Bergen County had a whopping 80 new presumptive positive coronavirus cases as of late Thursday afternoon, Executive Jim Tedesco said.
Exactly how many had been reported in Bergen County was somewhere between 194 and 205 -- including the death of a 52-year-old Bergenfield man, Tedesco said.
And although it isn't precise, it's still represents at least 27% percent of the 720 reported in all of New Jersey as of Thursday afternoon -- by far the most in the state, he said.
"We're experiencing it on a more severe level and quicker rate," he said during a news conference in Hackensack.
Tedesco also carefully explain that he was just trying to get ahead of the coronavirus curve when he tried closing the malls and other businesses in Bergen, among other steps -- which would have been the most stringent in the state.
He said he later rescinded the order at the request of Gov. Phil Murphy.
"The only closures that can be enforced are those issued by the governor," Tedesco explained at Thursday's news conference.
Tedesco noted that many of the changes he enacted in the executive order were later urged by state and federal officials. Closing dental offices, for example, was later urged by the American Dental Association, he said.
He was also the first official in the state, he said, to close local schools. Days later, Murphy ordered all schools in New Jersey shut.
The county executive said he also called for the shutdown of personal care businesses, which Murphy ordered closed on Thursday.
"While on Monday I said the enactment was under direction of my moral authority, those recommendations were a result of moral and ethical responsibility that I do whatever it takes to promote the health and well-being of everyone in Bergen County," Tedesco said.
"Sometimes, the legal, moral and ethical actions are not in competition with each other and the law," he added. "They simply become the right thing to do."
Still, Tedesco said, anything the county does should be consistent with state laws and guidelines.
The county executive emphasized that he will continue to ask the governor "to do those things that we believe are necessary here in Bergen County to address the overwhelming spike in numbers."
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