Oakland Restaurant Singled Out by Gov. Phil Murphy for Allowing Knucklehead Behavior

The images of an overcrowded bar in North Jersey the night before Thanksgiving drew the ire of Gov. Phil Murphy.

The governor weighed into the controversy surrounding Portobello’s restaurant in Oakland, commenting on the viral photo of a crowded outdoor bar not adhering to coronavirus pandemic protocols Nov. 25. 

“I am trying real hard but I can’t find a face mask in that crowd and there is certainly not any effort to be socially distant,” said Murphy at a press briefing Dec. 2. “The entire concept of personal responsibility is completely absent.” 

He later added, “I look at that Portobello restaurant and my jaw drops as obviously everybody is not doing the right thing.”

Swift Action

The first-term Democratic governor complimented the quick actions of borough officials. Oakland Mayor Linda Schwager and the borough council called an emergency council meeting to address the issue on Monday, Nov. 30. At that meeting, municipal officials revoked their outdoor dining permits after 4:00 p.m. for the next 30 days. Additionally, the owners must appear in front of the council before the permits are reinstated. 

Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick J. Callahan said the owners were given citations and face criminal charges for allowing crowds both on the night before Thanksgiving and the following Saturday night, Nov. 28.

Citations were given for both nights to the restaurants owners for violating the governor’s executive orders and criminal nuisance complaint for knowingly or recklessly allowing a large group of persons to gather on the premises, endangering the health of a number of people.

At Risk Behavior

The governor noted that the overwhelming majority of restaurant owners are playing by the rules across the state.

“Outlier owners who think the rules don’t apply to them give the good and hard-working restaurateurs across New Jersey a black eye,” said Murphy. “We will not tolerate knucklehead behavior that puts people at risk.”

The governor encouraged anybody who went to the restaurant on either night to get tested for COVID.

Daily Data

As of Dec. 2, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 346,206 with 4,350 total new cases reported and 56 new deaths, bringing that total to 15,309. The state listed probable deaths at 1,836, bringing the overall total to 17,145.

For North Jersey counties, Passaic had a total of 482 new cases, Hudson 438 new cases, Bergen 396 new cases, Essex 288 new cases, Morris 182 new cases, Warren 43 new cases and Sussex 34 new cases.

State officials noted 51 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 2,007, followed by Bergen at 1,893, Hudson with 1,428, Passaic at 1,180, Morris at 717, Sussex at 162 and Warren with 160.

In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 252, Essex has 233, Hudson has 159, Morris at 148, Passaic at 144, Sussex has 38 and Warren has 13.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of Nov. 28 was 13.7%, with the North having a rate of 15.3%, Central 12.8% and South 12.3%. 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 1.08 from 1.10 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 3,287 patients were hospitalized, with 507 new hospitalizations. By region, there were 1,562 in the North, 1,019 in the Central and 706 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 599 are in intensive care units and 354 on ventilators, while 367 patients were discharged.

Essex Tops County Count

Essex has the most cumulative cases in the state with 36,028, followed by Bergen at 35,726, Hudson at 32,465, Middlesex at 31,578, Passaic at 31,047, Union at 28,969, Ocean at 22,545, Monmouth at 21,267, Camden at 19,842, Burlington at 14,203, Mercer at 14,170, Morris at 14,118, Somerset at 9,360, Gloucester at 9,331, Atlantic at 8,218, Cumberland at 5,220, Sussex at 2,687, Hunterdon at 2,577, Warren at 2,570, Cape May at 1,703 and Salem at 1,698.

Another 830 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 70 outbreaks involving 285 cases have been reported in 19 of the 21 counties in the Garden State, with four new outbreaks involving 16 cases recorded in the last week. For North Jersey, Bergen County has nine confirmed outbreaks with 24 cases, Warren County has four confirmed outbreaks with nine cases, Sussex 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 342 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 6,402 of the cases, broken down between 2,967 residents and 3,435 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,029 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 26,962 residents and 16,081 staff, for a total of 43,043 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,319 on Dec. 2. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,961 residents deaths and 122 staff deaths.

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