HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Three people in New Jersey have died from the coronavirus.
The latest was a man in his 90s who was being treated at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Gov. Phil Murphy held a media briefing on the latest COVID-19 measures on Tuesday afternoon (click below):
Gov. Phil Murphy made it clear that the state’s new social distancing and curfew directives must be followed if the outbreak is to be stopped. He said there are 89 new positive cases, bringing the state’s total to 267, including the three confirmed deaths.
In Paterson, a mother, father and their 5-year-old child all tested positive. All three are isolated at home.
“Our team from the health department is actively monitoring the situation. The entire family is recuperating,” Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.
“We know this is a time of anxiety. We get that. The number of cases will almost certainly rise over the coming days and I would bet weeks. We understand that anxiety. We get it. We respect it,” Murphy said. “We’re doing everything we can over here to ‘flatten that curve,’ to keep our distance, to please, God, stay at home whenever you can. Work from home. Certainly don’t go out at night. Find ways to keep your distance, and the extent to which we can do that we can take the pressure off the health care system, lessen the likelihood of needing surge capacity, and, most importantly, save lives in the process.”
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The governor emphasized the 8 p.m. state-wide curfew, adding that effective Tuesday evening at that time all indoor shopping malls, amusement parks and amusement centers across the state will be closed. Restaurants in the malls may remain open under current directives — take-out and delivery only. All other non-essential businesses outside malls can remain open if they abide by social distancing regulations.
New Jerseyans MUST practice social distancing.
I urge everyone to take this seriously. We need everyone to STAY HOME.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 16, 2020
“I want to thank everyone who has taken to heart the need to stay in after 8 p.m.,” Murphy said. “We need all New Jerseyans to follow your lead. Binge watch something. Play a game with your family. Call family members or neighbors to make sure they are doing okay, particularly the elderly among us. But please, just stay in after 8 p.m.
“We urge you to do this for, among other reasons, so that essential personnel can attend to their jobs. For example, we must allow truck drivers to be able to make deliveries for restocking our grocery stores or getting supplies to our front-line health care responders. Truckers are essential workers in our response and we tip our caps to them,” he added.
Tuesday evening, there was no mad dash at the malls, only a few wandering around, mostly in masks.
“It’s like the world’s ending. It’s like, everything is closing, people are barely outside,” shopper Christopher Rodriguez said.
Workers spent the final hours at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, packing up boxes.
Elvin Soto was hoping to sell one last ice cream cone before 8 p.m. when his business was forced to close.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking because, you know, people have bills to pay and just being out of work for so long, like… It’s just, how are you gonna take care of the family?” Soto said.
“What’s your plan, Elvin?” CBS2’s Jessica Layton asked.
“I have no idea to be honest. I just hope we can get everything situated soon and… yeah. Day by day,” Soto said.
Murphy said state government will continue to support local directives, but will when necessary override them, depending on the situation.
Murphy said he has been in constant contact with the governors of New York and Connecticut and, like them, has requested help from the federal government to set up temporary hospitals.
We have among the nation’s strongest paid sick leave and expanded paid family leave laws.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 17, 2020
As for the strain on the local economy the directives have caused, the governor said there is help available for residents who now find themselves out of work or have had their hours reduced. Full or partial insurance benefits will likely be available for as long as the health emergency continues.
“I urge every resident whose job has been directly impacted to visit nj.gov/labor. A prominent link is on the site’s landing page,” Murphy said.
He said relief for small business owners should be coming soon. The state is working with the federal government to apply financial relief quickly, as early as Tuesday. Murphy said he is asking banks to work with small businesses on securing loans.
“We implore every business owner to every degree possible to continue paying workers,” Murphy said.
CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text 692692 | Westchester Testing Call 1(888)-364-3065 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Case Tracker | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211
The governor urged residents to be wary of scammers. If contacted by one, please report it to 973-504-6240 or njconsumeraffairs.gov.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli broke down the new number of confirmed cases by county: Bergen County has 23, Essex has 11, Monmouth has eight, and Union has seven. The state’s remaining counties reported six or less.
Persichilli said infected residents range in age from 5 to 93, with a median age of 52, and slightly more than 50% are male. She said overall risk of infection remains low, “when you follow social distancing, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.”
The health commissioner said the state is working to open eight acute care hospitals that had been closed in recent years and is moving forward expanding testing, adding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is working to open testing sites in Bergen and Monmouth counties.
Murphy took a moment to address young people who may not be acting responsibly, emphasizing that though they may not show symptoms they can easily spread the virus to loved ones and friends.
“It’s no time to panic, but equally it’s no time for business as usual,” Murphy said. “Believe. Trust us. It’s relevant for all 9 million of us.”
Murphy has activated the National Guard to help the state with its coronavirus response as even more restrictions were going into effect Tuesday. CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis spoke to residents trying to adapt to the changes in Hoboken.
Washington Street was practically a ghost town on Tuesday. Restaurant seating areas were off limits and you can’t go very far without being reminded of the virus outbreak. It’s not the Hoboken Kyle Kokawski knows and loves.
“It’s meant for you to go out, eat and go to the bars and all, so if we can’t enjoy it, it’s gonna hurt. But, you know, if we all stay inside and take this time to quarantine it will be better in a couple of weeks. Hopefully, we can enjoy it again,” Kokawski said.
That’s the goal behind the city’s move to put new restrictions in place, including a curfew, with the exception of those who have emergencies or are required to work.
“No one has seen this before, so you have to take actions like that,” resident Tayla Manson said.
Manson said she left her house after the curfew was lifted Tuesday to go to work in New York City. She’s on an events team and events are dwindling.
“Through August we’re seeing tons of cancelations, so the past couple of days have been crucial to be at work,” Manson said. “It’s crazy. I just hope, you know, in time that it really starts to fizzle out, but it’s affecting so many people.”
It’s not just Hoboken — there are state-wide regulations which match those in New York and Connecticut. Schools, movie theaters, gyms, and casinos are closed, and restaurants and bars are now take-out or delivery only. It’s all part of a push to keep residents home.
Residents by and large agree with the directive.
“I think 8 p.m. is pretty early, but if it’s for the good of everybody,” Jersey City resident Lauren Rios said. “It’s unfortunate, right, but we’ll get through it.”
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco took the restrictions even further, signing an executive order banning all non-essential business indefinitely, establishing an 8 p.m. curfew countywide, and prohibiting groups of five or more people from congregating in public. The mandate was supposed to be in place Tuesday, but was postponed until Saturday morning.
“You can question my actions, but don’t question by reasons, because these actions are necessary. This is about preventing spread,” Tedesco said Monday night.
Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes is worried about the county executive’s rule that puts a 50-person limit in the supermarkets.
“You’re going to have elderly people waiting outside 4-5 hours and it’s just not efficient use, even with social distancing,” Wildes said. “These are biblical times. We are facing something that a generation before us hasn’t faced and our children are watching us. We have to make sure that we preserve life.”
It’s also about identifying positive cases. With that, officials are working to set up the state’s first drive-thru testing center at Bergen Community College, which is expected to open by the end of the week.