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VIRUS UPDATE: MURPHY PICKS ‘RESTART’ TEAM

murphy-042820-500x313-5554871Governor Phil Murphy unveiling his Restart and Recovery Commission Tuesday. (YouTube screengrab. Click to enlarge.)

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

hot-topic_03-220x138-2130637Governor Phil Murphy spent much of his daily briefing on the COVID-19 crisis Tuesday talking about ways to emerge from it and restart the New Jersey economy.

Still, he steered clear of setting dates, and appointed a 21-member commission to advise him on the matter.

At his daily briefing on the pandemic, Murphy reported another 402 deaths associated with COVID-19. As expected, the figure included an unspecified number of deaths that occurred over the weekend, and brought the state’s total to 6,442.

According to the state health department’s COVID-19 online database, 3 more Monmouth County residents died from the disease, for a total of 305.

Separately, the state reported 2 additional deaths at Hackensack Meridian at Red Bank nursing facility (formerly Chapin Hill, on Chapin Avenue), bringing the total to 8.

At the same time, Monmouth County’s total number of patients testing positive for the illness rose by just 28, the smallest increase since mid-March.

Here are the latest statewide COVID-19 figures:

Deaths since March 10: 6,442, up 179 from Monday

Positive tests: 113,856, up 2,887

Patients in hospitals: 6,476, up 69

Patients in intensive/critical care: 1,809, up 8

Patients on ventilators: 1,268, down 41

Patients discharged in preceding 24 hours: 419, down 61

Pressed by reporters on whether he might reopen state parks and golf courses, or allow clothing and craft stores to operate under the same restrictions as food stores and other businesses considered essential, Murphy said his administration “is looking at” the issue.

Still, he noted that data shows the heavy impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare systems migrating from north to south through the state, and said state residents must continue to socially-distance from one another to halt it.

“We have not arrived in any end zone,” Murphy said. “I can’t attach a date to any of it.”

• Murphy named the members of the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission to advise him on an eventual reopening of the state’s economy. Co-chaired by Merck CEO Ken Frazier and Princeton University president emerita Shirley Tilghman, the commission also includes former Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke.

The commission’s “opening remit is a blank sheet of paper,” Murphy said. “We’ll go from there.”

• Murphy signed an executive order allowing municipalities to extend, to June 1, the grace period for quarterly property tax payments due May 1.

Under existing law, towns may only allow for a grace period of up to 10 days after the property tax deadline without interest or penalty.

• Asked to comment on protestors equating his March 21 lockdown order and other restrictions on social and economic activity with fascism, Murphy said, “this notion of fascism is ridiculous. We’re trying to save lives.”

UPDATE: Monmouth County officials reported 5,875 positive cases in the county Tuesday evening, a one-day increase of 77. Here’s the latest by-town breakdown:

  • Aberdeen: 180
  • Allenhurst: 2
  • Allentown: 6
  • Asbury Park: 127
  • Atlantic Highlands: 21
  • Avon-by-the-Sea: 10
  • Belmar: 14
  • Bradley Beach: 29
  • Brielle: 23
  • Colts Neck: 60
  • Deal: 23
  • Eatontown: 178
  • Englishtown: 29
  • Fair Haven: 21, unchanged from Monday (see note below)
  • Farmingdale: 13
  • Freehold Borough: 277
  • Freehold Township: 518
  • Hazlet: 239
  • Highlands: 22
  • Holmdel: 182
  • Howell: 481
  • Interlaken: 1
  • Keansburg: 107
  • Keyport: 68
  • Lake Como: 14
  • Little Silver: 34, up 1
  • Loch Arbour: 1
  • Long Branch: 356
  • Manalapan: 402
  • Manasquan: 28
  • Marlboro: 376
  • Matawan: 139
  • Middletown: 419
  • Millstone: 68
  • Monmouth Beach: 17
  • Neptune City: 39
  • Neptune Township: 326
  • Ocean: 220
  • Oceanport: 51
  • Red Bank: 134, up 2
  • Roosevelt: 4
  • Rumson: 30
  • Sea Bright: 9
  • Sea Girt: 11
  • Shrewsbury Borough: 41
  • Shrewsbury Township: 7
  • Spring Lake: 12
  • Spring Lake Heights: 16
  • Tinton Falls: 146
  • Union Beach: 37
  • Upper Freehold: 38
  • Wall: 210
  • West Long Branch: 57
  • Unknown: 2

On Tuesday, Fair Haven police Chief Joe McGovern, who heads the borough’s Office of Emergency Management, reported 14 “active cases” in town. In the borough’s newsletter, McGovern said the town had experienced 22 positive cases over the past six weeks, with 8 patients now recovered.

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