Murphy: N.J. ready for potential armed protest in Trenton during inauguration

New Jersey is preparing for any type of incident potentially surrounding the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden — on both Jan. 17 and on the day of the actual inauguration, Jan. 20, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday.

“We’re very much aware of the discussed protests on Jan. 17, and Jan. 20 as well,” Murphy said. “We’re not going to get into much detail on this, but, needless to say, we are taking nothing for granted.”

In the days since a siege in our nation’s capital last Wednesday, an online flyer has been circulated calling for an “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state capitols” on Jan. 17.

Murphy, speaking at his COVID-19 briefing, said the State Police are ready to handle any potential situation. And he also encouraged any counterprotestors to stay home.

“On Sunday, Jan. 17, even if your heart is 1,000% in the right place, stay home,” he said. “There’s no need to get into the mix.

“We take all of this very, very seriously, and we don’t want to underprepare for this in any way, shape or form.”

Other notes from Monday:

Health metrics

On Monday, New Jersey reported 5,042 new positive cases confirmed via PCR tests. This puts the cumulative total since March at 532,959 cases. Via antigen tests, 540 new cases have been reported, adding to the total of 57,206.

Additionally, Murphy announced the launching of a new dashboard on the state’s COVID website that tracks the amount of vaccination dosages administrated. Currently, 214,433 vaccinations have been given, with 199,293 of those being the first dosage and 14,984 being the second dosage.

51 new deaths have now been confirmed to be from COVID-19 related complications, bringing the cumulative total to 17,873 deaths. Some 2,059 other deaths are classified as “probable,” while 43 patients died in hospitals across the state Sunday and are awaiting lab confirmation.

Other hospital numbers:

  • In hospital: 3,653 (3,402 confirmed, 251 awaiting confirmation);
  • In ICU: 649;
  • On ventilators: 438;
  • Rate of transmission: 09;
  • Positivity rate: 32% (From Jan. 7).

Watson-Coleman tests positive

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.) announced Monday she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Watson Coleman said she took a COVID-19 test following the events of last Wednesday, when she sheltered in place during the uprising at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., with several colleagues who refused to wear masks.

School executive order

Murphy, in an effort to help school districts during this challenging time, said he has signed an executive order that will implement three key policies for the 2020-2021 school year.

The order:

  • Waives the graduation assessment test required for all 12th-grade students;
  • Removes student growth objectives from educator evaluations;
  • Extends the time in which certified teachers can serve as substitute teachers.

“We have to be more flexible and more understanding,” Murphy said. “Each of these steps is being taken because, given the unique challenges our students and educators are facing, we simply have to all face the conclusion that this is not a normal or regular school year.”

Murphy was joined by the acting commissioner of the Department of Education, Angelica Allen McMillan, who said that this order is just one in a line of many moves the Governor’s Office has made to help schools during this bizarre time.

“It is undeniable that implementing brand new instructional models has forced changes in how to effectively use performance data,” she said. “One of my most important priorities to support students and educators in that work has been to extend compassion and flexibility in how our state uses student and educator performance data.”

Final word

Murphy on the death of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick as a result of the Capitol riots:

“He took his duty with the utmost seriousness, but also enjoyed interacting with the visitors who would come from around the world to tour our Capitol with members of congressional staff, regardless of party, who worked there. … Once a New Jerseyan, always a New Jerseyan. Brian will always be a New Jerseyan. He was honored and proud to serve, to uphold the Constitution and to work in the United States Capitol, which, let’s not forget, is the greatest symbol of democracy in the world.”