COVID-19 travel advisory list shrinks substantially for 1st time

    Since June 24, 41 different U.S. states and jurisdictions have been added to New Jersey’s list of 14-day quarantine travel advisory list. However, during Wednesday’s COVID-19 media briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that, for the first time, the list has shrunk substantially.

    Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland and Montana were removed from the list Tuesday, with five other states and territories removed since Aug. 4. Currently, there are 31 remaining states and jurisdictions on the list.

    “Even as we see the metrics improving, and the list shrinking, we continue to ask everyone to practice self-responsibility and good citizenship by complying with our travel advisories,” Murphy explained. “Let’s all remain vigilant and self-aware, and let’s all remember that our No. 1 goal is to slow the spread of this virus and save lives.”

    The states and territories meet the criteria for the list if they have had, over a seven-day rolling average, either more than 10 new cases per 100,000 residents, or a daily positivity greater than 10%. Residents can visit the state’s travel website for the full list.

    Other notes from Wednesday’s briefing:

    Health metrics

    The state reported 288 additional positive test results, bringing the cumulative total to 190,306 cases.

    Another 11 deaths were confirmed to be COVID-19-related, bringing the total confirmed deaths to 14,134. Seven of the deaths are from the past five days. There are an additional nine reported deaths from hospitals Tuesday; however, they have not yet been lab-confirmed.

    “We must continue to do all we are doing to fight this pandemic,” Murphy said. “Even though the numbers of lives lost continues to decline, we are still losing lives to this virus. We cannot give up until that number hits zero — and, even then, we have to make sure it stays there.”

    Other hospital numbers:

    • In hospital: 425 (229 confirmed cases, 196 under investigation);
    • In ICU: 29;
    • On ventilators: 72;
    • Rate of transmission: 80;
    • Positivity rate: 99% (from Aug. 22).

    Gym reopening plan

    Murphy announced he will be signing an executive order that will allow all gyms, health clubs, and indoor amusement facilities in the state to begin reopening Sept. 1. The gyms must open at a maximum of 25% capacity, among other guidelines.

    All gym-goers, staff and trainers will be required to wear masks at all times while in the gym. Fitness classes also will be allowed to continue, with the restriction of one customer per every 200 square feet of classroom space. Outdoor activates will be allowed to continue as long as social distancing is practiced.

    Murphy thanked the gym members across the state for their patience.

    “Many of you have adapted to outdoor workouts and changing your schedules,” Murphy said. “Many others have put their memberships on hold to help us crush the curve. It is also because of your diligence that we can do this.”

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    Portal North Bridge project

    The governor also announced that the Federal Transit Administration has allocated $248 million to the Portal North Bridge project.

    “This is a critical infrastructure project,” Murphy said. “We are pleased that it is moving ahead.”

    The swing-span Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River has been operating since 1910 and the aging mechanical parts often malfunction, causing major bottlenecks and delays. The new, two-track replacement bridge will be known as the Portal North Bridge.

    Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have partnered to design the new bridge. It will rise more that 50 feet over the river and will stretch 2.5 miles along the Northeast Corridor line. The project is estimated to cost $1.8 billion.

    Final word

    Murphy on the future of New Jersey’s pandemic response:

    As we look to the future, it’s not just about crushing the curves, but building our long-term resiliency against a second wave or a future unforeseen pandemic.”