What to Know
- As New Jersey announces 100+ more deaths from COVID-19 complications, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered flags lowered to half-staff Friday.
- The Garden State has had nearly 30,000 people test positive for the novel coronavirus.
- Officials are urging continued social-distancing measures despite the upcoming Easter and Passover holidays.
For the second-straight day, New Jersey has announced more than 100 more deaths of people who had contracted the novel coronavirus as the governor ordered flags to be lowered.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced the grim milestone at his daily press briefing Friday.
With the 113 new deaths, the total number of people lost to COVID-19 complications in the Garden State stood at 646. With more than 4,300 new cases of COVID-19, at least 29,895 people have tested positive for the deadly virus in New Jersey.
Among the new deaths announced Friday was 94-year-old jazz guitarist John “Bucky” Pizzarelli and 48-year-old Grover Cleveland Middle School (Caldwell) principal James Brown.
Among the new totals were seven deaths in Ocean County and one death each in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer and Salem counties, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
Murphy signed an executive order Friday that immediately called on all flags be lowered to half-staff for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic. The order has no end date.
"This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state and our nation," Murphy said.
North Jersey has been the hardest hit part of the state with the most cases and most deaths.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
Stay at Home Through the Holidays
Murphy continued to urge all people in the state to continue social distancing and staying at home to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
"We believe social distancing trumps anything else," Murphy said.
State health officials urged people to not gather for the upcoming Christian Holy Week and Easter and Jewish holiday of Passover. Easter gatherings and Passover Seders will need to be held virtually.
“We understand that while this may be disappointing to many... it is imperative to limit face-to-face interaction,” Persichilli said.
Health officials urged religious leaders around the state to notify their flocks of livestreamed services and celebrations available.
Murphy also mentioned that wearing masks or face coverings in public is not an issue, but warned that at least 6-feet of social distancing is a must.
“Behave as though you have it” so that you don’t get close to others, Murphy said.
New Testing Site in South Jersey
On Friday, Murphy announced the opening of Cumberland County's first COVID-19 testing site.
The site at the Rowan College of South Jersey Cumberland Campus in Vineland is by appointment only and for county residents with coronavirus symptoms only. People wanting to be tested must have a medical note to do so, Murphy said.
Tito's Vodka to the Rescue
Tito's Handmade Vodka is sending some medical supply relief to New Jersey in the form of hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves for use by first responders, Murphy said.
Murphy was thankful for the vodka's company's gift.
Commandeering Medical Supplies
New Jersey state police can now commandeer health supplies to address the COVID-19 outbreak.
Murphy signed an executive order Thursday, saying he hopes the state will not have to use the power it authorized. Companies have been voluntarily donating medical equipment, and the first-term Democrat said he's hopeful companies and people will continue doing the right thing.
The order complements an earlier executive order requiring all businesses to submit an inventory of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, ventilators and anesthesia machines, Murphy said.
On Friday, Murphy continued to urge people and companies to donate PPE supplies to cover the medical needs of the state.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.