When it comes to handshakes, hugs and high-fives, Murphy thinks social rules have forever changed

Gov. Phil Murphy offered his first extended thoughts about what life may be like in the future from a social distancing aspect during his daily briefing Wednesday.

Simply put, Murphy said he can’t foresee any scenario where things return to the way they were.

“The notion that were going to back to some sort of, let’s just turn the clock back to three months ago … I don’t see it,” he said.

Murphy didn’t offer any specific rationale for his views — other than to reference a Harvard University study that indicated the county may have social distancing protocols in place until 2022.

“The big handshake, kiss on cheek, hug, high-five: I think that’s postponed for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Murphy said restaurants figure to be different — suggesting everything from tables need to be certain distances apart to employees wearing masks and gloves.

“People talk about a new normal,” he said. “And I think that’s a reality.”

Murphy emphasized that he hopes mass-scale testing — such as the saliva test Rutgers University is working on — could be a key to opening up society more easily. He said the wait for a vaccine could be a long one.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone who lives in the field who thinks a vaccine, sooner than a year or a year and a half, is realistic,” he said.

Here is more from his daily briefing:

The numbers

New Jersey surpassed two more milestones Wednesday — as positive cases topped 70,000 and fatalities topped 3,000.

More specifically, there were 2,625 new cases, bringing that total to 71,030. And there were 351 COVID-19 related fatalities, bringing the state total to 3,156.

Murphy noted that both numbers — but, in particular, the fatalities — should not necessarily be viewed as a 24-hour snapshot due to lags in reporting.

The hospital numbers were more precise. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday night, there were:

  • 8,270 people in hospitals;
  • 1,980 people in critical/intensive care;
  • 1,705 people on ventilators;
  • And 709 people discharged.


Murphy said he’s excited about the possibilities of the Rutgers saliva test — and proud of the fact that it came from New Jersey.

“We have been in regular contact for some time with both Dr. Brian Strom of Rutgers University and the White House, who notified us this weekend of the FDA approval for the Rutgers-developed saliva test and the potential for this new system to be put into widespread use to help us meet our testing needs,” he said.

Murphy said the test not only promises the ability to do more wide-scale testing — it can do tests without the same high number of PPEs required.

“It is incredibly gratifying to see New Jersey’s own flagship university stepping up to help fill the testing gap,” he said.

There are now roughly two dozen publicly accessible testing sites across the state that are listed at covid19.nj.gov/testing. Additionally, there are roughly 40 more privately run sites that a primary care practitioner can send people to for testing, he said.

Read more from ROI-NJ on coronavirus: