Gov. Phil Murphy and Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli do not have any good reports for those wondering when the coronavirus will hit its peak — and when life in New Jersey will start to get better.
The basic answer: Not anytime soon.
Persichilli said she is working on predictive modeling, and agreed with the assessment given out by New York City earlier Wednesday: The peak is still 14-21 days away.
“Our rate is similar in northern New Jersey,” she said. “When we hit the peak in NYC, I think we can expect Hudson, Bergen and Essex counties will follow the trend.”
Persichilli, speaking at the state’s daily coronavirus briefing, did offer one positive sign.
“We expect that all of our mitigation strategies will reduce the impact on our state,” she said.
Murphy offered tough love and realistic talk. He said he wants things to return to normal as much as anyone, but the state is nowhere near that day.
“I’ll be the happiest guy in New Jersey, among the happiest guys in America, if we can begin to gradually open our economy and society back up at some point that’s not too far down the road,” he said. “There will be nothing that gives me more joy.
“But I would just say 2-3 cautionary footnotes. No. 1: We’re calling this as straight as we can; we’re giving you the facts as straight as you see them. We just don’t see that in the near term.”
Murphy said the facts don’t lead to a quick timeline. And that pushing the timeline likely will make things worse.
“We’re making our decisions at every step, as we have since January, on the basics of facts: data, science, medical and health inputs,” he said. “We just don’t see it.
“Secondly, I’m not a health expert, but I think the order of business is pretty clear to us. That we break the back of the coronavirus first, and then we begin to open up the economy and society. That, if we somehow transpose those steps, and we begin to prematurely open things up, I believe we only throw gasoline on the fire of the virus and then we pay a far bigger price down the road.”
Murphy was clear about one thing: He is determined to limit loss of life.
The state total jumped to 62 with 18 more fatalities announced Wednesday.
“To repeat with as much passion and conviction as we can … there is no price that is too high to save any one precious life in this state,” he said. “We will do everything in our power to continue to try to not lose (more than) we have to. That’s who we are as a country, that’s who we are as a state.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to succeed every time out, but, again, there is no price that is beyond what we are prepared to pay to save a life in this state.”