Gov. Phil Murphy: Time for President Trump to Loop in Biden’s COVID-19 Transition Team

Coming off a recent White House coronavirus meeting, Gov. Phil Murphy believes the exclusion of President-elect Joe Biden’s team must come to an end as the numbers in New Jersey continue to worsen.

“There is no way to sugar-coat any of these statistics,” said Murphy at a press briefing Nov. 18. “They are not good and trending worse.”

But while the governor said hopeful news from Pfizer and federal officials—including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—on a vaccine being available by the end of the calendar, Murphy believes the time has come for President Donald Trump to loop in Biden representatives.

Putting Lives at Risk

“The fact that the Biden…transition team is being blocked out from being in those discussions is putting lives at risk,” said Murphy. “You can’t just saunter in on Jan. 20 and pick up the playbook and execute it.”

At nearly the same time, Biden himself was making the case for his representatives to be included, telling a group of workers that the head of the General Services Administration (GSA) could act now to give him access to federal resources to help plan his coronavirus response.

“The law says that the General Services Administration has a person who recognizes who the winner is,” President-elect Biden said. “It doesn’t require that there be an absolute winner. It says the ‘apparent’ winner.”

Biden Pushes GSA

“We’re all ready to go,” said the President-elect, pledging to mount a major new effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic. But he said his ability to plan was restricted by the delayed transition caused by President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his victory and the GSA administrator signing the paperwork grants Biden’s transition team access to funds, equipment and government data.

President Trump is still contesting the outcome,asking for recounts in states such as Wisconsin and going to court to contest elections results. The Trump campaign has argued 25 times in court in challenging election results as of Nov. 18 and has only won one case. 

As a result of contesting the election, Trump officials have stated they are moving forward in preparing for a second term, including high ranking members such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Complex Plan

Murphy stated not working with Biden officials, especially when it comes to a two-jab, sub-zero vaccine, is a national health matter and the action of the Trump administration is putting lives at risk as a result. 

“I think the complexity of all of this is at another level relative to any other vaccine mission we have pursued,” said Murphy. “We are going to need our federal partners both logistically and financially every step of the way.”

The subject of cooperation between Trump and Biden was not brought up with White House officials but Murphy said “we are making that point strenuously and strongly through other channels and we will continue to do that both here using the bully pulpit and other avenues.”

Daily Data

As of Nov. 18, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 289,562 with 4,063 total new cases reported and 27 new deaths, bringing that total to 14,843. The state listed probable deaths at 1,812, bringing the overall total to 16,655.

For North Jersey counties, Bergen had a total of 414 new cases, Essex 382 new cases, Hudson 358 new cases, Passaic 342 new cases, Morris 172 new cases, Sussex 34 new cases and Warren 20 new cases.

State officials noted 31 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 1,957, followed by Bergen at 1,845, Hudson with 1,392, Passaic at 1,147, Morris at 705, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 160.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 246, Essex has 230, Hudson has 158, Morris at 147, Passaic at 144, Sussex has 36 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 14 was 10.9%. By region, the North has a rate of 11.1%, Central at 10.0% and the South at 12.2%. 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 1.43 from 1.42 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 2,446 patients are hospitalized; by region, there were 1,169 in the North, 686 in the Central and 591 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 461 are in intensive care units and 223 on ventilators, while 288 patients were discharged.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 31,168, followed by Bergen at 30,224, Hudson at 27,725, Middlesex at 26,818, Passaic at 25,682, Union at 24,912, Ocean at 19,163, Monmouth at 17,442, Camden at 15,517, Mercer at 11,641, Morris at 11,597, Burlington at 11,020, Somerset at 7,963, Gloucester at 7,432, Atlantic at 6,829, Cumberland at 4,532, Sussex at 2,158, Warren at 2,099, Hunterdon at 2,081, Cape May at 1,426 and Salem at 1,399.

Another 734 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 56 outbreaks involving 239 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with five new outbreaks involving 47 cases recorded. For North Jersey, Bergen County has seven confirmed outbreaks with 19 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 10 cases and Passaic County has two confirmed outbreaks with 19 cases. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 263 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 4,900 of the cases, broken down between 2,459 residents and 2,441 staff. 

Cumulatively, 921 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 26,213 residents and 14,942 staff, for a total of 41,155 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,263 on Nov. 18. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,890 residents deaths and 121 staff deaths.

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