TRENTON, NJ – It has been a follow the leader exercise for many months between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy when it comes to reactionary measures to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy said he will not follow Cuomo’s lead and follow the New York governor down the indoor dining shutdown rabbit hole. Cuomo said he will shut down and reduce indoor dining as of Monday, December 14th if hospitalizations don’t go down.
Murphy said he won’t be doing the same because he said there’s no evidence yet to support indoor dining as being a vehicle for COVID-19 virus transmission.
” That is not, right now, on the table for us, and I say that for a couple of reasons. First of all, if we saw explicit waves of transmission coming out of the indoor dining experience, obviously we’d have a different approach. Again, I have to reiterate something,” Murphy said. “You take a higher risk – you take on higher risk when you conduct more activities indoors, whether that’s indoor dining, a gym, indoor entertainment, whatever it might be, and increasingly in private settings, but we knew that. Saying you’re taking on more risk is different than saying you’re going into Path’s Restaurant where we just heard that there were 30 confirmed positives. Those are completely different realities. We are still in the mode where we can surgically strike; we will strike. We did that with indoor dining after 10 o’clock. We did it with bar seating, and we watch it. We continue to watch it like a hawk.”
Murphy said the situation in New Jersey is not the same as it was in the spring. Perhaps, Murphy is also playing a page from his political playbook, knowing he has an election in 12 months and possibly even a primary election in six.
“I also want to hearken back to the spring. We were about to run out of hospital beds, ventilators, PPE. We were at the edge, and the fact of the matter is we spent the past – I guess of the nine months, probably the past six to seven months rebuilding those capacities,” Murphy said. “We do have hospitalizations that are up meaningfully, and I guess my guess is that they’re going to go higher, but they’re still about 5,000 beds shy of the peak in the spring.”
Instead, Murphy, who said everything is on the table is keeping to his current plan of surgical strikes against violators and hot spots.
“I’m saying really two things. If we see transmission in particular, if we see habits, we will strike surgically is our preference,” he said. “Secondly, we have capacities and a knowledge of this, and we’ll talk about modeling on Wednesday, not only knowledge of the virus but knowledge also of the range of where it could be headed. We will continue to do that.”