Murphy on shutdown: ‘I don’t anticipate it. And I sure as heck don’t want to go that route’

Mike Karras/Gannett (pool) Gov. Phil Murphy at Saturday's COVID-19 briefing.

At a time when other parts of country are ordering state and regional shutdowns, Gov. Phil Murphy reiterated his strong desire to avoid doing so. He admitted, however, that the option is still on the tale.

Murphy, speaking Sunday on Fox News, hinted that a lack of more funds from the federal government is limiting the state’s options at a time when shutting down businesses may do permanent damage.

“I’ll tell you what would really make a difference here: A big federal stimulus, sooner than later, with a lifeline to small businesses, restaurants, folks who are unemployed — that would be a game-changer, not just in their lives and in their prospects, but it gives us more degrees of freedom, in terms of dealing with the virus,” he said.

“So, (a shutdown is) on the table. I don’t anticipate it. And I sure as heck don’t want to go that route. But boy, federal stimulus would give us a lot more ammunition to do a lot more things right now.”

Murphy said he feels fatigue may be partly responsible for the recent surge of cases in the state — and said he worries the holidays and colder weather will exacerbate the problem. Even with a vaccine coming.

Murphy said family holiday gatherings concern him as much as anything.

“I would just beg folks, particularly on holiday season, particularly before we get to the vaccine, don’t let your hair down, keep your guard up,” he said. “And remember, in particular, intergenerational spread from an asymptomatic healthy young person to grandma, grandpa … that is our biggest fear.”

Other news from the weekend:

Perschilli will need to quarantine

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli will spend the next 10 days in isolation after being exposed to COVID-19, the Department of Health said.

Persichilli will voluntarily quarantine until next Tuesday, Dec. 8, because an employee at the DOH tested positive last week.

Health numbers

The state averaged more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases a day over Thanksgiving weekend.

What is unclear is whether the numbers are going down due to a limited amount of testing over the weekend. The four days:

  • Thursday: 4,565;
  • Friday: 4,100;
  • Saturday: 3,924;
  • Sunday: 3,851.

Overall, the state recorded 16,440 new cases over the four-day weekend, bringing the overall total to 334,114.

There were 95 fatalities announced over the break, bringing that total to 15,149. However, with the approximately 1,800 fatalities that are presumed to be COVID-19-related, the state’s total is now approximately 17,000.

Final word

Murphy on self-care:

“The holidays can be hard on mental health — even more so during this pandemic. If you’re feeling down and need to talk:

Crisis text line: Text ‘NJ’ to 741741;

Family helpline: 800-843-5437;

Domestic violence hotline: 800-572-7233;

Mental health hotline: 866-202-4357.”

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