On Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced 318 new positive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in New Jersey, bringing the statewide total to 742. Murphy also announced four additional deaths due to COVID-19, increasing the number of fatalities in New Jersey to nine.
“Let me just say as clearly as I can, we have expected these numbers. As you combine a reality of at least some community spread with an aggressive expansion of testing, we knew the number of positive results would go up,” he said. “I will tell you right now, as I sit here on March 19, these numbers will — I am certain sooner than later — go into the many thousands.”
In regards to the four new fatalities, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said they have confirmed three are associated with a long-term care facility. She said they are still gathering county details on 84 of the new positive COVID-19 cases.
“Our age ranges are confirmed as young as 3 to as high as 95 years of age,” Persichilli said. “We do expect cases to continue to rise for some time, and we expect them to rise exponentially as we improve our testing.”
Murphy put several new measures in place on Monday to increase social distancing, according to The Daily Targum. He said all nonessential retail businesses are required to close at 8 p.m. every day and other businesses, such as casinos, gyms and movie theaters, are closed completely until further notice. Bar and restaurants have also had to close all dine-in service and operate for take-out and delivery services only.
On Tuesday, he announced the closures of indoor shopping malls and amusement centers throughout the state until further notice, according to The Daily Targum.
Murphy announced an additional measure during the press conference, ordering the closure of all personal care businesses that are unable to comply with social-distancing guidelines, such as tattoo parlors, hair salons, nail salons and social clubs, until further notice.
He also said he signed another executive order regarding upcoming elections throughout the state.
“In addition to in-person submission of candidate petitions, the Secretary of State will allow candidate petitions to be submitted electronically,” Murphy said. “The Secretary of State’s office will also be creating an online petition form through which voters may submit signatures for candidate petitions by the March 30 deadline.”
For candidates with already completed petitions, Murphy said they should turn in their completed forms by March 30 and all pending signatures should be submitted electronically.
Murphy said the special elections in the fire district of Old Bridge on March 21, the special elections in Atlantic City and West Amwell Township on March 31 and all school elections on April 21 will be moved to Tuesday, May 12 with all other regularly scheduled, nonpartisan municipal elections. He said all of these elections will be conducted through mail-in voting only.
Murphy said he also plans to sign a bill Thursday afternoon that would give him the explicit authority through executive order to suspend the removal of residents due to foreclosures or evictions proceedings.
“These actions come on the heels of yesterday’s announcements by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that it is suspending all evictions and foreclosures on HUD-backed properties for 60 days, and by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that they are suspending all foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days for their mortgage holders,” he said.
Murphy asked all banks and lenders to put similar measures in place to make loan repayments for mortgage customers more flexible in the upcoming months.
“We simply cannot have families, already anxious over their health, anxious about whether they’re going to lose a roof over their heads,” he said.