TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey is moving closer to restarting its economy.

During his daily coronavirus pandemic media briefing on Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced two new initiatives that should help speed up the state’s “Road Back” program.

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The governor said he signed an executive order creating the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council, which will work in conjunction with Restart and Recovery Commission. The advisory council will be charged with, among other things, coming up with tactics that will lead to the economic reopening of the state.

“This is a boots on the ground, real world approach to how we move forward,” Murphy said.

In addition, the council will also begin the task of creating a framework for the long-term recovery, Murphy said.

The council will be co-chaired by New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan, and Choose New Jersey President and CEO Jose Lozano.

Murphy said the council will be made up of nine committees: Facilities and Construction, Government, Health Care, Main Street, Manufacturing and Supply Chain, Professional Services, Social Services and Faith, Tourism and Entertainment, and Transportation and Infrastructure, with virtual meetings set to begin next week.

“We understand that we need a smart and granular approach to recovery. Reopening the restaurants and boardwalk shops down on the Shore is far different, for example, than restarting retail in downtown Morristown, Lambertville or Collingswood, or anywhere else,” Murphy said. “The advisory council will not only help us gather the local intelligence we need to get our economy running again, but it’s members will help us create a framework for coping with our new long-term economic realities.”


Murphy also said that community testing sites at Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center will start providing tests to certain asymptomatic residents, with health care workers, first responders, personnel in congregant living settings, and residents who have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 being the priority.

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“This expansion is a step forward for our testing program,” Murphy said, adding he’d have more on the contact tracing program early next week.

There are currently 122 testing sites in New Jersey. To find out how you can be tested, the governor said to first check with your primary health care physician and then go to to find the site near you.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

As for the current numbers, there were 1,985 new positive cases on Thursday, upping the state-wide total to 135,454. Murphy said the daily count of new cases is leveling, while admissions to Intensive Care Units and ventilator usage continues to drop.

There were 334 new hospitalizations on Thursday, a slight decline from the day before, but also 464 discharges.

“Only we have the power to push these numbers down further and we’ve done an extraordinary job,” Murphy said. “Today, we need to keep working with those two things in mind — public health creates economic health, and the data determines dates. Remember this as you put on your face covering to enter the supermarket or when you keep a social distance from others when you’re out for a walk in your neighborhood. These practices are working and you’ve done an extraordinary job, folks. Let’s keep it up. Public health creates economic health, and the data determines dates.”

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The situation at long-term care facilities continues to be alarming. The reported number of deaths continues to rise daily, with 4,691 total across the state. Overall, New Jersey is now reporting 8,952 deaths, up 162 from Thursday.

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That said, Murphy is confident the measures the state has been taking of late “will save lives.”