How NJ, ‘One of the Safest States,’ is Preparing for COVID’s 2nd Wave
On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said tremendous progress has been made and New Jersey is now "one of the safest states in the United States." But he urged caution.
“Let’s be clear where we are," he said. "The virus is not done with us yet, not by a long shot.”
When Murphy was asked if the state is ready for a possible second wave of the virus this fall, he chose his words carefully.
"I’m going to say we’re as prepared probably as any American state,” he said. "But we’re all going through this for the first time."
Almost six months after restaurants were forced to close, indoor dining with limited capacity will restart Friday and movie theaters and performance spaces across the Garden State will also be permitted to open their doors, with customers sitting 6 feet apart wearing masks.
This follows the limited capacity restart of fitness centers and indoor amusements at the beginning of this week.
Additionally, some New Jersey schools will reopen completely while others will offer limited in-person classroom instruction after the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
Murphy noted that his proposed budget has a $2.24 billion surplus "not just because we like sitting on money [but] because the epidemiologists tell us a surge in the fall is probably a billion dollar revenue item.”
He said other steps have also been taken to prepare for a possible spike, including stockpiling 98 million pieces of personal protective equipment before winter.
To minimize the chance of a significant statewide spike, the Health Department has created a six-zone color-coded school surveillance system that will track local COVID cases. This will allow local health departments to shut areas if a surge in coronavirus cases is detected.
Also, the state now has more than 250 COVID-19 testing facilities, a long-term care emergency operations center and a more robust contact-tracing program.
“The good news is there’s a lot of movement on therapeutics, there’s a lot of movement on vaccines,” said Murphy. “And so, God willing, this is not a forever state we’re in — this is a period of time. Hopefully, we’ve got enough of a bridge to get us to that better place.”