May 1, 2020
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Coronavirus Briefing May 1
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy held a coronavirus press conference today, May 1. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Phil Murphy: (00:14)
Good afternoon everyone. I’m honored to be joined by the woman on my right who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persa Kelly, to her right, the state’s epidemiologist, another person who’s known to everyone, Dr Christina Tan, to my left, the superintendent, the state police Colonel Pat Callahan, director of the department of Homeland security preparedness, Jared Maples is in the house. Good afternoon everybody.
Governor Phil Murphy: (00:38)
I want to start if I can, by giving a fuller picture of the efforts at the Department of Labor to get unemployment benefits into the hands of every worker who deserves them. Over the past two weeks, the department has added 193,000 to the rolls of unemployed workers receiving benefits, for a total of 622,000 people now receiving unemployment benefits from our state, another half a billion dollars in payments went out the door last week for a total of $1.4 billion and rising.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:14)
The unresolved claims are mostly, and I say mostly, not entirely, but mostly from the pool of approximately 200,000 individuals who are self employed, independent contractors or gig workers who filed for benefits under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program or PUA. Those claims are starting to be processed literally today and will be over the weekend, bringing hundreds of millions of additional dollars to New Jerseyans wallets, and significantly reducing the number of claimants who had not yet received benefits.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:51)
We will update you when we can on the department’s progress, but the department can only release new unemployment numbers on Thursdays and that is according to the U.S. Department of Labor rules. It is also important to remember that even in normal times it takes three weeks approximately to process an unemployment claim, after all the required information is received. When claims are coming in in the tens or hundreds of thousands a week, the denominator of those who have not received benefits yet is always going to be a big number.
Governor Phil Murphy: (02:26)
It takes longer when there is missing income information or when there’s a separate claim filed in another state. But I notice I’ve said before a couple of things. Number one, we appreciate your patience and we appreciate even your frustration as you’ve been waiting to get through, but also as importantly that every New Jerseyan eligible for unemployment benefits will receive every dollar, every penny they qualify for.
Governor Phil Murphy: (02:54)
Let’s switch gears and go to today’s numbers, and let this never be just about numbers. Today we’re announcing another 2,651 positive test results for a statewide total of 121,190. If you look at the graph, these numbers keep moving over time and overall in the right direction. As I mentioned on Monday, we can’t get distracted by one day spikes or drops. We have to look at the trend lines. Likewise, the map of New Jersey we have turned to daily continues to get lighter as the rate of doubling of new cases continues to slow. And again, the counties that are the least amount of days to double continue to be in the South.
Governor Phil Murphy: (03:42)
Two things about those counties, and Judy would want me to say this, number one, they have meaningful cases, but much fewer cases there than they do in those Northern counties. And secondly, the virus as we have always signaled is migrating, including down to the Southern counties, and more on that in a second. And it bears repeating, I can’t say this strongly enough, this weekend will be a huge test for all of us as to whether or not we stay on this trajectory, as we reopen our parks, and as some of you head back to the golf course, social distancing is going to be the watch word. We will be closely monitoring actions across the entire weekend.
Governor Phil Murphy: (04:22)
I know the overwhelming majority of you will head out, will do the right things, and keep our parks therefore open going forward. But if we see what we saw, and this was extremely troubling over the first weekend in April when we had good weather, and we close the parks after that, we saw a lot of the so-called knucklehead behavior with people ignoring social distancing. And if we see that again, we will not hesitate, and I don’t say this with any joy, to reclose the parks. I sincerely do not want to do that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (04:54)
I recognize we all want to be out in the fresh air and sunshine, that includes me by the way, but we are not out of the woods yet. We all still have to use common sense. So please no gatherings, stay at least six feet apart. We’re not making you, but I’m asking you to wear a face covering, and on the golf side, similar, but there’s a lot of other specifics we need you to adhere to like one person per cart, twosomes et cetera. So you can look that up in our executive order. We are trusting in you to keep up with your social distancing just as you have been trusting in us in this battle against COVID-19. Let’s show everybody how New Jersey responds by the wind. So far overwhelmingly so good. So please, let’s have a big weekend together.
Governor Phil Murphy: (05:42)
In our healthcare system, as of last night’s reporting, there were 5,972 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 this number happily continues to decrease, but let’s remember folks, it is still just under six people in a hospital bed right now with COVID- 19. This graph shows by region how many patients our hospitals are treating. North Jersey and Central Jersey as you can see, continue to see a downward trend, and South Jersey is up a bit, but has seen a relative leveling over the past five days.
Governor Phil Murphy: (06:19)
Let’s stay on this for a second. This is what we saw a couple of days ago when we showed you, and note not just the shape of the curves but also the amount of cases. So you see in the North you’ve got 3000 and something. It looks like a hospitalizations as of the moment you’ve got high, 1700 or so in the central region. You’ve got, even though the curve is not going down, yet it’s beginning to flatten in the South, it is still below a thousand in total. So our hope is not only that curve in the South, that the North and central continue to flatten, that the South levels and flattens, and the numbers overall stay low.
Governor Phil Murphy: (07:03)
Our field medical stations reported 46 patients and they have treated a total of 380 of our fellow New Jerseyans since opening. There were 1,724 patients reported in either critical or intensive care, and this continues the overall trend from last week. Ventilator use currently stands at 1,286, and this is relatively, Judy, I think unchanged since yesterday. There were 532 new hospitalizations yesterday, and on discharges 571 live patients were released from our hospitals yesterday.
Governor Phil Murphy: (07:41)
Another day over day increased, but, pause there for a second, 532 people between 10:00 PM and 10:00 PM entered a hospital in New Jersey. So I want to open this place up as fast as anybody, but we have to keep in mind there are still a lot of people in hospitals and going into hospitals. The numbers are better but they’re not zero, and we need to get in there as fast as possible. Again, the numbers are showing positive trends and these are the trends that we will need to see carried over in the coming weeks if we are to put ourselves on that road back and begin the restart of our economy.
Governor Phil Murphy: (08:20)
Again, I understand that people and businesses are anxious for a more specific timetable for when we can restart and begin to move forward, by the way, so a mine, it’s this simple, in addition to the precious lives data determines dates. That means when we see our benchmarks and key factors like testing or hospitalizations, we could begin considering a specific timetable, but again, data determines dates.
Governor Phil Murphy: (08:50)
I cannot stress enough how big a test this weekend will be in terms of keeping these trend lines moving in the right direction, and if you will, essentially an experiment on how we can together responsibly take that step forward, even if it may be a baby step, it’s an important one to get into our parks, to play golf, to see how we do, and if we do well together then we can most likely take other steps sooner than later. So let’s do this together folks.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:19)
Today with the heaviest of hearts as we do every day, we are reporting 311 additional deaths from COVID-19. Our statewide total is now unspeakably 7,538 precious lives lost. As this is our practice, let’s honor some of those precious souls who we have lost. First, let’s bring up a giant, Dr. Harvey Hirsch, a longtime and beloved pediatrician at the center for Health Education, medicine and dentistry in Lakewood. He was also a fixture at Monmouth Medical Center.
Governor Phil Murphy: (09:56)
My wife was formerly on the board there, and while she did not know him personally, she said he was, “A legend at Monmouth medical.” He was known for his kindness and compassion, and the respect he showed his patients and their families. He had been a practicing pediatrician for more than 30 years, recognized by New Jersey Monthly Magazine with its top doctor award in 2011, and by New Jersey Family Magazine as our state’s favorite kid’s doctor in 2012. Look at the smile, Judy, look at the stethoscope, look at the tie. What a mensch.
Governor Phil Murphy: (10:36)
Despite concerns about his being exposed to COVID-19, he insisted on continuing to care for every patient who came for help, regardless, by the way of whether or not they were a regular patient, and we lost him to COVID-19 on Tuesday. To Dr. Hirsch’s wife, Mrs. Yehuda’s Simcha Hirsch, with whom I had the great honor of speaking last night. She said a blessing for her was that all of their children were in and around her in Lakewood, and to everyone he cared for may his memory be a blessing.
Governor Phil Murphy: (11:11)
Matthew Stehr of Denville. Matthew looks like he’s in a mission impossible movie there. Look at that. I love that. He spent nearly 18 years working in the Morris County Clerk’s Office, most recently as assistant supervisor in the registry department tracking real estate and historical documents. He is the first Morris County employee to pass from COVID-19. County Clerk Ann Grossi recalled Matt as a “Exemplary employee.” With “Genuine enthusiasm.” And as someone who took on any task. In fact, Matt enjoyed undertaking labor projects like a complete reorganization of the County Clerks map room, as well as the cataloging of County real estate and historical records.
Governor Phil Murphy: (12:03)
I spoke with Matt’s mother Marty yesterday, and that was, you could imagine, a tough conversation to express our condolences to her and her family and all of Matt’s friends. In fact, Matt’s brother Michael, his big brother Michael is also battling COVID-19, and recently was moved out of ICU, and so please everybody pray for Michael’s continued recovery. His little brother Matt was only 38 years old, and his mom described what it was like telling big brother Michael about his little brother’s passing, and it doesn’t get any more emotional than that. God bless them all.
Governor Phil Murphy: (12:44)
This is Cherie La Pelusa. She was the beloved wife of a friend, Bayonne third Ward Councilman, Gary La Pelusa. Cherie was a Bayonne original, born and raised. She is co-owner of her husband’s landscaping business, and she also, pardon me, she was co-owner of her husband’s landscaping business, and she also ran his civic association, organizing food and toy drives and dinners to celebrate the people making a difference in the community. And Gary is a guy that I’ve walked the streets of Bayonne with together on more than one occasion.
Governor Phil Murphy: (13:23)
Along with her husband Gary, Cherie leaves behind her daughters, Jennifer, Giana and two sons, David and Gary jr. As Gary said to me, “We’ve got four kids, three adults and a 12 year old and Giana is the 12 year old.” And to each of the four of them, and to Gary, our hearts and prayers go out to you. And by the way, Cherie was only 53 years old, and was in the midst of the battle of her life, not just with her own health, but her mom is also battling this awful thing, and it was unspeakable. Gary said, ” There she was trying to save her mom’s life, and in fact she lost her own.” So to Cherie, to Gary, to Cherie’s mom who’s in our prayers, to their four wonderful kids, and everybody they touched in Bayonne and beyond, god bless you all.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:16)
These are three more of the faces COVID-19 has forever taken from us. We remember each and every single one. Again, as I said yesterday, more New Jerseyans we have lost in most of our nation’s wars and other cataclysmic events combined. It’s a staggering toll, and I remind you that our flags continue to fly at half staff for all of them. And today, which is the first time this has ever happened since I’ve been governor, I signed an executive order that the flags today in addition to all the victims of COVID-19 would be flying in half staff in the memory of former First Lady Debby Kean, who passed last weekend.
Governor Phil Murphy: (14:58)
So to her as our state’s former first lady and to her husband, the former governor and their children, including Senator Kean. God bless each and every one of them, and God bless the families of those who have been lost in the memories and the blessings of the those who have been lost to COVID-19 and may we all together continue our work together to stop this awful scourge and bring this to an end.
Governor Phil Murphy: (15:25)
Switching gears today, I am signing an executive order relaxing the in-person requirements for both the solemnization of marriage licenses for couples, and for working papers for minors. On marriages, wedding ceremonies will be allowed to be held using video conferencing technology with certain safeguards. Municipalities are still permitted to allow in-person ceremonies, but subject to social distancing, but they will not be required to do so. Even in these times, there are joyous occasions like marriages that we can still celebrate safely and smartly.
Governor Phil Murphy: (16:02)
… And we can still celebrate safely. And smartly and for working papers, the requirement that school, a district designated individual given person sign off is waived for this emergency. Obviously the fact that our schools remain closed has made getting required sign-offs on these papers challenging for young people who wish to work. And as today is May 1st, May Day I might add, I want to remind all renters that under an executive order I signed last week, you are able to have your security deposit used to cover your rent either in part or in full. I read an op-ed by a citizen today in the Asbury Park Press that called me a despot and I read the first couple of paragraphs to determine why I would be considered a despot and it was the fact that I allowed folks to get access to their security deposit.
Governor Phil Murphy: (16:59)
Okay. I’ll also want to reiterate that no renters are to be threatened with eviction throughout this emergency and under no circumstances may any landlord even attempt to evict a tenant. No one should fear losing their home. In fact, we have set up a standalone page for renters and landlords on our information hub, COVID19.NJ.gov/renter. I encourage you to make that your first stop. Before I turn things over to Judy, I want to give a couple of well-deserved thank yous to some of our fellow New Jerseyians who continue to pitch in to help us through this emergency. First, let’s meet Brooklyn Sherrill and Sam Halseth of Ocean City. They own a digital marketing firm called Shore View Creative, but they’re taking their creativity in new directions by organizing an eBay auction of one of a kind custom painted sneakers, and all proceeds will go to the COVID-19 solidarity response fund for the World Health Organization.
Governor Phil Murphy: (18:06)
And by the way, this is kind of cool. Neither Brooklyn nor Sam are native new Jerseyians. They moved here two years ago, each of them and their family’s from Minnesota, but they are now full fledged members of our New Jersey family and to each of them New Jersey thanks you. If you look carefully, I assume that Sam on the right, I just hope Michelangelo does not Sue for copyright infringement. I think that’s a version of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But those are extraordinary. Look at them, just alive with energy. Very cool sneakers. Give them your attention and sign up and participate in that auction and raise some money for an incredibly good cause. And finally, here’s one from my neck of the woods and a place I know well, the Two River Theater in red bank to support healthcare and social workers across Monmouth County, the costume shop staff led by Leslie Sorenson, has taken to repurposing materials and outfits from past shows into masks.
Governor Phil Murphy: (19:07)
Additionally, the theater has been keeping its art mission alive by producing its own online daily artists features, at home activities for kids and adults, and live digital classes and workshops. So to everyone at the Two River Theater, a particular shout out to founder Joan Remnants and God bless her late husband Bob Remnants who passed not that long ago to artistic director and other dear friend John Diaz everybody there. Thank you for all you’re doing. To keep the arts alive and well, even if we can’t visit you in person, which I hope we can do sometime soon. And that’s as good a place as any to get ready to turn the program over. But before I do, again, I want to say again, please remember this weekend is going to be an important one for us and an important sign for how we move forward and at what pace we move forward and get ourselves on the road back to restart and recovery.
Governor Phil Murphy: (20:03)
When the parks open tomorrow, please act responsibly and follow the rules and precautions. I want us all to be able to enjoy our parks together even if we have to remain six feet apart, and even if we have to speak through face coverings. What I don’t want to do, please God, I don’t want to have to close those parks again. So let’s do what you’ve been doing so extraordinary well for these past so many weeks. Let’s make this work together. With that, please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction, the commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Judy Persichilli: (20:38)
Thank you governor. Good afternoon. With the opening of parks and golf courses this weekend, I think it’s time to remind you all of our basics. Visit parks that are close to your home. Stay at least six feet from others. Bring hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands frequently. Face masks, cloth ones, are strongly encouraged. Practice respiratory etiquette. Avoid gathering with others outside of your household. Don’t visit crowded parks where you cannot appropriately distance from others. Don’t, obviously, visit a park if you’re sick or if you have recently been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Don’t use the playground or participate in organized sports or congregate with others. Do not share your golf carts. Social distancing has helped us slow the spread of this virus. I know we’re all eager, myself included, to resume normal activities and gather with our friends and families again, but we cannot abandon these vital measures that have us protect one another. Last evening as reported, our hospitals reported 5,972 hospitalizations of COVID-19. This number has been in a steady decline. It is down 28% from a high of 8,293 individuals hospitalized on April 14th. There are 1,724 individuals in critical care. 75% of those individuals are on ventilators, which is slightly up from yesterday. Today we’re reporting 2,651 new cases for a total of 121,190 cases in the state and we’re reporting 311 additional deaths for a total of 7,538 fatalities. The breakdown of deaths by race and ethnicity is as follows. White 52. 6%, black 19.6, Hispanic 17.3, Asian 5.3, other 5.2. There are now 498 longterm care facilities, assisted living facilities, dementia homes in the state that are reporting individuals with COVID-19.
Judy Persichilli: (23:25)
At the state veterans homes among a census of 696 residents collectively, there have been 327 residents that have tested positive and there have been four additional deaths from yesterday. Two from Menlo Park and two from Paramus. At our state psychiatric hospitals, 161 patients have tested positive and there have been nine deaths among patients with a census of a 1,257, and that has not changed for the last several days. According to our lab data, 229,693 individuals have been tested, 94,338 have returned positive for a positivity rate of 41.7%. so that concludes my daily report. Again, please continue to follow social distancing guidelines. It’s making a difference. Stay connected, stay safe and stay healthy.
Governor Phil Murphy: (24:27)
Judy, thank you for that and thank you for everything. The top counties as we normally hit in terms of total positive cases, Bergen followed by Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Union, Middlesex I spoke to … Had an exchange this morning with Mayor Brian Stack and Union City. We’ve said this, the curves continue to go in the right direction, but you’re piling up every day and again, we’re expanding testing dramatically. So that’s part of the reason, but we’re not out of the woods yet. Right. The positivity number, just to remind everybody, it’s now really going on two weeks that that’s begun. Drift is the word I would use, right? It’s been drifting from a high of around 45% down to about 41.1% today.
Governor Phil Murphy: (25:13)
Thank you for the reminders of the little stuff that we have to do. The very basic things that we have to make sure we’re continuing to do. Let’s not lose track of that. Staying away from each other, wearing face coverings, good hygiene. Those are all the best weapons we’ve got, so thank you for that. Another guy who I don’t know where we’d be without, Pat Callahan, please update us on compliance on PPE, infrastructure, other matters. I know there’s one situation in particular you wanted to give some clarity to that happened in Trenton here last night, so please.
Pat Callahan: (25:46)
Yes sir. Thank you governor. With regard to overnight compliance, Newark Police Department issued 69 EO violations and closed one non-essential business. In Point Pleasant, one subject was cited for having the gym open, allowing clients to exercise. In New Brunswick one subject was cited for the EO violation, failing to disperse. In Passaic, a subject was also failed to disperse and was cited for Neo violation. In Mansfield township, Warren County, the owner of a nail salon was cited for operating a non-essential business. In Patterson, the owner was cited for having a non essential furniture store open. In Patterson, two subjects recited for also failing to disperse. In Passaic, the owner as well as two customers were cited in violation of the EO for one owner having a massage parlor open and the two customers inside for being in it when the police arrived.
Pat Callahan: (26:55)
In Clinton, I’ll end with this one because it segues into another issue. In Clinton, an elderly subject was contacted and this is a scan that we’ve seen a lot. It’s not new, but I think the social distancing and physical and psychological isolation is having those prey upon our elderly with regard to what’s referred to as a bail scam saying that her grandson was lodged in bail and needed $5,000. The subject did actually put $5,000 in the mail, that was subsequently stopped by the US Postal Service. But I just want to put it out there from a situational awareness, no one should be sending via mail or wiring funding. I know the attorney generals task force they put together with regard to fraud are looking into this, and again it’s not particularly new scam but, but I think they’re preying the elderly in a time when that isolation leads to the elderly wanting to take care of their loved ones.
Pat Callahan: (28:00)
So I just flagged that for everybody out there. And lastly to the governor’s point with regard to the incident last night at the Anderson Funeral Home, just to clarify a few facts with regards to that. There was a total of 18 descendants, not 19 as previously reported. State police personnel in addition to Trenton police and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office did respond there. There was not to be found anything of any criminal violation. After the assessment done by state police personnel. And the others there, the Anderson Funeral Home transported 11 of those descendants to the central temporary morgue site. I think it should be noted that Anderson had previously used that temporary morgue site as well, so they did know it was there. This was simply a case where they just got overwhelmed. Seven of the decedents were permitted to remain there because their funeral service are being held over the course of the next three days.
Pat Callahan: (29:03)
In response to that, we had re-messaged what we had put out over the last few weeks to the Funeral Directors Association, New Jersey Hospital Association, longterm care as well as our County OEMs all of the guidance that we put into the efforts, and I know you’ve heard me speak to it over the past several weeks on mortuary affairs. Not a topic we want to discuss, but we have spent a lot of time and resources to help assist all of those that are struggling with the death associated with this brutal virus. And I just wanted to remind everybody of that and set the record straight with regard to what happened last night at Anderson Funeral Home. Governor?
Governor Phil Murphy: (29:42)
Pat, thank you and I appreciate your doing that. Two quick comments. We’ll start Brendan over here with Dustin for our … Before we go to questions, two quick points. Number one on schools, I can save you the questions. We’ll give you word early week, my hope is on Monday as to what we’re going to do about schools, so we’ve promised, we’ve said again for everybody to remind them that we have said that we’re on remote learning until at least May 15 and we would let folks know at latest on May 15th what the balance of this school year looks like. We would hope to give you our guidance not on May 15th, but I would hope Monday or Tuesday. I’m hoping on Monday, May 4th rather. Secondly on just, I think Judy and Pat and Christina may bear repeating, just reading from the executive orders as it relates to parks and golf and just want to make sure folks aren’t surprised by things when they show up.
Governor Phil Murphy: (30:41)
So picnic areas, playgrounds, exercise stations and equipment, pavilions, restrooms, other buildings, facilities, visitors centers will remain closed. So when you show up at the park, don’t assume that stuff’s going to be open. Parking will be limited to 50% of maximum capacity, no picnicking. Social distancing, as Judy said, must be practiced except only with immediate family members. No organized or contact activities or sports, no gatherings. We’re not making you, but we are strongly recommending that you have a face covering.
Governor Phil Murphy: (31:17)
So that’s sort of the park picture. Please expect that when you show up, expect that those are going to be the rules of the road. As it relates to golf, I don’t know that we’ve ever read this. I’m going to just read this out for you golfers who are getting ready for tomorrow. Golf courses are open so long as they adopt minimum social distancing policies that include, and this is what is included in that, electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems, extended tee times that are 16 minutes apart, limiting the use of golf carts to one person, requiring frequent and after use sanitization of high touch areas such as restrooms, range-
Governor Phil Murphy: (32:03)
Of high touch areas such as restrooms, range buckets, golf carts and push carts, implementing measures restricting the touching of golf holes and flags such as putting pins in the hole, requiring that flags stay in and provide player education on not touching the flag, closing golf center buildings, pro shops and other buildings and amenities, removing furniture like benches, water coolers and ball washers from the course, discontinuing club and equipment rentals, limiting groups to two players unless the foursome consists of immediate family, et cetera. Again, let’s start there. Don’t be surprised when those are the parameters when you show up tomorrow and again like everything else in life, assuming we keep these curves going in the right direction and you all comply by the rules of the road, slowly but surely we’ll be able to continue to expand either some of those rules as specific to parks or golf and maybe as importantly about more so take other steps based on hopefully a successful weekend. Thank you all for listening, as always. Let’s start with Dustin.
Thanks. Can you detail where the state stands on contact tracing and whether you know what percentage of people have had their contacts traced? On beaches, does the state have any recommendation on when they should open? I know that’s a town by town decision, but do you have any general recommendations and what restrictions should be in place? And do you have an opinion on towns that have taken action or are considering restricting beach access to residents only? And then I have two questions from the press of Atlantic City for the health commissioner. Hammonton Center for Rehabilitation has 147 infections, one of the highest in the state, have you figured out what led to the dramatic increase in the number of cases at that facility in such a short amount of time? Also, is this facility accepting patients that have tested positive for the virus?
Governor Phil Murphy: (34:06)
I’ll give you a couple of thoughts and then, again, the general comment on contact tracing is it’s a combination of boots on the ground and technology to get it to the place alongside testing that we are going to feel confident and be able to have you feel confident that we’ve got the right health care infrastructure in place including a plan for isolation. Judy can comment about what’s been done so far, but those are sort of benchmarks. That’s part of our road to recovery. That’s one of the important points on there. I don’t have a crisp answer in terms of how many boots nor which technology, but that’s sort of the general thought. Beaches are a local decision with the exception of Island Beach and I believe Matt Platkin is with us, our chief counsel will tell us that a township actually can not legally restrict folks from outside of their townships. So that’s actually not within their right to do so, but my guess we’ll be giving you pretty good and pretty specific guidance on beaches, even those that are the overwhelming amount of which are not in our purview, but not yet. Would you add anything to that, Matt?
Matt Platkin: (35:10)
No, that’s perfect.
Governor Phil Murphy: (35:13)
I’m going to sign up for law school at night here on that basis. Judy, anything on contact tracing and or is it a nursing home specifically, you asked about Dustin. Thank you. Tina, sorry.
Dr. Christina Tan: (35:29)
About the contact tracing, we just want to remind everybody that our local health departments ever since this has been an issue in New Jersey and you a lot of us have been working on this actually since around January- February, just to keep that in mind, we have had contact tracing efforts going on for a very long time. And what the state is in the process of doing right now is in anticipation of potentially identifying more cases because we’re ramping up testing, test and then you’ll invariably find more cases, we’re in the process of trying to augment our contact tracing, both in terms of the manpower that would help assist with doing the contact tracing because no matter what, you cannot replace that human element of doing the contact tracing. And this is to help assist the already fantastic efforts that the local health departments have been doing.
Dr. Christina Tan: (36:24)
And I would be remiss by not saying that the local health departments, during this entire time, have been identifying their own resources. They’ve already been augmenting their staff at the local level as well. And what we want to do is we want to help them in the event that they need to meet more surge. And we also want to develop technology solutions that will help assist and to standardize and to augment, again, those contact tracing efforts because there’s going to be a lot of data that has to be managed and that would be the intent of having these additional technology supports to assist the local efforts.
Governor Phil Murphy: (37:08)
Judy, on this particular home.
Judy Persichilli: (37:11)
I can’t speak to the particular home. I could probably look it up, but I can speak to the process that we’re using for longterm care. As you all know and I’ve reported, we looked at 16 facilities in the south and we are following up. The process is test and then retest all the negatives so that we know exactly the status of the residents and the staff in longterm care facilities. As usual, we’ve separated out the state into north, central and south and we will be rolling out testing I think in about 30 additional longterm care facilities over the next week. That’s in collaboration with some of our health systems similar to what we did in South Jersey, but it will be a test and a retest. And there is indication that for longterm care over the long haul there will be constant testing and retesting and retesting.
Governor Phil Murphy: (38:24)
We can get back to you, I assume, on the specifics, Dustin, if [inaudible 00:38:28] could keep that in mind, that’d be great. Sir, do you have anything back there? Do you have something?
Dave Schatz: (38:33)
Yeah. Hi Dave Schatz here with New Brunswick Today. Thank you. I wanted to really acknowledge you for your extreme energy and leadership, just this extreme focus is impressive in my mind. And thanks to the whole team.
Governor Phil Murphy: (38:53)
Dave Schatz: (38:56)
I was wondering if you-
Governor Phil Murphy: (38:57)
That usually comes with a but.
Dave Schatz: (39:03)
I was wondering if you can give a little overview on the monetary policy and kind of put it into perspective of helping just the general lay person understand the whole easing of credit and the federal reserves actions. And yesterday when you spoke with the president, you said it was a partnership and we’d need 20 or 30 what billion dollars. Is that part of what the federal reserve is doing? Are we getting money in combination with New York with the improvement authority? And are we going to come out just totally in debt or is it aide?
Governor Phil Murphy: (40:11)
May I? Thank you. Thanks for your good words. This is a healthcare crisis unlike anything the state has ever seen. And I think you could say with the same amount of conviction that the country has ever seen and you might be able to say the same comment about the world. Our responsibility is New Jersey and it has a healthcare crisis unlike any and it has led to an economic crisis unlike any. And that includes both expenses that are going up, up and up because we are at the front lines, whether you’re unemployed, pardon me, or you’re a small business or you’re a transit system or a hospital system or you’re a municipality county, or, in our case, a state. Expenses are going up and revenues have fallen as you’ve seen by any metric either in our state or in the country off the table, off a cliff. The hole is enormous.
Governor Phil Murphy: (41:13)
Our best guess is that that hole between now and the end of next year’s fiscal year, so this is between May 1 of 2020 and June 30 of 2021, is somewhere in that range. And we can’t say a pinpoint a hole of $20 to $30 billion, either created by increased expenses, foregone revenues, or a combination of each. And as I mentioned yesterday, I have to certify a budget including that the revenues that we put in a budget are adequate to meet the expenses. In a funny way, foregone revenues is in fact in a different way to say that is an inability to finance our expenditures and outlays. The levers that we can pull, other than getting our economy open again in righting the ship, which we will do responsibly. But again, remember public health creates economic health and it’s got to be in that order.
Governor Phil Murphy: (42:13)
Some of the levers that we either are pulling or need to pull would be number one, the interpretation of the CARES act, which was assigned I think five weeks ago today that Matt has been leading with the US Treasury. We’ve made some good progress. They’re coming out with more guidance I think early week. We just hope that guidance allows us to use all the money that we need to use from that. That’s one lever. It’s a fraction of what we ultimately need.
Governor Phil Murphy: (42:42)
Another big lever is another bill to make its way through Congress, both the House and the Senate and to be signed by the president, a bill that we desperately need to include direct cash assistance for states. And again, as I made clear yesterday in the White House and I would say again today, this isn’t about our legacy issues. I got elected to fix the economy and to address the legacy issues that had built up over decades from both sides of the aisle, by the way. And we had made an enormous amount of progress at our two plus years on record pension payments, managing indebtedness, rainy day funds, et cetera. We had a long way to go, but we have a plan. We had a plan and we have a plan.
Governor Phil Murphy: (43:28)
As I’ve mentioned several times now, our friend Mike Tyson says, everyone’s got a plan until you get punched in the face. What we need help with is recovery from the punch in the face. This is to help us to allow to continue to have educators, fire fighters, police, EMS, frontline responders at the point of attack to allow us to continue to have them on the payroll. And that’s where that $20 to $30 billion number comes from. The alternative is an awful result, not just for New Jersey, but for America. How can we even fathom a state where we don’t have enough firefighters, police educators, EMS folks. And if that weren’t enough that those folks are then all unemployed. It’s an alternative none of us can accept. And so the second lever is we need a very significant amount of money not to deal with our legacy issues, we’ve got a plan for that, but with the here and now to deal with our response to this awful virus.
Governor Phil Murphy: (44:27)
And then the third piece, and I’ve gone on too long, is the federal reserve did in fact about now four or five weeks ago for the first time ever put forward a liquidity program that would allow them and envision them to buy municipal bonds. That is very attractive for us. In fact, we discussed it in the White House with the president and his economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, yesterday, and we’ve got some followup on the back of that. Having the ability to borrow, even if it’s a bridge borrowing, to allow us to borrow that and then the federal direct cash assistance, God willing, can come in and help us pay that debt down. A recovering economy can help us get back on our feet and help us responsibly pay that debt down.
Governor Phil Murphy: (45:11)
I don’t wake up in the morning wanting to borrow more money. In fact, we’ve spent over two years reducing our indebtedness, reducing our structural deficits, but this is a crisis unlike any other. We need to have the ability to access that. We need our legislative brothers and sisters to come along with us in that regard. We’ve made good progress. We need to make more progress. I could go on, but those are the three or four big levers. The CARES act, we need a ton more federal direct cash assistance, we need access to that federal reserve borrowing window and ultimately, and probably most importantly, we need an economy that’s recovering, getting back on its feet and generating again the sort of revenue that we have been generating to allow us to pay our bills. Thank you for that. We’ll come down to Elyse, please.
Good afternoon. The new suppliers that were promised yesterday, the test kits and the swabs and the PPE, will that be distributed throughout the state and is it coming via operation airbridge? And my second question, are we seeing an uptick in nonessential businesses staying open, jumping the gun on when they could open legally and how worrisome is that if that’s a trend? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (46:29)
I believe this is accurate and Pat will correct me on the first one. I think we have the supplies. I believe they’re all here.
If they haven’t hit the warehouse, they’re in route, but it’s not airbridge. And that strategy, Elyse, is being constructed, as the governor’s always been saying, we’re trying to double our testing capacity. That’s being worked at right now.
Governor Phil Murphy: (46:54)
But I believe we’ve got them and we’ll come back, [inaudible 00:46:57] come back to Elyse if you could, if I’m not wrong about that. How they’ll be distributed is to be determined. I think you may have heard me say yesterday, Elyse, that we’re working on the testing strategy that’s led by Judy with a particular emphasis on things like particularly deeply effected communities: our corrections system, developmental disabilities, home psychiatric hospitals, longterm care. A whole family there, another family of trying to activate mobile sets of mobile units to go in particularly to our most densely populated urban populations. And then eventually we’re going to want to get to the point and I don’t want to jump the gun because we’re not there yet and I’m practicing without a license, we want to be able to get to the broader asymptomatic population just to get a better epidemiological handle on this virus. But more on that as we develop it. Matt Platkin, tell me if you disagree, if a nonessential business is operating right now, they are out of compliance and they should not be. And so I-
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:03)
… they are out of compliance and they should not be. Am I worried? I’m not sure I’m worried. I’m mad. We need folks to go on covid19.nj.gov and tell us where those businesses are because we do not want that. Matt, anything you want to add to that?
No. If a business is ordered to be closed, they have to follow the order and all businesses that are open have to follow the orders that you’ve laid out for strict policies regarding social distancing and other mitigation efforts to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread.
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:34)
I don’t want you to rat anybody out, but any follow-up we could have, and tell us where that is. We’ll be glad to take it. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:40)
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:41)
You’re good? Thank you. Ian?
Governor Phil Murphy: (48:46)
You’re back to your normal spot, Ian.
Governor, with parks and golf courses being reopened this weekend, how will social distancing be enforced? Our viewers are curious if they’ll be seeing police helicopters or drones monitoring parks. Does a good opening weekend for parks pave the way for other institutions to open? Specifically, we’re looking at any consideration to reopen casinos.
Commissioner Persichilli, how involved does the state plan to get in antibody testing, and what do you hope to learn from it? What part does it play in the state’s reopening plans? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (49:21)
Thank you. I’ll start and Pat and you may want to come in behind me on compliance. Judy, you will certainly want to come in with Christina on antibody.
Governor Phil Murphy: (49:35)
I’ll go to your second question first, if I may. A good weekend will matter a lot. I don’t think it leads directly to casinos. I think we have to start, Matt and I were having this conversation earlier, with sort of developing, we’re war gaming, what a sort of series of rings of steps looks like. I think it’s fair to say things that are outdoors, Madam Commissioner, give us more latitude than things where we’re all packed in on the inside, so I can’t give you any sense on the specifics as it relates to casinos. But I will say this, a good weekend and good compliance is going to matter. It’s going to matter in the specifics as it relates to parks staying open, golf staying open, but maybe more importantly it’s going to matter if we get back, and by the way, folks, you’ve been great. I just want to say that. Continue to be great.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:27)
If we keep seeing those curves come down, we get those testing materials that are now here, we get the contact tracing, you then start to see a lot of pieces of that road to recovery plan looking more real. And that’s going to give us more latitude.
Governor Phil Murphy: (50:43)
I don’t know of any plans, Pat could discuss this on his drone strategy, but we’re going to have a significant presence: State park police, state police, local authorities. I’ll leave it at that, and Pat might want to add some more color on that, but we’re going to we’re watching. I just want to make sure folks know we’re watching. We’re not trying to be jerks. We’re trying to watch and hopefully like what we see.
Pat Callahan: (51:09)
Thank you, Governor. The only thing I would add is almost daily you’ve seen in the compliance reports where a store owner or customers have done the policing or tried to on their own. I would hope that that continues, not that we’re putting a law enforcement component onto the public, but as this whole community approach that we talk about, if somebody is too close to you at a park or not wearing a facial covering, which is recommended, we’re hoping that us New Jerseyans say, “Hey, we’re trying to keep these parks and golf courses open. Let’s all pull our weight and do our share.”
Governor Phil Murphy: (51:45)
Amen. Thank you. Judy or Christina, anything on either social distancing, antibody tests or any other topics?
Judy Persichilli: (51:51)
I’m just going to start a little bit on testing and then I’m going to let Dr. Tan talk about the utility of serology, antibody testing. Right now, our expanding testing, we will be doing the diagnostic molecular tests, the PCR test, which is either the saliva test or the nasal swab. The serology test, which is a blood test, I guess you do it through a prick of a finger, has some utility for certain things that you’re looking for that the epidemiologists can speak better to.
Dr. Christina Tan: (52:26)
Right. Basically the serology tests, the utility is that for the individual is somewhat limited because knowing whether or not a person has antibodies, has positive antibody tests, does not mean that you know whether the person might actually have immunity to the virus. Not all individuals can necessarily generate antibodies, so sometimes you might have people who might’ve been infected who might not generate the antibody response.
Dr. Christina Tan: (52:57)
In terms of the utility for the individual, as the World Health Organization has put it, the serology tests are not meant to be an immunity passport. We don’t know whether this is useful information for whether or not a person can return to work safely without the risk of possible re-infection, for example, or other aspects, or a negative test doesn’t necessarily mean that they might not have been exposed in the past.
Dr. Christina Tan: (53:25)
We do think that the serology tests do have utility for potentially characterizing population burden. For example, we know that many different jurisdictions throughout the country in conjunction with the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and we in New Jersey are looking at sero-prevalence surveys where basically what we’re doing is we’re doing a snapshot of individuals who might have been exposed and might’ve been infected in the past to kind of characterize that, the scope of the illnesses that we might not have captured with the acute cases of illnesses that we see that are captured through the diagnostic tests that the commissioner had mentioned.
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:13)
Brent, you get to close this out here. Hold on one sec.
New York, I know you mentioned schools a little bit, but I just wanted to ask a little more about it. New York is keeping schools close now. Do you know, any idea if you’re leaning towards that or anything else you could say? Do we have a clue where these new cases are coming from? With the few thousand that we’re seeing, do we know if they’re coming from longterm-care facilities or all from the south or-
Governor Phil Murphy: (54:38)
New positives, you mean?
Yeah, new positives. Yeah.
We’re hearing from hospitals, especially in the central part of the state, that they still don’t have enough PPE, especially gowns. I’m wondering if there’s any update on that or who they could go to or whether they go to the federal government or to you to ask for that?
Then a three, or fourth, this is just, tennis courts, are they also going to be closed to parks? I didn’t see anything in the order about that. That was it. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:06)
Okay. I’ll start and I think it sounds like Pat and or Judy. Nothing on schools. Good try, but nothing on schools. You’ll hear early week. Thank you for that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:18)
New positive cases. I was actually looking at this by county. Number one overnight, Judy, is Passaic. Passaic is number four overall. I assume you mean geographically?
Yeah, geographically. Sorry.
Geographically, one, and do we also have any clue where they’re actually coming from? Are these from nursing homes? Are they from people walking out about? I figured I’d ask.
Governor Phil Murphy: (55:44)
I’ll give you the counties and then Judy can speculate. I’m not sure we do know that. But number one is, Oh, this is just literally on the overnight of the 2,651. Passaic was number one. Essex, number two, and then there’s a cluster in and around three, four, five. Bergen, Hudson, and Middlesex and Union, which, by the way, interestingly enough, are the six counties that have continued to be the cumulative most amount of positive tests.
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:14)
Again, remember one thing which we’ve said a thousand times, but it bears repeating, where we’ve expanded testing dramatically, our friends in Camden County, I think it was about 10 days ago, said that they were trying to weigh up the spike, to what extent is it community spread? East Camden, the community of East Camden or the part of Camden City was a particular concern, remains to some extent a particular concern, but you also had much more access to testing in that County. I’ll let Judy come in.
Governor Phil Murphy: (56:48)
Gowns. I think we’ve said this. Gowns continue to, have now become, someone said quote unquote “the new ventilator.” Gowns are a problem. I would say they should not go to the feds. They should come to their OEMs, I would think, at the county or go right to the rock. I’ll let Judy and Pat come back to that.
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:06)
Tennis courts. Matt?
Up to the county or the municipality.
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:09)
Up to the county or municipality. Any comments first of all on PPE, on gowns?
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:15)
Where should folks go? I’ve heard from CentraState, for instance, a couple of times.
Pat Callahan: (57:19)
We still have them on order and it is not just a New Jersey problem. We were on call with Connecticut and New York last night and gowns from not only from ordering them. I think the shift in local manufacturers to making them for us is another avenue that we’re pursuing. They remain a top priority.
Governor Phil Murphy: (57:38)
Judy, anything on either gowns, the press in the central part of the state and or where new cases are coming from?
Judy Persichilli: (57:46)
Yeah. I mean we can’t tell where new cases are coming from. But that’s the point, that even if there’s a few cases in a county, we have to assume that people are being exposed. Even if you have one case, we know that you’ve exposed someone. That’s why it’s so important for us to keep up with social distancing to stay home, to do all the things we tell you to do. I think we learned our lessons in New Jersey in the very beginning when we had a whole family from a family gathering fall sick and many of them unfortunately passed. We learned our lessons that the social gatherings and being apart from one another is the only way to stop this.
Judy Persichilli: (58:29)
I did want to talk, if you don’t mind, I was trying to get Dr. Tan’s opinion on this. The serology tests in previously recovered positive COVID-19 for plasma infusions is still recognized. They do the serology test to see if you have the antibodies and if you want to donate your plasma, because they are finding that plasma infusions may be helpful. I’m going to let the real doctor …
Dr. Christina Tan: (59:00)
Right. No, that’s absolutely correct. If individuals are COVID recovering patients that they’re, if you just Google it, I don’t have this here, but the American Red Cross and the FDA are running all these efforts to try to collect and to pursue this plasma collection for that purpose, therapeutic purpose.
Governor Phil Murphy: (59:24)
I think you can also go on COVID19.nj.gov. [Mahan 00:11:28], if you can’t, let’s make sure we get a page up on where to go as it relates to plasma.
Governor Phil Murphy: (59:33)
I’m going to mask here as I take us out. I want to thank Commissioner Judy Persichilli, Dr. Christina Tan, Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan, Director Maples, Chief Counsel Matt Platkin, to each and every one of you.
Governor Phil Murphy: (59:46)
A housekeeping matter, we’ll be here tomorrow at 1:00 PM, Mahan. 1:00, as has been our habit. On Sunday, we will communicate electronically or so-called on paper unless there’s a reason to get together with you either telephonically or in person. Then Monday will be somewhat dependent on whether or not we have a White House VTC. Mahan and team will come back and give you details.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:00:10)
I know this will be largely in Pat’s arena and his colleagues in law enforcement, including the state park police up and down the state, but we will give you a pretty rich readout on Monday of what we saw over the weekend. The weather should be decent. We are completely respectful of the enormity of the effort put in so far, folks, and also the mental health challenges to all of us. Who doesn’t want to get out right now and get some fresh air and exercise a little bit. Not only do we not begrudge that, we want you to do that. But please, please keep doing what you’ve been doing. Again, don’t congregate, social distancing of at least six feet, wear something on your face. Do the little things, washing your hands with soap and water. If you keep doing that, we have a good weekend, that bodes well, not just for outdoor activity, but for other steps we think we can responsibly take going forward.
Governor Phil Murphy: (01:01:08)
Thank you all, and God bless you all.