EDISON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The number of deaths related to coronavirus in New Jersey continues to climb.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday the total had grown to 1,504, up 275 from the day before.
There have been 3,088 new positive cases, for a total of 47,437 in the state.
Murphy said the data suggests that New Jersey may have to tighten social restrictions further.
“We’re not on any plateau,” Murphy said. “We need to continue to be absolutely vigilant, and if anything tighten as opposed to loosen. And I don’t say that with any amount of joy. It brings me no joy to say that.”
In fact, Wednesday, we found out the governor’s own chief counsel, Matt Platkin, tested positive.
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“Even though the curve may begin to look like this, it’s still going up. I hate to say it, it’s still going up. And secondly, while it may be flattening, beginning the flatten, the fatalities are still going up,” he added.
“The early data points are that we will be seeing a similar reality in New Jersey as we’re seeing nationally and elsewhere, that communities of color may be paying a higher price,” Murphy said.
Murphy said that despite it being the first night of Passover, communities could not and should not gather for celebrations.
“We have got to stay home and stay away from each other. It brings me no joy in saying that during Passover, Easter, Ramadan or any other moment. But that is the only way out of this. We have got to stay home,” Murphy said.
Murphy announced a number of executive orders to improve social distancing efforts, including:
- All grocery stores have to limit the number of customers in their stores to 50% of their capacity. In addition, all store workers and customers must wear face coverings, and stores must provide special shopping hours for high-risk customers, and erect barriers between cashiers and customers where practical.
- All non-essential construction in the state is being shut down as of Friday
- New Jersey’s primary date is being moved from June 2 to July 7.
- Weight limit on trucks carrying COVID-19 relief has been raised
“We are not running out of food or other items, period,” Murphy said. “We are taking this step to protect both customers and essential workers.”
The executive orders came on the same day we learned the retired president of five Shop Rite stores in South Jersey died of the coronavirus. The family of Steve Ravitz wrote: “He battled for 13 days in the hospital. Please please take precautions … Dad would not want anyone else to suffer.”
Murphy said reopening the state would take time at the tail end of the crisis to prevent a “boomerang” of the virus. He called on New Jersey residents to remain patient during the weeks ahead.
Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state was rolling out a new plan for long-term care facilities. There are 231 that have reported at least one coronavirus case.
The New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center has been outfitted with 500 beds for non-coronavirus patients. It’s slated to start accepting people Saturday.
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All three facilities will treat non-COVID patients, in order to free up beds in other hospitals.
“To be able to be here with 500 [beds] where it sounds like you’re going to start taking customers on Saturday, with 250 already beginning to populate in Secaucus, then next week God willing Atlantic City with another 250 — these are huge quantum steps, I think is a fair way to put it for us in terms of capacity,” Murphy said Wednesday. “So I thank everybody who’s associated with this, it means more than you know.”
“This is what it should be. This is the best of local, state and federal officials working together seamlessly to beat this incredible foe,” said Booker. “I’m really proud of what they’ve created here and grateful for the hard work that’s gone into setting this up in anticipation, unfortunately, of the challenges we face.”
Before departing, the governor shared a reminder for residents: “Stay home.”
“Stay inside, stay away from anybody else. Let this thing get through the system, and then we’ll be able to slowly but surely and responsibly get back on our feet,” he said.
On Tuesday, Murphy shut down state and county parks and said all schools will remain closed indefinitely. The attorney general also warned anyone caught ignoring social distancing will face criminal action.