Gov. Phil Murphy Monday outlined principles for a plan he has named:”The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health”. In it he stresses the need for infrastructure that would help check the novel coronavirus in the coming months.
Murphy did not mention specific dates or modifications to the current restrictions. His stay-at-home order remains in effect. Most retail remains closed. Masks remain required in those stores that are allowed to open and public gatherings remain banned.
(New Jersey residents) are not looking for a date. They are looking for a plan,” Congressman Tom Malinowski said at Murphy’s daily coronavirus news briefing Monday. “They understand the reopening is not something the governor can make happen by waving a magic wand.”
Murphy’s lieutenant governor, Sheilla Oliver, expressed a similar opinion: “I think that the ‘Road Back’ is reflective of the sentiment of the people of New Jersey.”
The outlined principles announced need to be met as the economy reopens among them, greater testing capacity and contact tracing that could help contain outbreaks in the future. He described it as a process guided by “data, science, health progress and common sense.”
He stressed that the effort would be coordinated with neighboring states, but that not all sectors of the economy would reopen in exact sync with the rest of the region.
And he warned that there will be consequences to the reopening, ones he hopes to mitigate with greater public health capacity.
“We are fully prepared that when we restart our economy, we will see COVID-19 cases,” Murphy said. “Even if we bat 1000, even if we get everything right, we will see cases.”
He said even as a staggered reopening moves forward, New Jerseyans should expect some restrictions to stay in place — for instance, work-from-home directives for those able to do so. The state might, for instance, continue to require masks in certain public spaces, he said.
Priority would be given to reopening business spaces where there’s the least potential threat for contamination and the greatest help to the economy, Murphy said. From there, more businesses would be allowed to reopen in stages.
And Murphy said the state will look to build its own strategic supply of ventilators and protective equipment, to be less reliant on federal authorities or philanthropic businesses in a time of crisis.
“I don’t know when we’ll be able to formally and finally start this journey,” Murphy said.
Murphy, in the principles laid out Monday, said New Jersey will need to see a significant dropoff in cases, a doubling of diagnostic testing capacity (which he said could be in place by the end of May), robust contact tracing that could take an “army” of thousands of people to implement, the establishment of “secure and safe places” for those who are infected to isolate. He said that collectively would prompt a gradual, methodical restart of New Jersey’s economy as it better prepares for future public health crises.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Monday 314 more people had been hospitalized, and 480 discharged, continuing the state’s downward trend of hospitalizations seen for more than a week. Intensive care hospitalizations are down 9 percent from last week, and 18 percent fewer people are on ventilators.