New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is saying that social-distancing measures in his state have allowed for the slow reopening of the Garden State by reducing the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus.
Murphy discussed Tuesday how data has driven his push for social distancing. He said that back in March, each symptomatic or asymptomatic New Jerseyans was spreading the virus to at least five other people.
Murphy said that as of early June the rate of spread was cut to less than 1 to 1.
"Look how far we’ve pushed down this curve in 10 weeks," Murphy said. "We’ve saved, undoubtedly, hundreds of thousands fellow New Jerseyans from contracting COVID-19.
With spread of COVID-19 slowed, Murphy has slowly reopened parts of the state's economy.
Restaurants can host outdoor diners and in-person retail will resume June 15, while salons and barbershops can open on June 22, the Democrat said Monday. Social distancing will still be required, he said, but guidelines are still expected to be released by the state health department.
The announcement marked the state's move from Stage 1 of reopening to Stage 2, Murphy said. Moving to Stage 3, which the governor has termed the “new normal,” depends on how the state's trends go.
Already parks, golf courses and curbside pickup for retail have reopened.
As of Tuesday, nearly 818,000 COVID-19 tests had been reported in New Jersey, with nearly 162,000 people testing positive for the coronavirus. At least 11,770 people died from coronavirus-related complications. Fifty-one new deaths were announced Tuesday.
Spot positivity (how many people who have COVID-19 when they take a test) has dropped below 4% as of May 29, Murphy said.
The trends have been going down, but that could change, Murphy warned.
"Our economic restart cannot come with a restart of COVID-19," Murphy said. "Keep your social distances. Wash your hands. Wear a face covering when in public. It’s worked. It will keep working."
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.
Addressing Policing, Racism
Murphy began his remarks Tuesday by addressing protests and demonstrations in New Jersey in the wake of George Floyd's death while in Minneapolis police custody.
He said New Jersey will be updating its use of force policies for the first time in two decades. The goal is to have the new policy that "reflects the values of New Jersey today" out by the end of the year, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
The AG's office is ready to diffuse possible civil rights incidents.