Gov. Phil Murphy is never afraid to challenge President Donald Trump — or have the state file suits against some of his actions.
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, however, he has been more than complimentary — a tactic other Democratic governors have not used. On Thursday, that may have paid off in a big way.
Murphy went to Washington, D.C., to meet with Trump and returned home to New Jersey later that day with 550,000 new COVID-19 test kits and 750,000 swabs from the federal government.
Murphy said the test kits could help the state double its testing capacity by the end of May — to 20,000 tests a day, which is one of Murphy’s key principles for reopening the state. Murphy also said it proves it is possible to put people over politics.
“At every stage, this has been a team effort,” he said. “There’s no reason for that to stop now, and especially as we approach the time when we’re going to need our partners the most.”
The meeting also was beneficial for the state’s long-term care facilities.
Murphy said the state also has secured a commitment that 358 nursing homes in New Jersey will be receiving a direct shipment of PPE from the federal government, including roughly 220,000 masks, 19,000 goggles, 200,000 gowns and 1 million gloves.
“It’s no secret that the president and I disagree on many things,” Murphy said. “But that’s not going to stop me from doing everything I can to make sure that New Jersey has all the resources we need to move forward. My focus is on getting things done — in this unprecedented pandemic — for all 9 million people who call our state home.”
Murphy said those needs also include direct cash payments from the federal government — saying New Jersey COVID-19 losses/needs could be as much as $30 billion.
On that issue, the president wasn’t as giving.
“That’s a tough question, because you’re talking about the states and whether you call it a bailout or a lot of money,” Trump said — without indicating how he might act.