Murphy (as of today) said he thinks there will be high school sports this fall

    Gov. Phil Murphy said he feels there will still be high school sports this fall.

    Murphy was quick to say his feelings are as of today — saying this is something that clearly is subject to reassessment — but said sports can meet the criteria for a healthy outdoor activity.

    Murphy said the ability to limit attendance, and to require fans be socially distant and with face coverings, combined with the fact there is not extensive travel, makes it a possibility.

    “For all those reasons, as I sit there today, I think it’s more likely than not that we have fall high school sports,” he said.

    Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing, pointed to the “Last Dance” high school baseball tournament that’s currently underway as evidence that this can work.

    Murphy, however, noted that fall sports are all held outdoors. Winter sports — such as basketball, wrestling, hockey and gymnastics — are going to be a different challenge, he said.

    “I think it’s going to be harder when we turn to the winter,” he said. “That’s going to be a lift, and we all have to accept that.”

    Other notes from the briefing:

    Health metrics

    There were 489 additional COVID-19 cases, raising the state total to 180,766. Murphy notes that this means there have been nearly 2,000 in past four days.

    And there were 18 more fatalities, pushing the state total to 13,923 — plus 1,875 probable fatalities

    The hospital numbers, as of 10 p.m. Tuesday:

    • In the hospital: 761 (361 are known cases; 400 are people under investigation);
    • In ICU: 116;
    • On ventilators: 49;
    • Rate of transmission: 1.14;
    • Positivity rate: 2.42% (from July 25).

    Unemployment office reopening

    Murphy said he sees no benefit to reopening unemployment offices, saying he feels it would not help matters.

    “Unlike other agencies — the MVC is a good example of this — there really is no difference in what an unemployment claimant can do in person versus over the phone. So, in terms of where our resources and manpower are, opening in person, actually, we believe would lead to less, not more claimants being served. That’s why we’ve taken that decision.”

    The final word

    Murphy spoke strongly against indoor gatherings.

    We went into this with our eyes open, that when you don’t allow indoor bars — which we know has been a huge source of infection in many states across the country and countries around the world — to some extent, we knew that some of this stuff would go underground.

    “The rate and just pure volume of that going underground is completely unacceptable right now. I can’t speak for law enforcement … but that’s not something we’re going to allow to continue to be out there.”

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