Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on Wednesday, May 6, extending the state’s emergency order by another 30 days.

The existing emergency order, which first went into effect on March 9, was also extended on April 7.

The extension is not an indicator that New Jersey would be tightening existing restrictions, Murphy said. “This ensures we will continue on our current war footing for the coming month,” he said.

More than two-thirds of the state’s positive cases have now exited the two-week incubation period for the virus, which means that they are now starting to recover. New Jersey is also seeing a slowing of doubling rates of the cases. Essex County is now seeing a doubling of cases at more than 30 days.

Hospitalizations and new positive cases continue to trend downward. “But we cannot lull ourselves into thinking that all is well,” he said. The number of cases were still a reminder that thousands of New Jersey residents were still in the hospital with COVID-19.

A panel of experts, now working with the Department of Health, includes includes Cindy Mann, the former deputy administrator of Medicare and Medicaid Services, and who was also involved with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act during the Obama administration; and Carol Raphael, the former CEO and president of the Visiting Nurses Service of New York.

The panel will be working on reviewing protocols and equipment, conduct a review over a two to three-week period, and make recommendations.

New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have been hard-hit. As of Wednesday, 512 long-term facilities were reporting at least one COVID-19 case, and there have been 4,261 deaths. The number includes cases and deaths reported at nursing homes, veterans’ homes and state-run psychiatric hospitals.

Today’s numbers

On Wednesday, May 6, state officials reported 1,513 new cases, down from the 2,494 cases reported on Tuesday, which included numbers from the weekend due to a network outage. The overall total now stands at 131,890 cases. Officials reported 308 new deaths today, down from the 334 reported yesterday.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, there were 5,224 people in the hospital, of whom 1,549 were critical care patients, and there were 1,146 ventilators in use. On Monday night, 5,328 people were reported hospitalized due to COVID-19. The number of patients in critical care and on ventilators dropped to 1,534 in critical care and 1,169 on ventilators.

More people entered the hospital last night, but more were also released compared to Monday. Hospitals admitted a total of 439 new patients and released 435 patients last night. Patients released on Monday numbered 232, while 385 new patients were admitted.

Montclair township officials reported 381 total cases as of Tuesday, with a total of 44 fatalities. On Wednesday, the reported number of cases was 382, and the number of fatalities remained at 44.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, Essex County officials reported 162 new cases, up from the 97 reported yesterday, which now total 15,053. The county reported 25 new deaths, down from the 36 reported yesterday. Essex County still leads in the number of deaths per county at 1,349. Murphy acknowledged that residents may be frustrated over a lack of specifics, including when businesses can begin to reopen, and how the virus might spread over the next several months. “We are working morning, noon and night, but I will say, we don’t have all the answers,” he said.

Citing an article from “that renowned, left-wing, crazy newspaper, the Wall Street Journal,” Murphy said that computer models of the pandemic were only as accurate as the data that was entered into them, and that there are still a lot of unknowns about how the virus will spread. He also cited an article, also from the Wall Street Journal, quoting French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, saying that a fine line must be walked in reopening that country’s economy: too much carelessness would lead to a return of the virus, while too much caution would have long-term consequences.