Murphy on Second Wave of COVID-19: ‘It is Coming Now!’

During a Facebook Live COVID-19 briefing today, Gov. Phil Murphy sounded the alarm on a “second wave” of COVID-19, as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in New Jersey have continued to increase over the past several weeks. 

“[The numbers] continue to show that the second wave of the coronavirus is no longer something off in the future. It is coming, and it is coming now,” Murphy said. “We have been seeing the numbers of new cases grow exponentially across the past several weeks, and along with that, the patients being treated in our hospitals have similarly been on the rise.

Murphy urged residents to “double down on the practices that helped to flatten the curve in the first place last spring and throughout the summer.”

In terms of the root cause of the increase in cases, the governor again said that he sees the rise in numbers being linked to small gatherings in private homes. “We take some solace that these spikes do not appear to be related to our schools,” Murphy said, adding that there is also no evidence that the increase in numbers is related to restaurants either. In terms of any new action on restaurants, including a possible pull back or increase in restrictions, Murphy said “[we are currently] in a holding pattern.”

Separately, when asked about a potential freeze of the minimum wage increase in January (the minimum wage is increasing by $1 every year until it sits at $15 an hour in 2024), Murphy said, “There are no plans at all to change the schedule on minimum wage.”

The state’s positivity rate currently sits at 6.54%, a figure that Murphy said is “very concerning.” With 1,477 new cases over the past 24 hours, overall, the state has seen 234,547 total cases. There are currently 1,072 patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 reasons, with 217 in critical care, and 79 requiring a ventilator. A total of 14,539 deaths have been reported from the coronavirus in New Jersey.

While Murphy described the current COVID-19 numbers as sobering, he added that, “I commit to you as a state that we are ready for [the second wave].”

According to the governor, the state has worked to build its capabilities to combat the second wave in three key areas including: personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and contact tracing.

So far, New Jersey has distributed 82 million pieces of PPE since the start of the pandemic. Murphy said that the past few months have been used to secure an additional PPE stockpile.

According to Murphy, New Jersey currently has:

– 5.7 million N95 masks + 1.6 million on order (Target goal 5.9M)

– 13.3 million surgical masks (Goal 14.3M)

– 1.3 million face shields + 665,000 on order (Goal 2.15M)

– 3.7 million hospital gowns + 1.5 million on order (Goal 4.5M)

– 3.9 million gloves + 1.5 million on order (Goal 117M)

– 2,050 ventilators with 597 currently deployed statewide.

The state is additionally recording 33,000 tests per day and has conducted 4.5 million tests to date. Murphy added that an additional 2.6 million Abbott Labs BinaxNOW antigen rapid tests are currently available.

Finally, within two weeks, Murphy said that there will be 2,100 contact tracers working throughout the state.

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