Murphy joined by Booker to detail progress in Washington’s COVID-19 efforts

COVID-19 levels continue to reach historic levels both here in New Jersey and across the entire country. The U.S. recently reached the dubious milestone of 100,000 cases per day, and the number continues to rise.

On Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy welcomed recently reelected U.S. Sen. Cory Booker to his coronavirus briefing to speak on the federal government’s progress in controlling this virus.

“This crisis is growing — it is the largest crisis we’ve seen in our lifetimes,” Booker (D-N.J.) said. “It demands a big response. We cannot play it small. The House of Representatives, six months ago, passed the HEROs Act to get this virus under this control. … This is not a partisan issue. We cannot yield to partisan gridlock; we must focus on getting something significant done now.”

Booker echoed a sentiment that Murphy has been preaching since the start of the pandemic: That Washington needs to take more steps to protect New Jerseyans and Americans. Booker specifically sees this as an urgent need.

“We need to act, and we need to do it with a sense of urgency,” Booker said. “We cannot wait, we must do something. It is not a matter right now of ‘Can we?’ but what’s really at stake here is ‘Will we get it done?’”

In New Jersey, Murphy is again offering help, in the form of a 2.4 million-mask giveaway run by the State Police for all students, educators and school staff. In addition, Murphy also announced the opening of Phase II of his administration’s program allowing businesses and nonprofits to receive direct discounts on personal protective equipment purchased through the state Economic Development Authority.

Murphy said the program is unique to the state.

“We are not aware of any other state that is undertaking any program like this,” Murphy said. “New Jersey is creating models for others across this nation and that should be a true point of Jersey pride.”

Other notes from Monday’s COVID-19 briefing:

Health metrics

The numbers continue to reach sobering new milestones as New Jersey officially reported 2,075 additional positive COVID-19 tests Monday. The statewide cumulative total since March is now at 256,653. For comparison, since Thursday, there have been 9,524 additional cases, for an average of 2,381 cases per day.

There were 11 deaths that have been confirmed to be from COVID-related complications. This puts the death total to 14,640, with an additional 1,800 probable deaths. In hospitals yesterday, there were 10 additional deaths that are awaiting lab confirmation.

Other hospital numbers:

  • In hospital: 1,537 (first day since June 9 that hospitalizations top 1,500; 1,313 confirmed cases, 224 under investigation);
  • In ICU: 309 (most since June 17);
  • On ventilators: 94;
  • Rate of transmission: 24;
  • Positivity rate: 52% (from Nov. 5).

Interstate indoor sports prohibited

In addition to tweaking the restrictions on dining in the state, the governor further restricted indoor sports. Murphy announced that, starting Thursday, all interstate games and tourneys for indoor youth sports, up to and including high school, are prohibited.

“We know that all indoor sports create a greater risk of teamwide transmission,” Murphy said. “That risk is even greater when teams from multiple states come together for tournaments or other youth league functions.”

Murphy believes the step is necessary, and may be a sign of more limits to come.

“It simply is not safe for teams to participate in indoor competitions where there is a serious risk of spreading the virus,” he said. “These are the measures we are taking now, and they do not preclude us from taking further action in other areas or placing further restrictions on these in the near future.”

Voting numbers

Murphy also gave an update on New Jersey’s voting efforts in last week’s election. As of Monday, 4.3 million New Jerseyans’ ballots have been counted, with mail-in ballots continuing to be counted and provisional ballot counts beginning Wednesday.

“New Jersey’s voters spoke in historic fashion last Tuesday,” Murphy said. “We shattered the record for most votes ever cast in an election in New Jersey, and that number is only going to increase.

As it stands right now, 83% of the ballots in New Jersey have been counted, so the record-setting number could become even harder to beat in the coming days. Booker also commended New Jersey’s voters for their participation in this historic election.

“Political season is now over. We had an epic election with a level of turnout that we have not seen,” Booker said. “The reality is, we should all recognize that we have, in our state amongst New Jerseyans, we have more in common than divides us. … In this crisis, we have a common conviction; to see our state through. To be who we’ve been in the past. From 9/11 to Superstorm Sandy. To be Jersey Strong.”

Final word

Murphy on working with President-elect Joe Biden:

“We are both anxious to begin working with the president-elect on issues which are not only important to our nation as a whole, but to New Jersey specifically.”