivity rates gradually decline, and what you’ve been talking about here is our cumulative positivity rates, which means you’re having hundreds of thousands of tests. It takes a long time to move that gradually down. We also look at the positivity rates on any given day, meaning daily over time. That moves faster. As well as we do some additional looking at the different areas in New Jersey to see what’s happening. So, for example, at its peak in Bergen County, about 60% of all their tests were coming up positive. At this point, they’re down to about 30% or so of all their tests becoming positive. So, that’s a huge difference as far as that goes. As the commissioner mentioned, we are seeing some increases in the south, but overall, the state is definitely trending the right way when it comes to those positivity numbers.
Governor Phil Murphy : (51:49)
Sorry to make you get on [inaudible 00:51:51] there. So, that’s an important point for folks who may have missed that. It’s not just that the number cumulatively is trending down, but the snapshots of recent moments is meaningfully down from peaks, and that’s on the list of trends that we’re going to be watching very carefully to get back to where that road to recovery goes.
Governor Phil Murphy : (52:14)
Counties, Judy, staying the same in terms of the positive test results. These six counties still overwhelmingly have the highest concentration. There’s positive test results, and sadly, fatalities in all 21 counties. But in order, Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Union, Passaic, and Middlesex continue to have the big bulk of them. The racial data is consistent and troubling, as it has been since we’ve been reporting it. And I, for one, was encouraged that 50 plus percent of people are walking out of the hospital and going home, which is another data point that I think we could take some comfort in. The folks who are beating this, at least 50% of the cases are beating it so much so that they can go home. In some cases, I’m sure, with a visiting physical therapist or a visiting nurse, but the fact of the matter is they’re going home. So, thank you to each of you for that.
Governor Phil Murphy : (53:08)
Pat, I said that I wouldn’t necessarily call on you, just because our program is so thick and we got a lot of reporters here. And by the way folks, we’re going to start over here, but we’re going to ask you to limit your questions to one or two at most, just because we got a big crowd and we have to go to the White House virtually. Talk if you could, Pat, off subject, but importantly, one of your guys we shot last night and just give us a quick sense of how he’s doing.
He’s doing well. Governor, I had the ability to talk to him this morning. He’ll probably be in there for a week or so. Very lucky the investigation is ongoing and the Attorney General and I plan to a stream live tomorrow morning from The Rock the details of what we’ve found so far. So, everybody who’s reached out to both him and his family, greatly appreciated and he’s doing well.
Governor Phil Murphy : (53:57)
Pat let us know late, or I guess, early Saturday morning that this had transpired. I had the honor on Sunday morning, so yesterday, to speak, not just with Pat, but with his mom. Not your mom, but the trooper’s mom. And I don’t want to get him engaged inadvertently. Was it his girlfriend, or-
It was his girlfriend.
Governor Phil Murphy : (54:15)
His girlfriend, so I don’t want to jump the gun there, but in any event, as you can imagine, it was a pretty traumatic and it sounds like he’s a lucky guy and a great guy. I’m going to speak to him later on this afternoon, and I’m really looking forward to it. So, thanks to everybody who was up here with me. We’re going to start over here, and again, I’d ask you as a favor today to keep it fairly short. Nikita.
I might not be able to grant you that favor. So, we reported this weekend that some mail in ballots delivered to apartment buildings are simply being left in the lobbies and not actually delivered to mailboxes or voters’ doors. Do you have any plans to address these issues with the Postal Service? Do you have any concerns that ballots for tenants living… The majority of whom live in apartment buildings, as opposed to single family homes, are being treated differently in this regard? Do you have any concerns about the [inaudible 00:55:12] elections in May being compromised by this sort of activity? And do you have any concerns about voter fraud given that large numbers of ballots are being left in public places?
Governor Phil Murphy : (55:22)
One more please.
Sure. And then I have one more for me, and then I also have one [crosstalk 00:55:26].
Governor Phil Murphy : (55:26)
One more, please.
Any timeline on July 7, and all [inaudible 00:15:30]? And is that still on the table?
Governor Phil Murphy : (55:34)
Given the gravity of what we’re talking about, I don’t have crisp answers for you. I will get my… And let’s get the team to follow up with you on the mail in ballots being left in lobbies. I actually didn’t see that story. That’s obviously not what we want. While we’re fighting this war, democracy and other things have to go on. So, we take that very seriously. But I’ll have to come back to you. There’s no update on July 7th, and we’ll give you an update, I promise you, as soon as we got it. Thank you, though. Please.
Speaker 1: (56:06)
Hi, I was curious. The longterm care facility numbers, I know there had been a reconciliation going on with those. Do those that we see on the dashboard now include only residents, or still residents and staff? And then, Governor, all of the benchmarks and kind of goals and ideas that you mentioned today, can you give us any insight into your priorities on what industries or business might come back online first, and any best guests on timeframe for this? And just one more. I know there’s a priority on testing vulnerable populations. What’s the plan for prisons? As far as I know, there’s no testing being done in the facilities now, so I wonder if we’ll see any of that before people are released back to their homes. Can you just-
Governor Phil Murphy : (56:52)
Okay. Judy, I’ll start and maybe ask you to come in behind that. I think, could you pull up, [inaudible 00:16:59], the low risk chart? Yeah, so I think you should probably assume that we will… This is not up here just for our health, but this is something that will guide us. I think it’s a mistake that we would, and I want to caution folks. For you accountants out there, don’t expect a LIFO strategy here. In other words, last in first out. In other words, a reversal of what we did. That’s not necessarily going to be… It might be, but it won’t necessarily be consistent with what we would do. But it’s going to be the workplaces and other venues where we have a high degree of confidence that social distancing and other related norms can be effectively executed.
Governor Phil Murphy : (57:50)
And by the way, I love music. I love going to concerts. Concerts are not going to be any time soon, as an example, where there’s a high amount of density, meaning the risk is high. You’re in that lower right hand corner. You’re in the lower right hand corner, where it’s high risk. And I love music, so don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s not essential. The stuff we want to have is the essential stuff coming back online, a food chain, other essential elements where we can properly and folks can properly adjudicate, and also defend in an exhibit that they’re actually social distancing, mask policies. Again, I’ve become a big mask person. I hope.. I’ve gotten pinged even just sitting here. Respectfully, I might add, I love the level of respect, but I hope sooner than later, assuming folks could do it right, we can get to things like parks, which some would say is not essential. I would say for mental health and other reasons. There’s another set of arguments that we’re hearing all the time, that they are essential and we respect that, but it’s got to be done the right way. With that, I believe we are testing in prisons by the way. I don’t think the premise of that last question is accurate. Is that right?
Speaker 2: (59:18)
We’re implementing a plan to test everyone who’s being furloughed pursuant to your executive order and with the commissioner working on a broader plan for the prison population and staff.
Governor Phil Murphy : (59:27)
I think that’s going to be on the list. So, I’m confusing the folks who may be considered for furlough with the overall population. I mentioned vulnerable communities, and that certainly is going to be on the list of priorities. Judy, anything on that, as well as on reconciling longterm care numbers?
Judy Persichilli: (59:47)
The longterm care numbers are still being reconciled. We hope to finish that by the end of the week. So, some of it is clean. Some of it still has employees and residents. And vulnerable populations, we do determine that corrections-
Judy Persichilli: (01:00:02)
… populations, we do determine corrections. It’s on that list and we have a testing strategy task force and we’re looking at refining the definition of vulnerable populations and also priority populations.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:00:17)
Thank you. You guys? Either you gentlemen? No? Ma’am. Hold on one sec.
Speaker 4: (01:00:25)
Hi, on the reopening plan, as you make decisions about what’s going to reopen, will that apply to the state across the board or will it be a decision made county by county or region by region? Since as several people mentioned there are different situations in north, central and south for various measures and also yesterday there was an outage in the unemployment site, online application. From what I understand it is back up, but can you address what the problem was and if anything’s being done to prevent that outage from happening again?
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:01:00)
I realized you asked me about when, I don’t know when, I think it’s measured in weeks. But that assumes that everybody is doing their job. So everybody, folks, the most, if you want to get back to some semblance of normal, the most important thing you could do right now is to keep doing what you’re doing, stay at home, stay away from each other. That is job number one in the extent to that continues to succeed. It allows us to start going down that road. To early tell on regional versus statewide. I’ve used this example before, but it must be referred to again because it’s a good example. Some counties have said, “Hey, wait a minute, we’re less dense. We have fewer people, fewer visitors normally to our parks.” Here’s the problem and this is unintended consequences here are very much in our mind that that may be true, but the minute you open up two or three parks, either a county park or a state park in those counties, you’ve got the rest of the counties, if not the rest of the region.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:02:13)
Showing up on a good weather weekend day in particular in those parks. That scared the heck out of us. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, I think it was on April 4th and 5th if my memory serves me. That it was the first warm weather weekend and we surveyed with Pat and his folks. The park police surveyed the parks and they had congregations and a lot of out-of-state plates. So now having said that, I mentioned this within the past couple of days we have had successful regional steps taken, the most important, which is Judy’s regionalizing, the healthcare realities in the north, central, and south. That’s been hugely effective as we built out capacity, as we realized we needed to move assets around, whether they be ventilators or beds or even hospitals on divert and they had to move patients. That worked really well. So I would never say never, but my bias will be leaning toward making statewide decisions unless we see a real unique reason to do otherwise. Or unless we see a really bifurcated reality in terms of the virus and its impact on the state.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:03:27)
I answered your questions. I think. Unemployment had crashed. I don’t know why it crashed but it did crash and it was back up. I was told at 6:00 PM last night and so they’re still chopping through and I know folks out there are frustrated. I don’t blame you. We had this conversation on the call with Tom and his colleagues this morning. This will not make anyone feel any better, but we are leagues ahead of virtually every other state, but there’s still a backlog. I know folks are still frustrated. You won’t lose one penny, I promise you, including of your federal plus up. Thank you for that. We’ll come down to Matt in the front her, Matt.
So thank you governor. I understand your apprehension about wanting to give a date, but it appears in some of the stuff that you laid out. You talked about testing, doubling maybe by the end of May, it looks like some of those other measures that you implemented could take a couple of weeks or additional months. I’m just curious how you square that then maybe with things like opening up schools, possibly in the middle of May and maybe just some sort of clarity if there’s any light at the end of the tunnel for New Jerseyans? On unemployment Gov. curious when will unemployment system be able to handle gig workers and self employers and also if you can give an update on the number of backlog at the department of labor for unemployment claims. Just lastly, why can’t more businesses, another question from readers, why can’t more businesses that consider non-essential open for curbside and delivery and things like that? Is that something that would you consider expanding the sort of businesses that can be opened or closed at this time?
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:05:04)
Do you have an example?
I don’t off the top of my head, but I mean just basically I guess if it’s a store that might sell equipment for women or something like that.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:05:13)
Some of this I don’t have and we’ll get you the what the backlog looks like, but I was told the backlog this morning I think is back to what they have normally been dealing with pre-crisis. Did you hear the same thing Matt? Yeah, but we’ll get you more information on the backlog. Mahan help me out here. Backlog where it stands today on unemployment as well as specifics on gig workers and self employed and those were the independent contractors. You’re rightfully raised was a particular challenge. So we’ll come back to you. Yeah, I think this is weeks, I’m not sure it’s months, Matt. I don’t want to be accused of not giving light at the end of the tunnel. I think we’ve been very clear on both sides and I think we have to continue to be on both sides. You have to continue to stay home until we say otherwise.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:06:01)
I know it’s frustrating. I know as the weather someday we’ll get better is going to really get to folks. I get that completely. But it’s working and this is the number one weapon we have in this fight, but it is working. So you could say both of those things. You could see the hospitalization numbers, they are coming down. We have to continue to see them coming down. So I’d love to say that it’s tomorrow, but I don’t want folk… It isn’t. But I also don’t want folks to lose their hope because we’re winning this and we will get through this. Sadly, not without casualty, but we will get through this. But I think it’s a number of weeks and I mean that. I’ve sort of led the witness, I mentioned that we believe we’ll be able to at least double our testing by the end of May.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:06:48)
So that’s basically five weeks from now to put that on it. So I would not say it’s a number of months, but I also would remind folks that these viruses come back even if we do it exactly right. Judy and Ed will tell us they come back, no matter how good we might be, nothing new on schools will promise an answer by May 15th and we will abide by that. That’s where I’ll be in all that. Thank you for that. We’ll come back to you on the unemployment insurance as well as the gig in the self-employed real quick.
Speaker 5: (01:07:23)
… on testing, because the other day we heard that the Rutgers speed testing, we were talking about 10,000 maybe in a week or two. How did this change to double the testing capacity now to the end of May? It seemed like that was-
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:07:36)
Yeah, because there’s different parts of the food chain, there’s the actual testing materials you need depending on which test you’re doing. If it’s a viral test, you still need the health care worker and the PPE. How quick is the turnaround? The reagents? So the answer is, I’m also not going to over promise and under deliver. How’s that? Maybe that helps square. Thank you sir.
Speaker 6: (01:08:03)
Two for you governor. People want to know why there is no response from your phone number. They’re saying it’s either busy or the voicemail is full. Also, you stated that testing will be doubled by the end of May, but current tests are hitting a rough ceiling of 3,000 to 4,000 over the last two weeks. Are you concerned that current testing presents an incomplete picture of the outbreak in New Jersey? How do you know that anything other than extensive asymptomatic testing, we’ll give you the data that you need.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:08:34)
I have no idea the answer to your question about my phone is ringing busy. This phone, by the way is literally as I sit here exploding. So I don’t know. I can’t give you a good answer on that. But I feel certain days every nine million folks in New Jersey have my number. So I’ve got a little bit of opposite feel and I welcome that by the way. I’ll let Ed and Judy answer the latter, but I don’t think three or 4,000 is the number that we’re looking at. I think Ed you had said we were seven and 9,000 and that was two weeks ago and we’re up from there. There may be a question of, how long it’s taking to process them. Remember we’ve said two things about testing. We need a lot more of it and we need a rapid response.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:09:20)
Because otherwise what good is it if we think we’ve eliminated community spread, I come in from out of state, I test positive, but I don’t know that for a week. What good is it? At that point the horses are out of the barn. But the question Ed in particular, how do you address the question of how comfortable can we… How confident we can we be in the absence of complete asymptomatic testing of asymptomatic folks around the state?
Yes. Again, in a perfect world, we’d essentially test everybody to know exactly what was happening and we all know that that isn’t possible. Yes, our tests are increasing, not decreasing. We talked a couple of weeks ago at about seven to 9,000 tests and now I’d say we’re probably about 2000 tests or so more over that everyday on average. So we’re probably in the nine to 11,000 but don’t quote me on an exact number. It does vary from day to day. Part of what happens when you’re talking about trying to get a sense of what’s happening in a broader population in an asymptomatic population or to know what’s happened in the past. Then you’re talking not only about the test to detect a virus, which is the nasal swab or the spit test or so forth.
Then you begin talking about doing the blood tests, look for the antibodies to get a sense about what’s happened in the population in a broader sense. We are moving forward together with Rutgers to do some of that testing to get a sense about what’s been happening in a broader swaths of New Jersey as well. So while our picture will never be completely complete, we’ll never have as much information as we absolutely want. We’re definitely working more and more towards that picture every day.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:11:02)
I’m going to say as a nonmedical professional and then do you have a question in the back, sir? We’ll go to the back there. As a nonmedical professional, I would say I’m going to predict the following, nevermind the end of May in which we’ve put a marker out in terms of when we believe we will at least be able to double based on all the conversations that I’m a part of and our teams are part of. I think we will be in a dramatically different place as a state and perhaps as a country on testing three months from now. I’m just going to pick that number. There’s just so much happening right now and a lot of it I’m happy to say is happening right here in New Jersey. You mentioned Rutgers, that’s the best example, but it’s not the only example. The fact that we’re a big healthcare bio pharmaceutical state with great institutions of higher education. Boy is that coming home to roost for us right now and that’s a good thing, sir.
Phil Andrews: (01:11:53)
Good afternoon, governor. Phil Andrews, New Jersey News Network. Really quick as of today, how would you envision Memorial Day and your thoughts and out-of-state residents taking advantage of Jersey shore rentals and going back and forth in this climate?
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:12:11)
Yeah, I’m not sure I’ve got a crisp answer for you on Memorial Day. I know what it normally is and I love it and I hope it can be some form of that. It starts in… Memorial Day is what, four weeks pardon me from today. I can’t give you a full answer. I hope as I’ve said many times that we have some semblance of norm on the shore this summer. But it will be some semblance. I just don’t envision being in tight spaces without real restrictions on capacity and social distancing and frankly even on the beach. I just don’t see it. Whether or not we’re at a better place four weeks from today, I sure as heck hope we are. I think there’s a shot. I think we’ve got a shot. Again, if everybody keeps doing what they’re doing, if we let our guard down, all bets are off. That heat map, which we didn’t show you today just because we had a lot of slides… Mahan let’s get that back up tomorrow. That map has shown largely really good progress, but it’s slipped the past couple of days.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:13:24)
There was a Washington Post heat map over the weekend that showed that we had slipped a hair. We cannot let that happen in the extent to which folks keep doing what they’re doing to put it in the positive, we increase our chances meaningfully of getting that semblance of norm on the shore sooner than later. I’ll be the happiest guy in Jersey if not America, if that semblance of norm comes in by Memorial Day. I worry about out-of-state stuff and I want us to be open for business. The good news is folks who travel to New Jersey on the shore and rent or even own a second home are overwhelmingly either New Jerseyans or from the region. There were some folks who come from outside the region for sure in a normal time I’d want more of them but for this time, for this purposes at least they tend to be in the region.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:14:23)
My word at this moment, sitting here on April, whatever it is, is however we want folks to be in their primary residence. The shore community, particularly in the off season does not have the healthcare infrastructure to support the challenges that this virus has put upon us. So I would hope that folks continue to adhere to that. Whether or not four weeks from now, we’re in a some kind of a more normal reality where folks can continue to do. Again, particularly if they may be coming from the region that is consistent with the seven state council that we’ve established. Where while we’re not doing things exactly alike, we’re doing things broadly in a similar fashion that would give some comfort, but for the time being at least we need folks to stay in their primary homes. Thank you. I promise you we’ll update as we have something, sir. I didn’t recognize you there. I think you’ve got a different-
Speaker 7: (01:15:23)
Hairdo inspired by you.
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:15:25)
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. I hope you’re inspired by someone else’s cut other than mine, but thank you.
Speaker 7: (01:15:33)
Governor, any reaction to Mayor Fulop, opening up some of Jersey city’s parks? Can you give us an update on New Jersey’s furloughing of prisoners? How many are planned to be released? When do we have a timeline for their release and why furlough and not commute sentences as other states have done in the region? Can you clarify what’s included in the total number of cases, Judy? That’s done by county, but do we know if that’s more in healthcare or in the general public?
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:16:07)
Total number of positive cases?
Speaker 7: (01:16:08)
Governor Phil Murphy : (01:16:08)
So the 111,180. Okay. Judy, you come back to that. Matt’s going to come on center stage here and join me, but we had an exchange earlier today…