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Murphy gives update on NJ's pandemic response

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said he met with President-elect Joe Biden over the weekend to discuss a variety of issues, including the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and a need for federal investment in the New Jersey infrastructure.  – Photo by Gov. Phil Murphy / Facebook

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) held a press conference yesterday to provide updates on statewide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contact tracing efforts and his conversation with President-elect Joe Biden. 

An additional 3,573 cases and 17 deaths were reported in New Jersey yesterday, bringing the statewide total to 371,579 cases and 15,550 deaths. Another 1,836 deaths were potentially linked to COVID-19.

From the cases, there were a total of 3,346 hospitalizations, with 637 patients in critical or intensive care and 391 patients on ventilators.

The transmission rate has remained consistent with Friday’s rate of 1.05 percent, but Murphy said an increase in cases was reported over the weekend that will cause the rate to rise in the upcoming days.

“We continue to lose members of our New Jersey family to this virus, and even though the numbers are not what they were in the spring, they are no less sobering,” he said. “What we must also remember is that these proud New Jerseyans contracted this virus one way or another, and when you fail to wear your mask or social distance, you risk unknowingly passing (COVID-19) on to someone you love.”

Murphy provided updates on the state’s contact tracing program, which continues to expand in its capabilities. He said there are now more than 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents across the entire state, but the rate of non-cooperation with these tracers is 74 percent of cases.

Murphy said it is critical for New Jersey residents to cooperate with contact tracers in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. While people may decide to take matters into their own hands, he said the work should be left to trained public health professionals.

“Remember, our contact tracers are not on a witch hunt. They are only concerned with stopping the spread of this virus,” Murphy said. “We urge you (to) please work with our contact tracers and do your part to end this pandemic.”

He also said he had a conversation with Biden over the weekend to discuss a number of current issues, including the pandemic, the need for federal stimulus and the New Jersey infrastructure.

Murphy said he has confidence that the Biden COVID-19 advisory team will be able to make a smooth transition.

Additionally, he said they discussed concerns regarding a more comprehensive stimulus package for New Jersey and the need for robust federal investment in infrastructure, specifically funding for the Gateway Program, which aims to improve the passenger railway system that connects New Jersey to New York City.

“The needs of New Jersey are being put front and center for the incoming (Biden) Administration, and we look forward to a fruitful partnership for our state and for our residents,” he said. “Regardless of what your political persuasion is, we are in the business of looking out for all 9 million of us.”

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