Murphy on potentially banning elective surgeries: We’re not remotely there

Gov. Phil Murphy had a great anecdote about why he would be reluctant to ban elective surgery — as he did for two months at the start of the pandemic.

His own experience.

Murphy, who had surgery in March 2020 at a New York hospital to remove what proved to be a cancerous tumor, said that surgery would have been considered elective.

“That’s not the way I saw it,” he said. “So, that’s a pretty draconian step. And we’re not remotely there.”

The question arose following the state of emergency that was announced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul this past weekend — which would give her the ability to ban elective surgery.

Murphy said he would have the power to do so in New Jersey under the emergency powers he maintains.

“If we needed to take that step, we have the authority to do that,” he said.

There’s no indication the state has any such need.

In fact, even though hospitalizations hit 950 this weekend — the highest they have been since Oct. 7 — they are nowhere near where they were a year ago, when there were 2,908 people hospitalized.

Murphy banned all elective surgeries in the state from March 27, 2020, until May 26, 2020, because of — and in anticipation of — the state being overrun by COVID cases.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said her department has regular calls with hospitals in which they determine — together — capacity requirements. She agreed there is no need at this time.

“Right now, we don’t see that happening,” she said.