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By JOHN T. WARD
With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, Governor Phil Murphy on Saturday ordered all New Jersey residents to “stay at home.”
He also asked those who might be looking to the shore area as a refuge not to head there.
The state’s coronavirus death toll rose to 16, with five new fatalities since Friday’s tally. The latest to die included a Monmouth County man in his 50s, said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, who appeared with Murphy at a press conference in Newark
The statewide number of known cases rose by 437, to 1,327, while the number in Monmouth County was 92, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Under a new executive order signed by Murphy on Saturday, all residents are directed to stay at home until further notice.
The far-reaching order allows for exceptions, such as shopping for essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work, or engaging in outdoor activities.
The order also requires non-essential retail businesses to shut down as of 9 p.m. Saturday until further notice.
“There’s just no way around it,” Murphy said of the action, which he said is aimed at flattening out the spike in new COVID-19 cases by slowing the transmission of the virus. “It’s no time for business as usual.”
He also asked that people with shore homes and others thinking about heading to the region not do so, because the existing healthcare infrastructure “is not prepared” for it.
State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan said law enforcement has moved beyond the “discretion” stage and “will take action” against people who violate an 8 p.m-to-5 a.m. curfew.
Violators would face disorderly persons summonses, he said.
On Thursday, Murphy announced a plan to open drive-thru test site at PNC Arts Center in Holmdel at 8 a.m. Monday.
In order to be tested, patients must show New Jersey identification and present symptoms associated with the virus: fever, a cough or other respiratory symptoms, and shortness of breath.
The first such site opened Friday at Bergen County Community College where over two days healthcare providers tested some 1,000 visitors who had sat in a long line of waiting vehicles.