Gov. Phil Murphy had a strong message for New Jersey residents complaining about following the mask protocols in the state.
“You know what’s more uncomfortable and annoying? When you die,” Murphy said curtly.
The statement came at a press briefing Nov. 12 as the second wave of COVID-19 continues to force new restrictions Murphy characterized as “surgical” in the Garden State.
Two actions were taken by the state Thursday: Murphy said he would sign an executive order giving municipalities and counties the authority to regulate the operating hours of non-essential businesses after 8:00 PM. Earlier in the day, New Jersey signed a compact with six other states suspending interstate competitions for public and private schools and youth hockey effective Nov. 14 through the end of the calendar year.
Murphy said the actions are part of a “surgical approach (that) empowers local officials to take actions to prevent localized hotspots from becoming COVID wildfires.”
“We can have a more effective and efficient means of attacking COVID-19 in the second wave. What we are facing today is different from what we faced in the Spring,” said the first-term Democratic governor, believing knowledge about treatments and increased testing capabilities gives the state a better chance to contain the spread over the next six months.
The order does forbid municipal or county actions that are stricter than current statewide guidelines, including those for essential businesses, full business closures, or restrictions on gatherings and capacity.
But officials warned unless the protocols put in place to lower the spread are followed—wearing face masks, social distancing, hand washing, getting tested, placing yourself in quarantine—all options to further shutdown the state would have to be considered.
“COVID is not done with us…we are in for a long dark winter until we have a vaccine,” said Murphy. “Our numbers are stark and sobering, but they shouldn’t deter us from continuing to fight against this virus and our pandemic fatigue.”
The governor became animated in rejecting the premise that his answer about people dying who do not wear masks would do more harm than good when trying to pursue people to wear them properly.
“It’s a fact, it’s not flip,” said Murphy. “Folks who have politicized wearing a mask are putting either their life or others around them at risk, that is a fact. And folks need to hear that.”
The governor further admonished those using the issue to score political points as cases and deaths continue to rise across the state.
Losing Loved Ones
“The inconvenience associated with not wearing a mask or not wearing it properly…I speak to families almost every single day, and some days multiple families who lost a loved one. I would love for someone who is jerking around by not wearing a mask and making it political to speak to some of the families that I speak to,” said Murphy.
As a result of the increased cases, the governor announced that he would go back to holding a briefing three days a week—Monday, Wednesday and Friday—for the foreseeable future.
As of Nov. 12, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 266,986 with 3,517 total new cases reported and 18 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,694. The state listed probable deaths at 1,801, bringing the overall total to 16,495.
For North Jersey counties, Essex had a total of 410 new cases, Bergen 395 new cases, Passaic 339 new cases, Hudson 285 new cases, Morris 117 new cases, Warren 29 new cases and Sussex 24 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 1,932, followed by Bergen at 1,832, Hudson with 1,382, Passaic at 1,136, Morris at 701, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 158.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 246, Essex has 230, Hudson has 158, Morris at 146, Passaic at 141, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 8 was 12.2%. By region, the North has a rate of 13.0%, Central at 12.0 and the South at 10.8%. 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 increased to 1.30 from 1.27 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 1,827 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 901 in the North, 458 in the Central and 468 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 360 are in intensive care units and 117 on ventilators, while 223 patients were discharged.
Essex Tops County Count
Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 28,872, followed by Bergen at 28,085, Hudson at 25,949, Middlesex at 24,831, Passaic at 23,727, Union at 23,151, Ocean at 18,080, Monmouth at 15,964, Camden at 13,913, Morris at 10,679, Mercer at 10,497, Burlington at 9,858, Somerset at 7,290, Gloucester at 6,608, Atlantic at 6,210, Cumberland at 4,347, Sussex at 1,963, Warren at 1,905, Hunterdon at 1,896, Salem at 1,284 and Cape May at 1,262.
Another 642 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 51 outbreaks involving 192 cases have been reported in 18 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with 15 new outbreaks involving 46 cases recorded. For North Jersey, Bergen County has six confirmed outbreaks with 17 cases, Sussex County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases, Warren County has three confirmed outbreaks with seven cases, Hudson County has two confirmed outbreaks with eight cases and Passaic County has one confirmed outbreak with nine cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 216 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,552 of the cases, broken down between 2,408 residents and 2,144 staff.
Cumulatively, 880 long-term care facilities reported cases infecting 25,920 residents and 14,536 staff, for a total of 40,456 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,247 on Nov. 12. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,875 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.