Imposes New Restrictions as State Tops 4,000 New COVID-19 Cases
D. Kevin McNeir
Executive Editor, New Jersey Urban News
The morning following Thanksgiving Day, New Jersey health officials announced somber news: the state’s seven-day rolling average had topped 4,200 new COVID-19 cases – an increase of 213 percent as compared to the numbers reported for previous month.
And with many Americans ignoring recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control to cancel travel plans and to avoid gathering in groups during the Thanksgiving holiday, many predict that millions more will be impacted by the still raging health pandemic.
On Sunday, Nov. 29 while speaking to a reporter on Fox News, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he would impose additional statewide restrictions, effective 6 a.m. on Dec. 7.
The changes include: retightening the limit on outdoor gatherings to 25 individuals with exceptions for religious or political activities, funerals, memorial services and wedding ceremonies; and putting all youth and high school indoor sports on a full pause, effective Dec. 5 (6 a.m.) through Jan. 2, 2021, with exceptions for collegiate-level and professional teams.
He reluctantly admitted that he could not rule out a statewide shutdown in the future if infection and death rates continue to soar as recent numbers challenge those not seen since April when Murphy imposed the first statewide shutdown.
On Monday, Nov. 30, Murphy reported that the state had 3,199 new positive cases for a total of 337,304 cases with 15 new confirmed deaths for a total of 15,164 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Murphy also shared his concerns for the state’s hospitals noting through a tweet that on Nov. 29, 23 patients died in New Jersey’s hospitals while state hospitals reported a total patient load of 2,961 individuals – 378 newly-admitted the same day.
The news on Sunday was met by dozens of angry New Jerseyans who attempted to gather outside of Murphy’s home to voice their discontent for the new restrictions but were blocked by police. Protestors succeeded in assembling on the governor’s street but were unable to gather close to his home.
Murphy comments to Fox News reflected the sobering task ahead.
“There’s great news with the development of several vaccines and there’s light at the end of the tunnel but for the next two or three months, we’re in for the fight of our lives,” he said.
He attributed the escalating infection rates to private spreading of the virus.
“To control the increase of transmissions, we earlier closed restaurants at 10 p.m. and limited indoor gathering to no more than 10 people,” he said. “Most people have respected these requests and held small Thanksgiving gatherings. But there’s a lot of COVID-19 fatigue among our citizens. We’re seeing more private transmissions occurring and because it’s cold outside, people are doing the things indoors what they were doing outdoors just a few months ago. This cocktail, added with the holiday season, suggests that we are in for a rough winter.”
As for imposing a second statewide shutdown, Murphy said if things remain unchanged, he may have no other choice.
“I can’t rule out another statewide shutdown but because of its economic impact it would be a last option,” he said. “It has to stay on the table as a possibility even though I have to have to consider making such a decision.”
“What would make a difference for New Jersey is if Congress approved a big stimulus package – sooner not later. It would be a game changer in the lives of and prospects for small businesses, restaurants and folks who are unemployed. It would also give us more degrees of freedom in terms of coping with the virus.”
“Another shutdown has to remain on the table although we don’t want to go that route. But with a federal stimulus package, we would be given a lot more ammunition. I’ve said before, that history will not penalize us for overshooting. Some people have been unemployed since the spring. Many small businesses have closed or face going out of business. And states like ours are struggling to continue to employ as many frontline workers as possible.”
“Let’s not argue on the margins. Let’s make a big statement that’s good for red states, blue states, the Trump Administration, President-elect Biden and his incoming team and America.”
“Even with vaccines hopefully available sometime in December, we’re nowhere near the end zone – not yet. This is an historical path on which we’re now traveling and we have a great distance to go. But the more coordination that occurs between Trump and Biden – the more they talk from the same playbook – the greater will be the public’s confidence in taking the vaccine,” Murphy said.