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'Staggering' 10,138 Coronavirus Deaths In NJ; Surgeries, July 7 Election Next Steps Reopening

Gov. Phil Murphy
Gov. Phil Murphy Photo Credit: NJ Office of the Governor

New Jersey crossed a grim, "staggering" milestone, state officials said.

A total of 10,138 state residents have died from coronavirus, Gov. Phil Murphy said at a Friday afternoon briefing. That total includes 201 deaths confirmed during the past 24 hours, he said.

New Jersey is second only to New York states with total COVID-19 deaths.

"That is a staggering number,''' Murphy said, sharing his condolences with friends and family of all coronavirus victims.

More than half the state's total deaths have occurred among patients, and staff, at NJ's more than 500 nursing homes, veterans homes.and other long-term care facilities, the governor said.

Total positive COVID-19 cases in the state have risen to 143,905, Murphy said, with 1,297 new positive cases.Another 285 people walked (or were taken) into hospitals on Thursday suspecting coronavirus, the governor repeated several times. "We're not out of the woods yet, including back up North,'' he said.

The governor also said that elective surgery and other invasive procedures can resume at hospitals and other health-care facilities on Tuesday May 26.

Separately, the Garden State's July 7 primary election will take place "primarily by mail" with some restrictions, Murphy announced. A limited number of in-person polling places will be open for the primary election, the governor said, including at least one site per municipality.

The state's next election will allow mailed ballots to arrive up to seven days after the election -- or by July 14 -- as long as the completed ballots are postmarked by Tuesday July 7. State law currently counts mail-in ballots that are returned with valid postmarks within 48 hours of Election Day.

New Jersey will.mail all registered Democratic and Republican voters blank ballots -- and pre-paid envelopes for residents to return with completed votes, Murphy said. 

All inactive NJ voters, and registered but unaffiliated voters, will be mailed new applications to request pre-paid ballots by mail, he said.

Elections officials will take normal steps protecting votes. Secure boxes will be available to drop off completed ballots, the governor said.

For in-person voting, at least 50 percent of the normal in-person voting locations will be open for the July 7 primary election. Social distancing will be enforced, Murphy said, and voting electronic touchscreen machines will be sanitized. "Maximizing our Democracy while minimizing (the spread of) illness,'' he said. 

Murphy previously announced Thursday that NJ beaches and lakes with reopen to the public, with social-distancing limits, on Friday May 22 for the Memorial Day weekend.

All construction and non-essential retail business can open at the curb, he said on Wednesday "Our small businesses are the heart of our economy,'' Murphy said. "And their health is critical. 

Check back for COVID-19 updates.

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