TOMS RIVER, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is coming to Ocean County on Friday to discuss the outbreak of COVID-19 around Lakewood Township, that is also spreading to nearby Toms River and Jackson Township. Murphy, who has thus far said New Jersey’s reopening will be coordinated at the state level in a one-size-fits-all approach, could change that if the isolated rise in infections in Ocean County continues.
Last night, Murphy said all options to contain the virus in Ocean County were being discussed, giving an ominous warning that he did not want to sound ominous.
“All considerations are on the table as it relates to Lakewood, Ocean County, as you would want,” Murphy said on Wednesday. “I mean, I don’t say that ominously. That’s what folks would want us to say, want us to do and that’s in fact the case.”
Murphy did not go into detail about what actions could be taken. As of now, a large team of contact tracers have been dispatched to Lakewood by the Governor.
If Lakewood was a state, with a 26% positivity rate, it would be the most dangerous state in the country to visit, requiring a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Could Murphy issue a quarantine for Ocean County residents or roll back reopening just for Ocean County? Could he shut down indoor dining in Ocean County, even though there have been no reports of virus outbreaks from indoor dining since reopening last month? Could the governor shut down public schools, even though there have been few case of COVID-19 in Ocean County’s public schools since opening in September?
The frightful prospect of how Governor Murphy reacts to the evolving situation in Ocean County has many people worried that he would take draconian measures to reduce the infection rate and spread of the virus from Lakewood to surrounding communities.
As of now, the levels of infection being reported in Lakewood are at the levels reported statewide during the height of the pandemic. Or could Lakewood be the canary in the coalmine, giving the state, and even the country an insight into what’s to come this winter as gatherings begin moving indoors?
In any other year, the prospect of a sitting governor of a state in the United States of America unilaterally shutting down an entire economy, schools, businesses and religious services would be unheard of, but this year we are playing by COVID-19 rules. For now, we’ll have to sit tight and wait to see what Murphy’s weird science and fuzzy math tell him to do this time around.