The downward trend in new hospitalizations is one of the most positive indicators that what New Jersey has been doing has been working, Gov. Phil Murphy said during Monday's coronavirus briefing.
He made himself clear, though: "We are not by any means claiming victory, but we are making progress."
Murphy said that in the coming days, he plans on announcing benchmarks necessary and principals to follow for the state's reopening (hint: More PPE, more testing, direct partnership with the U.S. government).
"Do not think for one minute we’ll be able to flip a switch and return to life as we knew it," he said in announcing the 88,806 cases and 4,377 statewide fatalities. "We will be careful and we will be strategic."
Reopening businesses right now would backfire in two respects, Murphy said.
- New Jersey would see a large spike in cases
- No customers would be in the stores because people are still fearful for their health
"We must secure the public health situation so residents can have confidence, which does't exist right now," Murphy said.
"Personal health creates economic health. That can't be the other way around."
Working as a regional coalition, formed earlier this month with other states, is also crucial in ensuring residents aren't exposed to more COVID-19 cases.
In a call with President Trump Monday morning, Murphy called for direct cash assistance from the federal government. The president told Murphy he hopes that will be part of the next round of stimulus payments.
A direct partnership with the federal government for coronavirus testing, contact tracing and healthcare infrastructure as a general matter is also necessary for New Jersey's reopening, the governor said.
Murphy unapologetically cited the expansion of hospitals, statewide closure of schools and small businesses as some of ways New Jersey has slowed the spread of coronavirus.
"This is reality in our healthcare system," he said, citing the steady decline of new hospitalizations and patients in the ICU and on ventilators.
"As we take steps to ramp up our testing regime, we’ll be in a better place to capture and contain COVID-19."
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