As a total of 3.5 million voters in New Jersey returned their ballots before Election Day, state officials said an investigation is underway in regards to the caravan of President Donald Trump supporters that disrupted traffic on the Garden State Parkway Nov. 1.
Gov. Phil Murphy and the head of the New Jersey State Police both labeled the actions of Trump supporters as “dangerous” when they blocked off the Garden State Parkway on Nov. 1. Troopers are looking at videos of the incident for possible motor vehicle violations.
“I just want to be clear that the situation on the Parkway was incredibly irresponsible and dangerous,” said Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Col. Pat Callahan at a press briefing Nov. 2. “There are plenty of ways for people to have their voices heard but when they endanger the lives of those out there traveling our highways, there really is no excuse for it.”
Callahan noted State Police on the scene did not issue any citations to any of the participants as their objective was to get that traffic moving.
“To start issuing citations and summonses out there probably would have hindered getting Parkway flowing north,” he said.
Murphy echoed the sentiments of Callahan, labeling the actions “dangerous and silly,” the latter due to the fact he did not understand what it accomplished.
“But a lot more weight on the dangerous side,” said Murphy. “Folks are welcome to protest…folks have generally done a good job. But they didn’t suck in other folks who were a part of it, put other people in harm’s way. What happened (Sunday) put innocent people not part of it in harm’s way.”
Murphy warned that law enforcement officials are on alert for any similar taking place around polling places on Election Day.
The 2020 election is the first time vote-by-mail has been used in New Jersey, offered to all voters in the Garden State as a way to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
All Time Record
The governor said the vote total is 90% of those who voted in the 2016 Presidential election, when a total of 3.7 million votes were cast. The largest state total was the approximately 3.8 million votes recorded in 2008, when then Sen. Barack Obama received 2.2 million votes compared with Sen. John McCain’s 1.6 million.
“It is safe to say this election will be an all time record,” stated Murphy. “More ballots are arriving and being processed, so the turnout will go up.”
“It just proves that when you open up access to the ballot, and welcome every eligible voter and don’t try to disenfranchise voters, our democracy is made stronger,” said the first term Democratic governor.
Murphy did warn voters not to cast their ballots in the mail, instead he urged the use of a dropbox or handing in ballots to poll workers at voting sites.
The governor reiterated that provisional paper ballots will be available to those who choose to vote that way on Election Day, while calling out those trying to spread disinformation.
“Contrary to what some irresponsible officials have said, you can vote in person at a polling place in your community,” stated Murphy. “To be clear, anyone telling you that you can’t vote in person is just wrong, they are not telling the truth.”
“Your vote will be counted,” he said.
As of Nov. 2, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 240,997 with 1,379 total new cases reported and three new deaths, bringing that total to 14,564. The state listed probable deaths at 1,793, bringing the overall total to 16,357.
For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 141 new cases, Hudson 96 new cases, Bergen 148 new cases, Passaic 102 new cases, Morris 90 new cases, Sussex 12 new cases and Warren 17 new cases.
State officials noted 20 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,915, followed by Bergen at 1,820, Hudson with 1,374, Passaic at 1,121, Morris at 694, Sussex at 161 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 243, Essex has 230, Hudson has 157, Morris at 145, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Oct. 29 was 5.3%. By region, the North has a rate of 5.8%, Central at 4.1 and the South at 6.5%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one.
As for the rate of transmission, it decreased to 1.28 from 1.29 the day before. Officials have continually cited transmission rate and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Officials reported 1,109 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 565 in the North, 270 in the Central and 274 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 212 are in intensive care units and 100 on ventilators, while 103 patients were discharged.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 25,677, followed by Essex at 25,437, Hudson at 23,730, Middlesex at 22,804, Passaic at 21,383, Union at 20,820, Ocean at 17,034, Monmouth at 14,499, Camden at 12,060, Mercer at 9,479, Morris at 9,448, Burlington at 8,794, Somerset at 6,614, Gloucester at 5,713, Atlantic at 5,387, Cumberland at 4,080, Sussex at 1,773, Warren at 1,650, Hunterdon at 1,643, Salem at 1,195 and Cape May at 1,153.
Another 624 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 28 outbreaks involving 122 cases have been reported in 15 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, up from 25 outbreaks involving 111 cases a week previous. For North Jersey, Bergen County has three confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases, Hudson County has one confirmed outbreak with four cases, and Sussex County has one confirmed outbreak with two cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 188 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,705 of the cases, broken down between 2,610 residents and 2,095 staff.
Cumulatively, 827 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 25,679 residents and 14,194 staff, for a total of 39,873 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,226 on Nov. 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,853 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.