COVID-19: Murphy denounces McConnell, proposed federal spending plan
By ERIN ROLL
As New Jersey saw a rise in overall positive cases and hospital patients on Wednesday, July 22, Gov. Phil Murphy condemned a proposed federal spending plan that would end any more direct federal aid for COVID-19.
Murphy denounced the plan proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during Wednesday's press briefing.
“This is a slap in the face of every governor across the country, Republican and Democrat, who have shouldered the burden of this pandemic,” Murphy said.
Nationally, states are facing a combined shortfall of $555 billion, Murphy said.
In New Jersey, Murphy said the schools will be short $1 billion if they do not receive federal support. Additionally, 120,000 New Jerseyans have lost health insurance over the past five months, and Medicaid costs have gone up: “We cannot lose one penny of our essential federal aid to support these residents,” Murphy said.
“Because of this pandemic, we are undergoing an unprecedented fiscal crisis, the likes of which have been seen twice in our 244-year history,” Murphy said. Those two instances were the Civil War and the Great Depression, he said.
Murphy vowed that he would be sending a strong message to McConnell. “He has my word on that.”
On Tuesday, Murphy advised individuals traveling to New Jersey from 10 new states with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state.
The new advisory brings the number of hot-spot states — as measured by a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average — up to 31.
As of Tuesday, July 21, the hot-spot states were Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Minnesota, which had been on the list previously, was removed on Tuesday.
The two-week quarantine applies to college students as well, Murphy said.
Travelers and residents who are returning from impacted states should self-quarantine at their home, hotel or other temporary lodging and should seek testing, state officials have said. Individuals should leave the place of self-quarantine only to seek medical care/treatment or to obtain food and other essential items.
Air travelers will also be asked to fill out an online survey.
Murphy clarified an announcement on Monday regarding contact sports.
Contact sports may resume drills and practices, but must be done outside in open air, he said.
For martial arts studios, they may practice indoors, but only with 25 percent capacity, and with all participants wearing masks. Yoga studios and Pilates studios are subject to the same requirements. Gyms, however, may only open for one-to-one instruction.
Although cases in New Jersey rose, the positivity rate had declined slightly by Wednesday.
Health officials reported 390 new positive cases, up from 177 on Monday, bringing the state total to 177,645.
On Monday, officials had reported a glitch at the Quest laboratory, with about 15,000 test reports, was causing reporting backups. Based on Monday’s positivity rate, those tests could reflect an additional 250 to 400 positive tests that were lagging.
On Tuesday night, hospitals reported 873 patients, of whom 423 had tested positive for COVID-19, and 450 had tests pending. Hospitals reported 151 patients in critical care and 77 ventilators in use. On Sunday night, hospitals reported 798 patients, 146 critical care, and 72 ventilators in use.
The positivity rate is 2.48 percent, down from 2.8 percent on Monday.
Murphy said that the 0.90 virus transmission rate reported on Wednesday may not be accurate, due to ongoing stress and backups at testing labs.
Health officials reported 24 new deaths, up from nine deaths reported Monday, bringing the total to 15,707 deaths of which 13,787 are confirmed and 1,920 are probable. The number of confirmed deaths changes, as a death may be reclassified as a confirmed death, or identified as a duplicate record. The number of probable deaths represents a decline from the previous 1,974 probable cases on record.
New Jersey currently ranks 10th among states for daily deaths per capita.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli reported two more cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, bringing the state total to 55 cases.
On Wednesday, Essex County officials reported 39 new cases, up from the nine reported on Monday, bringing the county total to 19,229. But the number of deaths was revised downward from 1,854 to 1,835.
Montclair health officials reported Wednesday that the total number of cases remained at the total to 469. The number of deaths remained at 54.