TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The public health emergency in New Jersey has been extended another month, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday. However, he stressed it’s not because the coronavirus pandemic has worsened.
The governor explained that the overall hospitalization numbers and deaths continue to tick downward across the state, but the concern continues to be at long-term care facilities, which are still dealing with many of the same issues that have plagued them since the outbreak first started.READ MORE: Caught On Video: Carmine's Hostess Attacked After Asking Tourists For Proof Of Vaccination
Murphy said the extension of the emergency declaration does not mean the restarting of the economy will be delayed, though no hard date for when business can open has been announced.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that this action does no mean that we are seeing anything in the data which would pause our path forward,” Murphy said. “And it shouldn’t be interpreted by anyone to mean we are going to be tightening any of the restrictions currently in place. This insures that we will continue on our current war footing for the coming month.
“The planning to expand our testing capabilities to implement a robust system for contract tracing and securing spaces for those who will test positive in the future to safely isolate continues. The work of the Restart and Recovery Commission to responsibly get our economy working again continues,” he added.
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Murphy said he wants the state to get a better handle on certain hot spots while at the same time continue to make sure that health care workers get the personal protection equipment (PPE) they desperately need.
The governor cited two articles in The Wall Street Journal that explained the difficulties elected officials all across the country face when it comes to reopening.
“We are working morning, noon and night, but I will also say we don’t have all the answers,” Murphy said. “No one does.”
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Reading from the articles, he said health officials simply don’t know enough at this point about COVID-19, adding models that many refer to and tout are based on assessments and estimates and they often shift due to behavior and with the acquisition of more knowledge.
Absent all the answers, Murphy reiterated his mantra about being responsible, saying staying at home as much as possible, and practicing personal hygiene remains the public’s best course of action to avoid infection at this time.
“Remember, in the absence of either a vaccine or proven therapeutics for COVID-19 specifically, our only cure is social distancing, covering our faces, washing our hands with soap, etc.,” Murphy said.
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Murphy said there were 1,513 new positive cases on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 131,890 overall. Of those, more than 90,000 have resolved. Currently, 5,221 patients are being treated at hospitals throughout the state. There were 439 new hospitalizations, but also 435 discharges.
“We continue to see the daily count leveling, even as more testing sites continue to come on-line. The rate of positivity among those tested continues to decrease as well. The spread is slowing,” Murphy said, later adding, “We’re seeing good signs without question, but we cannot load ourselves into thinking that all is well. So let’s keep focused on pushing these numbers down further.”
As for the ongoing problems in long-term care facilities, Murphy said, “We continue to directly and aggressively confront the challenges … as the number of positive cases and deaths connected to these facilities continues to grow.
“We know the long-term care issue has been among the biggest challenges, both here in New Jersey and nationally. If not, frankly, the biggest, and this will be an inclusive approach to solve this challenge that will make us a national model, God willing,” Murphy added.
The governor announced new changes to help the facilities, where the number of deaths sits at 4,300. He is bringing in Cindy Mann, who worked in the Obama administration, and Carol Raphael, who served as president and CEO of Visiting Nurse Service of New York, to lead a team that will combat the problem and provide support to facilities, CBS2’s Cory James reported.
The total number of deaths related to coronavirus in New Jersey stands at 8,549, including 308 on Tuesday.MORE NEWS: Parents, Students Disappointed By Sudden Closure Of Elementary School In Westchester County Due To Lack Of Safety Inspections
Murphy said there are currently 122 testing sites in the state, including 31 run publicly. For information on how to get tested, please go to covid19.nj.gov/testing. If you would prefer to use a private testing site, please get in touch with your doctor.