Murphy, on 1-year anniversary of N.J.’s first COVID case, is stunned by responses of other states

Thursday will mark the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the state.

It’s an anniversary that Gov. Phil Murphy said he cannot fully comprehend.

“At that time, I don’t think any of us sitting here today were necessarily surprised that coronavirus had found its way to New Jersey,” Murphy said. “We’ve always leveled with you, even when the news was not promising. We remained optimistic, even when we knew we were going through some very dark times.

“Moreover, we’ve tried to hold our New Jersey family together with facts, faith and decisions guided solely by the science.”

For those reasons, Murphy said he was stunned by the recent responses of Texas and Mississippi to lift all COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’m stunned,” he said. “I don’t know what these states are looking at. It just takes my breath away.

“No capacity restrictions and no masking, particularly indoors. I think I could get it if you were socially distanced, if the states in warmer climates lifted potentially outdoor masking, but to lift it completely indoors? It just takes my breath away.”

The no-mask allowance was particularly surprising, Murphy said.

“I just can’t fathom it,” he said. “I just can’t conceive of lifting a mask mandate inside. It is inconceivable.

“Maybe it’s politics, I just don’t know.”

Murphy’s greatest fear is a return to the overcrowded hospitals. He called back specifically to a day in mid-April 2020, when hospitalizations hit a record high 8,270 in one day — today, that same number sits at 1,921.

He praised the residents of New Jersey for their efforts.

“To every New Jerseyan who has joined our fight over the past year, I say on our behalf — thank you,” Murphy said. “Thank you for being models for your families and communities. Thank you for showing that when we fight COVID together, we can beat it together. Thank you for being real patriots by simply doing what needs to be done in these unprecedented circumstances.”

Other notes from Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing:

Health metrics

On Wednesday, New Jersey is reporting 2,957 new positive cases from PCR testing and 900 new cases from antigen testing. That puts the total confirmed cases since last March at 710,046 cases confirmed via PCR and 89,430 confirmed via antigen testing.

There were 257 COVID patients discharged from hospitals around the state Tuesday, while 266 others were newly admitted. On the same day, there were 20 in-hospital deaths that are still awaiting lab confirmation.

In total, 21,052 New Jerseyans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Included in that total are 63 deaths that have been newly confirmed to be from COVID-related complications. Additionally, there are 2,397 deaths currently classified as “probable.”

Other hospital numbers:

  • In hospital: 1,921;
  • In ICU: 403;
  • On ventilators: 243;
  • Rate of transmission: 99;
  • Positivity rate: 70% (from Feb. 28)