NJ Top News 12/3: The Murph Who Stole Christmas
There is no place like home for the holidays. So, stay there.
While hinting tight new restrictions could be coming before Christmas, Gov Phil Murphy says people should not travel for the December holidays and they shouldn't plan any family gatherings.
Before Thanksgiving, Murphy imposed a 10-person limit on gatherings, including those inside private homes. He also recommended no loud talking or singing, and staying out of the kitchen. Those restrictions and recommendations and remain in place, and more could be on the way. Murphy again said "all options remain on the table," depending on what the data shows in the days ahead.
New Jersey has not seen a big spike in new novel coronavirus infections following the Thanksgiving holiday, but there is a lag in data reporting. We should know in the next few days if the anticipated spike happened. New Jersey did report another 4,000 new positive tests, but that number is in line with what we have been seeing over the last month. The top doctor at the Centers for Disease Control still believes there will be a nationwide spike through the winter months, and another 150,000 deaths by February. Most encouraging for our state is a continued drop in the rate of transmission. The rate measures how aggressively the virus is spreading from one person to another. At 1.08, New Jersey's current 'rate of transmission' suggests the spread of coronavirus is slowing.
What might Murphy order is he believes numbers are spiking? He refused to get into specifics, but has consistently said another statewide lockdown is an option. He did reject Newark Mayor Ras Baraka's citywide lockdown after Thanksgiving, forcing Baraka to instead only issue a "strong recommendation" to stay home. Baraka says he will issue a new executive order affecting his city on Friday, and lasting through the end of the pandemic.
Admitting "this stinks" and making references to the Grinch, Murphy pleaded with residents to "stay with us" and insisted any new restrictions would only be for a "handful of months." There is hope, Murphy believes, with a vaccine on the way. New Jersey is preparing to start distribution of the vaccine by the end of the month, with healthcare workers and the elderly taking priority.
The FDA has yet to approve a Pfizer vaccine, but it did get emergency approval in Great Britain. The FDA is expected to finish its review by mid-December. Initial excitement over the vaccine has been tempered in recent days as more information emerges about potential side effects. Some doctors worry those side effects could discourage people from getting the second required dose for full immunity. There are also still questions about how long the vaccine lasts and whether an inoculated person can still spread the coronavirus to those who have not been vaccinated. The Atlantic is outlining both the hope and concerns over the Pfizer vaccine and others still in testing stages.
While Murphy insists things may return to normal after a "handful of months," scientists and doctors wont put a timeframe on when the pandemic will be over. There is loose consensus that the end wont come before Memorial Day, at the earliest. Murphy has said the goal is vaccinating 70% of the adult population in New Jersey by some point next year, but a recent poll indicated the state would fall well short of that goal.
More NJ Top News:
- Coronavirus outbreaks in our schools remain rare.
- The FDA. is defending the review process for the Pfizer vaccine that has already won approval in the UK.
- Seven New Jersey American Youth Football teams are headed to Florida for the national championship. Sixteen teams formed their own league after existing leagues canceled the season.
- Jersey restaurants are shifting gears and deciding whether outdoor dining structures are worth the cost winter upkeep, or just close.
- Murphy publicly shamed a Bergen County restaurant that was packed with maskless patrons last week.
- A New Jersey State Police recruit injured during training exercise has died.
- The mayor of Lambertville has ordered the town to stop officially using Facebook after a citizens group used the page to criticize her administration.