TRENTON, NJ – Governor Phil Murphy today released what we are now dubbing his “Road to Nowhere” in front of a pool of press reporters who broke character today and questioned Murphy’s framework for his plan for restoring normalcy in the Garden State.
For now and the foreseeable future, what you see now, is essentially what you get. Murphy mentioned the May 15th target date several times, maintaining that nothing changes in New Jersey between now and then. What happens after May 15th? Murphy released his “Six Principles” to reopen the economy and dubbed a new catch phrase, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health”.
There’s a few problems with his plan. Lack of economic health is going to slowly lead to a rapid decline in other aspects of health for New Jersey residents. Murphy was asked about quarantine fatigue and acknowledged that fatigue is starting to become a reality.
“Our priority is to use science, data, and facts to put New Jersey on the road to recovery. In order to restore economic health, we must first promote public health,” said Governor Murphy. “These key principles and metrics are critical for giving New Jerseyans confidence that we will re-open our state with our public health protocols firmly in place and our health care system prepared. Restarting New Jersey’s economy and returning people to work will be done methodically, strategically, and responsibly.”
The plan starts with a pretty optimistic introduction, Governor Murphy’s stay-at-home Executive Order, which has been in effect since March 21st, will remain in effect in its entirety until further notice. The following six principles and key metrics will guide the process for lifting restrictions and restoring New Jersey’s economic health through public health.
Reporters today grilled Murphy on pretty much every aspect of his plan, in particular, the availability of testing capacity which nowhere near ready for a full statewide rollout, contract tracing, which is still in the pre-alpha stages and well, then there’s the rest that doesn’t really offer any more of a concrete plan outside of the handy infographic that came along with it.
So, New Jersey, sit tight, hang in there and when Murph is convinced New Jersey is ready to be freed, it will be at his discretion.
What about Memorial Day you ask? Just four weeks away, Murphy was equally evasive about Memorial Day, offering only that it won’t be like any other Memorial Days of the past. There’s just no “crisp” answer.
What about schools? The man doesn’t stutter, he said May 15th will be the next reevaluation for schools and May 15th it is, stop asking him and when he’s ready, he’ll let us know.
What about business? Well, if you watched today, you’ll know the answer is that the priority will be the healthcare numbers before he begins to worry about the failing businesses statewide, never mind how no small businesses qualified for COVID-19 stimulus and many who have applied for unemployment still haven’t even heard about the status of their claims.
What happens when those laid off, fired, or companies lost start losing health benefits and can’t afford to seek medical attention for other problems, let alone any problems because many general health practitioners aren’t seeing patients and routine medical procedures are now banned in New Jersey.
Anyway, in the interest of fairness, here’s the Governor’s plan.
Principle 1: Demonstrate Sustained Reductions in New COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
- 14-day trend lines showing an appreciable and sustained drop in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics reflecting decreasing burden of disease;
- Hospitals stepping down from functioning under crisis standards of care.
Principle 2: Expand Testing Capacity
- At least double current diagnostic testing capacity;
- Prioritize testing for health care workers, essential personnel, and vulnerable populations;
- Create a flexible testing plan accessible to all residents;
- Expand partnerships with institutions of higher education, private-sector labs, and the federal government;
- Ensure that those who test positive are linked to a health care provider.
Principle 3: Implement Robust Contact Tracing
- Recruit and deploy an army of personnel who will identify and follow-up with contacts;
- Leverage technological data and innovative solutions to increase efficiency;
- Coordinate the approach of local and state health officials, which will have a coordinated county/regional component.
Principle 4: Secure Safe Places and Resources for Isolation and Quarantine
- To the greatest extent possible, provide individuals who do test positive in the future with a safe and free place to isolate and protect others from COVID-19;
- Ensure that quarantined contacts are provided supportive services, if needed.
Principle 5: Execute a Responsible Economic Restart
- Create the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission to advise on the process and recommend responsible and equitable decisions;
- Plan for a methodical and strategic return to work based on level of disease transmission risk and essential classification;
- Continuation of social distancing measures, requirements for face coverings, and work-from-home directions where feasible and appropriate;
- Leverage any available federal funds and programs to support health care, individual, and small business recoveries.
Principle 6: Ensure New Jersey’s Resiliency
- Learn from the lessons of COVID-19 and prepare for the possibility of a resurgence;
- Ensure hospitals, health care systems, and other health delivery facilities have inventories of personal protective equipment and ventilators;
- Build our own state personal protective equipment and ventilator stockpile;
- Create a playbook for future administrations for the next pandemic.