Governor’s Restart and Advisory Council to Gather Localized Intel for Reopening

At today’s COVID-19 press briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he is signing an executive order to create the Governor’s Restart and Advisory Council, which will work in conjunction with the Restart and Recovery Commission announced last week. NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka will serve on the Main Street committee, as part of the advisory council. The council will bring together leaders from various industries and communities across New Jersey to aid the reopening of the state’s economy.

“If you think of the Restart and Recovery Commission as the strategy, then the Restart and Advisory Council will be the actual tactics,” Murphy said. “This is where the various voices of those on the ground in our small businesses, communities of faith, educational communities and more, will come together to advise us on the issues from the very specific and local levels.

Murphy described the advisory council as a “boots on the ground, real world approach to how we move forward.”

The council is divided into nine committees which will begin virtual meetings next week.

The nine committees are:

  • Facilities and construction
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Main street
  • Manufacturing and supply chain
  • Professional services
  • Social services and faith
  • Tourism and entertainment
  • Transportation and infrastructure

NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka will serve on the Main Street committee. In an effort to provide a starting point for the Governor’s Restart and Advisory Council, earlier this week, the New Jersey Business Coalition, a collection of 80 business and nonprofit groups, submitted a letter to the governor and the legislature with multipronged recommendations to reopen the state.

Specific members of each committee can be found here.

The co-chairs of the advisory council include: Secretary of Higher Education, Zakiya Smith Ellis; New Jersey Economic Development Authority CEO, Tim Sullivan; and Choose New Jersey President and CEO, Jose Lozano.

Asymptomatic Testing Now Available

Murphy also announced that the community testing sites at Bergen Community College and PNC Bank Arts Center will provide tests to certain asymptomatic New Jersey residents. Previously, only those who showed symptoms, such as a fever, for example, were able to get tested for COVID-19.

Asymptomatic testing will be prioritized for healthcare workers and first responders, personnel in congregate living settings, and New Jersey residents who have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Curve is Flattening

With 1,985 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the state’s total number of cases now stands at 135,454, with 8,952 total fatalities. Overall, the curve of new cases is flattening, as evidenced by data displayed at today’s press briefing. Additionally, the number of hospitalizations is also decreasing. 

“In our hospitals, the number of patients currently being treated continues to fall steadily,” Murphy said.

The current number of individuals hospitalized for the virus is 4,605, which is 1,000 less than a week ago.

Murphy further announced that the Meadowlands Expo Center Field Medical Station in Secaucus will close this weekend and transfer its operations to East Orange General Hospital. Since its opening, the site in Secaucus admitted 268 patients, discharging 251. It’s supplies and items will be kept in storage for rapid deployment elsewhere as needed.

“This is in no way a sign that we can or will relax our vigilance,” Murphy said. “It is a sign that the work that we have all been doing to slow the spread of COVID-19 is working, and that has put us in this position So keep up the great work.”

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