Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Governor Murphy, Congressman Tom Malinowski, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan hold a Coronavirus briefing and announce the road to reopening New Jersey on April 27, 2020 (Edwin J. Torres for Governor’s Office)

By Bradford Mason

Since March 21, New Jerseyans have been under a stay-at-home order but signs are showing that the Garden State is getting back to some form of normalcy the recent opening of state parks and Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent meeting with President Donald Trump and a plan to open the state back up.

Murphy recently announced, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” to restart New Jersey and put the state on the road to recovery. Murphy outlined six key principles and benchmarks to guide the process for restoring New Jersey’s economic health by ensuring public health.

“Our priority is to use science, data, and facts to put New Jersey on the road to recovery. In order to restore economic health, we must first promote public health,” said Governor Murphy. “These key principles and metrics are critical for giving New Jerseyans confidence that we will re-open our state with our public health protocols firmly in place and our health care system prepared. Restarting New Jersey’s economy and returning people to work will be done methodically, strategically, and responsibly.”

Murphy’s stay-at-home Executive Order, which has been in effect since March 21st, will remain in effect in its entirety until further notice. The following six principles and key metrics will guide the process for lifting restrictions and restoring New Jersey’s economic health through public health.

The six principles are a trend of sustained reductions in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, expanded testing, contact tracing, a plan for economic restart and long-term plans on how to combat future.

Murphy signed an executive order creating a commission charged with advising the administration on the timing and preparation for New Jersey’s recovery from the COVID-19 shutdown.

The Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission will be comprised of 21 members, with experience in health care, business, finance, academics, and economics and will be chaired by Princeton Professor and former University President Shirley Tilghman and Ken Frazier, Chief Executive Officer of Merck and Co., Inc.

Black members on the Commission include incoming Rutgers University president Dr. Jonathan Holloway, former Environmental Protection Agency, and former Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Lisa P. Jackson and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co., Inc. Kenneth Frazier.

“With this task force we are bringing together some of the sharpest minds our state and nation have to offer,” said Murphy.  “As I have said from the start, public health creates economic health and these individuals will help us decide when and how to restart the economy to best benefit both.”

The Commission will begin virtual meetings immediately as the administration tackles the work of restarting the state and putting New Jerseyans back to work. Among the Commission’s first tasks will be to advise the governor on the timing of the restart as it aligns with predetermined public health metrics.

“In this challenging and unprecedented time, it is clear that COVID-19 poses serious threats to the health and well-being of people and businesses including those in New Jersey. As a company proudly headquartered in New Jersey, Merck recognizes our responsibility to help the state respond to this pandemic.” said Frazier. I am confident that with input from thoughtful people, including scientific and healthcare experts, we will be able to recommend a responsible path forward to reopen the economy while continuing to keep New Jersey citizens safe. Together, we will win this fight against the viral outbreak.”

Among the major issues being addressed by the Commission will be immediate questions surrounding the safe restart of society. The Commission will also address both short-term and long-term economic issues as well as areas such as public health, workforce issues, and transportation. The Commission will develop strategies for how the State and Federal government can support the economic recovery of the private sector and identify critical needs for federal support and intervention.

Members will advise the administration on potential investments that will speed the recovery and position New Jersey’s economy for long-term success.  Where possible, the Commission will identify opportunities for various sectors to be rebuilt to be well-positioned for both the economy of today and the economy of the future, while promoting equity for disadvantaged communities.

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