Coronavirus Pandemic – Stadiums Sports Games Resume Without Fan Crowds
New Jersey Strong news – Trenton, NJ: NJ Office of the Governor reports 7.20.2020.
Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Allowing the Resumption of Contact Practices and Competitions for Certain Organized Sports in Outdoor Settings.
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 168, allowing the resumption of contact practices and competitions in outdoor settings for organized sports defined as “high risk” by the New Jersey Department of Health’s “Guidance for Sports Activities.” Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 149 on May 29, 2020, allowing organized sports to resume on a phased-in schedule as defined by the Department of Health as “low,” “medium,” and “high risk” activities.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my Administration has been committed to using all of the available science, data, and facts guide New Jersey’s strategic reopening and resumption of activities,” said Governor Murphy. “Today, our data gives us confidence, that in outdoor settings and with the proper public health and safety protocols in place, contact sports can resume while protecting players, coaches, and staff.”
The order stipulates that practices and competitions must be held in outdoor settings only, and encompasses sports including football, cheerleading, group dance, rugby, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo, and wrestling. All sports will have to abide by a number of health and safety protocols, including screenings for athletes, coaches, and staff; limited equipment sharing; and strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment. Additionally, sports under the oversight of either the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association or the NCAA must abide by those associations’ rules. All sporting activities are subject to the “Guidance for Sports Activities,” and such activities must comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders.
The order will take effect immediately.
For a copy of Executive Order No. 168, please click here.
TRANSCRIPT: July 20th, 2020 Coronavirus Briefing Media.
Governor Phil Murphy: Good afternoon. With me to my right is the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli. To her right, another familiar face, the Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz. Great to have you both. To my left, another guy who needs no introduction, the Superintendent of the State Police, Colonel Pat Callahan, Director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Jared Maples is with us. Good afternoon.
By the way, Judy and Pat, this is the 97th time we have come together in a press conference since the pandemic began. We are with you early today and we appreciate your flexibility, because we have a VTC with Vice President Pence immediately after this. We probably also will buzz through our news as fast as we can and we’ll probably also ask you to be fairly crisp and economical with your questions.
I want to start today by offering my prayers, and I know my colleagues join me, to Federal Court Judge Esther Salas, whose son was murdered and husband seriously wounded yesterday in a brazen and cowardly act of gun violence at their home in North Brunswick. We give our full support to Judge Salas and her husband at this most trying time. This is an unconscionable tragedy. We also give our full support to the men and women of law enforcement who are actively seeking out those responsible for this horrific crime. If you have any information that can help law enforcement, please call the FBI’s Newark office at 1-800-792-3000. That’s 1-800-792-3000. Press option 2. God bless them all.
We are right now, switching gears, in the midst of a heat wave that will continue to impact the state for the next several days. The entire state is under either a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning through this evening. The heat index will be near 110 degrees in many spots and while the next several days don’t look to be quite as severe, the heat index will still be up near 100. Please take precautions over the next several days. Be sure to stay properly hydrated and limit your outdoor activities to either early or late in the day, and make a quick phone call to family and neighbors who may be vulnerable to the heat. This is a good day to stay home in the air conditioning and practice some social distancing.
Next, later this week, and I’m probably going to put off any questions you might have about it because it’s still being put together, the Department of Education will be releasing guidance allowing for parents to choose all remote learning for their children. Again, the details will be coming out later this week but we wanted everyone to know that we will allow for this step. We had a very good sort of whole of government meeting, I think I mentioned this in our Friday press conference, late Friday afternoon. There are a lot of moving parts with this, and this being back to school. This is about as complex a step as we will take or any American state will take and we want to get it right. We want to do it responsibly. We want to respect public health, but we also want to do everything we can to try to recapture that magic of some semblance of in-person education that no state does like New Jersey.
Next, I’m signing an Executive Order today to allow contact drills and practices and competitions to resume today for high-risk sports, as had been announced last month. These practices, however, must be held at outdoor venues only and encompass sports including football and rugby, boxing, martial arts, wrestling and cheerleading, among others for which the Department of Health has released detailed guidance. All sports will have to abide by a number of health safety protocols, including screenings for athletes, coaches and staff, limited equipment sharing and strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment, and any sports under the oversight of either the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association or the NCAA must abide by those associations’ rules. But we do feel confident that in an outdoor setting, and with the proper public health and safety protocols in place, and being followed by the way, these sports, as we had predicted, may resume.
On Saturday, our nation lost a true hero with the passing of civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Throughout his 60 years fighting for the rights of African Americans and all who have faced oppression and bigotry, Congressman Lewis dedicated the past 34 years to fighting for our national soul in the halls of Congress. And while he was revered as the Conscience of the Congress, he was just as much the conscience of our nation. I had the great honor, as you can see here, of hosting Congressman John Lewis in Berlin when I served as the US Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany under President Barack Obama. He was an incredible gentleman, a hero, a powerful presence. We’ll never forget his visit and the moments that we had on that magical evening together. His loss leaves a void at an important time in our history, as we are confronting as never before the legacies of systemic racism that John Lewis dedicated his life to undoing.
But if there’s one thing I do know, it is the John Lewis knew the struggle would live on after he was gone, and that a new generation of leaders would emerge to carry on the banner of equality. We’ve seen them emerge over the past several months. I firmly believe that John Lewis is looking down now on this new generation that his legacy will continue to guide us and that we will never shy from causing some, as he said, good trouble. In John Lewis’ honor, I have ordered our flags to be flown at half-staff until he is laid to rest. It is the least we can do, a fitting tribute to a man who gave his public life ensuring that our nation lived up to its grandest ideals. May he rest in peace, and may he rest in power. And I should also acknowledge the passing, extraordinarily on the same day, of the Reverend CT Vivian, another leader within the civil rights movement. Same day, two incredible giants.
Before we go to the overnight numbers, I looked John Lewis was the last living speaker at the very famous march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28th, 1963 and it’s literally an incredible lineup, Judy and Pat and Ed. The national anthem by Marian Anderson, the Archbishop of Washington giving the invocation, A. Philip Randolph, a giant, opening remarks, among others, and I’m not going to name them all. The widow of Medgar Evers, Mrs. Medgar Evers, John Lewis, as I said, Walter Reuhter who ran the AFL-CIO, Rabbi Yuri Miller, Whitney Young, of course, who ran the Urban League, Roy Wilkins, who ran the NAACP. Mahalia Jackson sang, just an incredible — Benjamin Mays, who was the President of Morehouse College, just unbelievable. And last but not least, without notes, giving, I believe, the most relevant speech in the history of our country, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And for those who are too young to remember, that is the “I Have a Dream” speech. Again, August 28th, 1963. They’ve all now passed with John Lewis’ passing, so God rest each and every one of those souls.
With that, let’s turn to the overnight numbers. Today, although I have to say Judy will get into some more detail, we’ve got some noise in our data, I think you and I believe today, right? An additional 177 positives, cumulative number of positives, 176,963. As Judy will go through, one of our private labs is having some data reporting issues which I think skew that number a little bit. Statewide positivity 2.8%, that’s down from Sunday which was 3.5%, up a little bit. That number also may be skewed by the labs, but it probably shouldn’t be unless that lab was, for whatever reason, processing an overwhelming higher percentage of positives or it was fishing in some negatives, that should not be impacted. Rate of transmission has come down, thankfully, 0.90. That could be impacted by the data. Our hospitals reported a total of 798. There’s a roughly 50-50 split, Judy, between those who are known of that 798, known COVID-19 positive, and those persons, PUIs, under investigation.
Number of patients needing intensive or critical care 146, 72 ventilators in use. These are how our hospital metrics stack up of, both the past couple of weeks and since the peak are standing in comparison to our peer states, if you want to flip over to that if we could, also continues to improve. Not yet where we want to be in all areas, including fatalities. Again, as we’ve mentioned before, just because our hospitals continue to see their standing improve is no reason for us to become complacent. And we cannot ignore the fact that many states are right now living what we live throughout March and April, so we cannot let up because we know this virus can rebound.
Today we are reporting another nine confirmed COVID-related deaths across the state. However, as Judy has been saying of late and she’ll give you more color on this, this is a reminder to everybody that this does not mean that only nine people have passed in the past 24 hours, and Judy will give you some more color. A total now of 13,741 lab-confirmed losses of lives and the number of probable deaths remains at another 1,974. Unfathomable numbers. As we do each day, let’s remember some of those who we have lost.
We’ll begin in Camden to remember Gerald Baker. Gerry was born, raised and educated in the City of Camden and went on to become a Dean’s List student at the former Glassboro State College, now Rowan University, on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Jerry had a distinguished 35-year career with the Camden County Board of Social Services. During his career in public service, he was a proud member of CWA Local 1084 and worked his way up through leadership as a newsletter editor, as financial secretary, shop steward, Vice President and ultimately interim President. One of Gerry’s favorite stories from his time in union leadership was when he met then Senator Barack Obama who borrowed his pen, and as Jerry noted, did not give it back. I hope the President, if he’s watching, can track that down.
Gerry love jazz and even played the saxophone, and he was a dedicated member of Parkside United Methodist Church in Camden where he ran the food ministry. He leaves behind his wife of 29 years Billyah, with whom I had the great honor of speaking on Friday. He died shortly before what would have been their 30th anniversary. He’s also survived by his parents, bless them, Julia and Ulysses and his children Deborah, Tanisha, by the way, who’s expecting twins, Kevin, Aisha and Gerald, seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren. He also leaves his brothers Ulysses, Terrence and Darrell, a host of nieces and nephews and countless friends and union colleagues. Gerry was only 64 years old. We thank him for his service to our state and may God bless and watch over him.
Next, this is a tough one we had. They’re all tough, but this one for reasons that are probably fairly evident in terms of the age here, we head to Waldwick in Bergen County to remember Martin Addison. He was born in the United Kingdom and came to the United States at the age of eight, and Martin was only 44 years old. He was a speech language pathologist at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center and was known for his compassionate nature with patients and colleagues. But most important to Martin was his family. And his favorite job was as Papa to his two-year-old daughter Elsie and his five-month-old son Graham. He loved sports. It was an eclectic mix of English soccer, the Denver Broncos, the New York Mets and the UConn Huskies as well as — that’s quite a mix right? Would you agree with me? As well as Star Wars, James Bond, playing and fixing up guitars and listening to all sorts of music.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Pamela, with whom I had the great honor, although it was awfully tough, I have to say, speaking on Friday and their two children, as I mentioned, Elsie and Graham. He also was survived by his mom Philippa and his father and stepmother Kenneth and Marilyn, his half-sister Rosanna and his half-brother Charlie, his stepbrother Doug, his niece and nephew Imagine Henry, and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and dear friends. A life that COVID took way too soon. We pray for him and his family, especially his young children. I mentioned he was a huge sports fan, and there was no team that Martin loved more than Liverpool Football Club. He saw them win the Champions League last year. He died before they won the Premier League this year. And so Martin, in the words made famous in the Broadway musical Carousel, and made even more famous by Liverpool’s own Gerry and the Pacemakers, you’ll never walk alone.
And finally for today, we remember Edison’s Peter Dario, look at that shot. Peter came to New Jersey from the Philippines in the early 1980s when he was around 20 years old, and found work in the insurance industry as a claims adjudicator. He was a community-minded man who showed his appreciation for others in small yet significant ways. For example, He would often give homemade empanadas to the public works team picking up the trash as a thank you for their hard work. He loved to cook, to fish, and to listen to music.
Peter leaves behind his wife of 33 years, Minda, with whom I had the great honor of speaking, and his children daughters Marsha and Michelle, who are both nurses, by the way, and his son, Peter John, with whom I also had the honor of speaking. Peter, the dad, was only 59 years old and you cannot fathom this or make this up. Mendez, his wife’s father died, I don’t believe from COVID-19, three days after Peter died in late March, yet because of all the restrictions we have had in place, their funerals were this past Saturday, July 18th. What an extraordinary reality. May God bless you, Peter and your father-in-law and each and every one of your members of your family.
Three more from among the thousands of New Jerseyans that COVID-19 has now taken away from us. We remember them, their stories and their families, and we honor their memories by doing whatever we can to prevent other families from knowing the pain that has been visited upon them. This is why we need to keep wearing our face coverings when in public, indoors and out. I know it’s not a comfortable thing to do on a 100-degree day. You don’t like it. I don’t like it either, but it is absolutely necessary for us to keep hammering away at this virus and to save every single life we possibly can.
This is why we also ask you to go to covid19.nj.gov/testing to find a site near you so you can go out and get tested. Testing is available to everyone. It is incredibly important to know whether or not you are unknowingly carrying this virus and potentially spreading it to your family and friends, especially if you have been recently traveling through a coronavirus hotspot and are observing your 14-day self-quarantine. And by the way, as we discussed earlier as well, Judy, and Pat, we know this folks, so you don’t have to tell us. The turnaround time is longer than any of us would want right now because of what’s raging, this virus is raging elsewhere in the country. We are not immune to that. But that does not mean it still is not worth going out getting tested. Please go out and get tested.
Let’s continue to pull together folks, as one state and one New Jersey family, to protect our communities and defeat COVID-19 together. Only through our continued hard work and progress can we move forward in our economic restart and recovery. We’ve said it many times, public health creates economic health. It flows in that order. And in this time, we continue to work through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to support the small businesses that we rely upon to boost us from this pandemic. One of them is iSport360, an early stage youth sports technology company based in Manalapan. iSport360 was founded by that guy right there, Ian Goldberg, who is using his background working for the economic advisors to two United States presidents and as an innovator in the early dotcom days to keep more than 100,000 coaches, players, parents and teams virtually connected as they waited for a return to the playing field. And as Ian reminded me, we’ve kind of gone back to the old days. Sports have become, our lives have become a lot more local, this notion of traveling to state X for the tournament. Hopefully we’ll get back to that sooner than later but we’re not there now. This has become a very local reality again, just sort of the way it used to be. And as COVID-19 means many sports teams had to abandon their locker rooms, iSport360 found a broader audience, even being featured by the Washington Post. Ian and iSport360 recently received $45,000 through the EDA’s Entrepreneur Support Program, and was one of the first companies to benefit from this program, which is designed to support innovative businesses impacted by the pandemic. Ian has been able to build out virtual training features of iSport360’s platform, hire a sales and marketing team to launch its next-generation product later this month, and to serve as a bridge to a crucial round of new investments which are set to close on September 1. Ian and iSport360 represent the future of New Jersey’s economy, nimble and innovative. So to you Ian and your team, our hat is off to you for building iSport360’s future here in New Jersey, and we wish you the very best going forward.
Unrelatedly, I also want to acknowledge another great team, and that is the New Jersey Community Development Corporation in Paterson. You see some of its members right there, which last week distributed roughly 400 Chromebooks to students as part of $100,000 effort to bridge the digital divide in Paterson schools, and ensure that every student has the tools they will need for both in person and remote learning. So to CEO Bob Gurashi, that’s Bob in the back with the baseball cap, and to the Community Development Corporation team, thank you. Bless you for everything you do. This is as good a place for me to end right now, so please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Thank you, Governor and good afternoon. We recognize the economic realities of COVID-19 for many of our residents have been devastating. To help those in need, the Department of Health has been working to ensure food assistance for low-income communities to make sure it is still accessible through the pandemic. We made many modifications to our WIC program our Department’s Women, Infants and Children’s program, which annually serves 217,000 pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children under five years of age, to ensure that this resource is still available to residents.
To further ensure access to fresh produce, we are also eliminating barriers to participate in the WIC and the senior farm markets program. These programs work with local farmers to provide locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs to low-income women, infants and children and seniors. Each summer the program serves about 87,000 WIC participants and seniors. June through November each year, the department provides vouchers for participants to buy local produce from WIC-authorized farmers markets throughout New Jersey. Certified farmers can accept both WIC and senior farmer’s market vouchers. Seniors receive $30 worth of vouchers and WIC participants are provided $25 worth of vouchers for the season, which is June through November.
This year, participants are receiving their vouchers primarily by mail, unless a pickup arrangement can be set up safely. They can designate a proxy to pick up their produce from the markets for them. Additional precautions are being made for seniors. All certifications and recertifications will be done remotely by the telephone. Participants can complete a self-declaration of income and won’t need to show proof of income eligibility for the program. Seniors can designate several proxies to pick up their produce on their behalf to limit risk of exposure.
There are 210 certified farmers statewide serving all 21 New Jersey counties. I encourage everyone who is eligible for the farmers market program to take advantage of locally grown fresh produce this summer. To find out if you’re eligible for this program, visit nj.gov/health.
As a reminder, the department is launching our electronic survey today that will collect information from airline passengers who have traveled from states heavily impacted by COVID-19. The electronic survey will be accessible by texting NJ travel to the number 898-211 or by visiting covid19.nj.gov/njtravel, or by scanning a QR code on posters that are placed at airports. Local health departments will call the traveler to remind them of the request to self-quarantine, and make sure they know where they can go for testing if needed, and ascertain if they have any other needs.
Moving on to my daily report, as the Governor shared, our hospitals are reporting 798 hospitalizations with 146 individuals in critical care, 49% of those individuals are on ventilators. Fortunately, there are no new reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, so the total remains at 53.
The Governor review the new cases and deaths reported today. In terms of deaths, the breakdown by race and ethnicity is as follows: White 54.2%, Black 18.3%, Hispanic 20.2%, Asian 5.5% and other 1.8%. Of the nine deaths we are reporting today, two occurred in June and the remaining seven occurred In July. Our hospitals report seven mortalities over the past three days, including two over the past 24 hours. That is comparing us to over 450 deaths in the 24-hour period at our peak.
The department is experiencing a problem receiving Quest laboratory results electronically, and their results are not included in today’s numbers. That may be causing our case numbers to be lower than expected. We are working to resolve this problem which may require uploading this data manually and it will be represented in future reports. The daily percent positivity as of July 16th is 2.80 for New Jersey. That’s 2.63 in the North, 2.24 Centrally, and 4.11 in the South. That concludes my daily update. With the extreme heat we are experiencing, everyone should be taking precautions to protect their health. Drink plenty of water. Wear loose or light-colored clothing, wear a hat when outdoors, use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection. Avoid any outdoor activity during the hottest hours of the day. Reduce physical activity or reschedule it for cooler times of the day, early morning or evening. Don’t leave children or frail elderly or disabled persons or pets in an enclosed car, not even for a minute, as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels. Stay connected, stay safe, stay healthy, get tested and mask up. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, thank you. And folks, Judy has been pounding on the theme that over the past number of weeks, as we’re seeing elsewhere in the country, that cases have crept much more prevalently than they used to be a few months ago into our youth. I just want to make sure we remind folks of that. In fact, I made a lot of the Last Dance World Series, which is now in the round of 32, 16 in the North and 16 in the South, but two teams had to drop in the south because of exposure. So just to remind folks, we’ve got a few balls in the air. 110 degree heat, you know, and a virus that while we have brought it way, way, way, way, way down in this state, is not to zero and we continue to see a country where the virus in oh so many places is exploding still and we have them in our prayers and wish them nothing but a speedy resolution.
Speaking of being in prayers, Pat, it’s good to have you with us. How are we looking on the overnight compliance without getting, I know, into any specifics, how are the shooting realities? I know we’ve had an uncomfortable increase over the past month in the country, never mind in New Jersey, and anything else you’ve got.
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. There were no Executive Order compliance issues reported to the ROIC over the weekend. To your point with regards to shootings across New Jersey, just over the weekend, we had seven shooting incidents which resulted in nine victims being shot. Two of those victims succumbed to their injuries as homicides. So again, it’s just our partners, it’s a daily conversation on how we’re going to mitigate that and hopefully eliminate those shootings all together. Just with regards to the heat, I remind everybody that 211 is a great source of information if you’re looking for a cooling center, 211, whether you call it or whether you go to nj211.org, that has information listed by specific county based upon if you needed to go to a cooling center and if your respective county has one open. Thanks, Governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Pat. I think we’ve all said this, but also folks, remember friends, family, neighbors who are particularly vulnerable during a period like this. Seniors, somebody who has not been feeling well, somebody certainly who doesn’t have access to air conditioning and to Pat’s point, keep up on where the nearest cooling center may be in your county. Is that fair? I think we’re going to start over here, Dante. So we’re going to be on with the White House later, in fact, right after this. And we’ll stay with our Monday, Wednesday, Friday unless you hear otherwise. And so therefore, we’ll be back, Mahen, here at one o’clock, I think on Wednesday. And again, we’ll be with you virtually tomorrow and if we think there’s reason to turn that into an in-person session or telephone conference, we will let you all know. Thank you. Dustin, good afternoon.
Dustin Racioppi, Bergen Record: Good afternoon. Can you confirm that the suspect in the shooting at judge Salas’ home is dead and any other details that you may know?
Monmouth County said Sunday that it had no new cases and one death. Other counties like Bergen, Essex, and Hudson had just a handful of new cases according to the dashboard. Do you think it’s likely that those low numbers are due to the issue with Quest? But even if they are, those numbers and hospitalizations have dropped pretty dramatically? Can you say what it will take for you to decide to allow indoor dining? Are you separating the positive cases and deaths from nursing homes and the general public to get a more detailed look and to better inform your reopening decisions? And then, even though it seems obvious considering just define what active outbreaks at long-term facilities means on the dashboard?
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you. You won’t probably be surprised by this but on your first question, we’re going to have no comment on that. We’ll leave it at that, other than we pray for the family and it’s yet another example of gun violence that even though we’re probably in as good a shape in terms of gun safety as any American state, just goes to show you, it’s still out there and at times an awful thing like this happens.
Judy, I think I’m going to turn to you on the others in terms of you mentioned Monmouth, Bergen and Hudson are showing low numbers on both deaths and positive cases, is that possibly due to Quest? I think it’s probably partly but it’s also progress that’s been made in those counties. To what extent can we break out, as we do, and I think you’ve the long-term care numbers. You asked about when we can take next steps, although we’ve taken a step today, which is outdoor, heavy-contact sports. You know, if the averages, the rolling seven-day averages, we’ve got to make sure our data is right. But rolling seven-day averages show us convincingly that our numbers are in a good place, that the travel advisory, that we’re convinced is really working and that people are, as we think they are, by the way, taking our strong request for further personal responsibility. Judy’s mentioned the technology survey, you know the extent to which we feel good about where that stands.
I just want to give a shout out to the outdoor dining creativity and the extraordinary steps. I was in Red Bank Friday night at a restaurant, Char, the streets open for a big long block and there are a number of restaurants out there. You felt like you were in some European capital or some European city and then Saturday night, at Charlie’s in Bayhead again, really creative not on the street but they’ve done an incredible job both including under their building where they’ve got three-sided openings and exposure, really impressive.
And then Judy, active outbreaks, how do you define that? I’ve got Monmouth, Bergen and Hudson are down is that Quest? Probably partly. Breaking out long-term care, anything you want to add on what we need to see in terms of data. And lastly, how you’re defining active outbreaks?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: First of all, we do believe that the overall case rates are down significantly throughout all of New Jersey and that’s why we want to keep social distancing, handwashing, masks, all the things that we preach about every day active and be vigilant, because we are seeing great results by the compliance that we’re experiencing. I’ll let Ed talk about the dashboard and what we mean by active, I can tell you that we look at every single case in long-term care every single day, and we receive a line listing. And we do separate out deaths and cases and outbreaks. I get a report at the end of every day if there is an outbreak, and correct me if I’m wrong, defined as one new case in long-term care by an employee or a resident. I’ll let Ed talk about the dashboard, because we did make some changes.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: And that’s correct. An outbreak is now defined as a single confirmed case of COVID in an employee or a resident. We use the standard length of time that CDC uses for deciding when outbreak is over, and that is two incubation periods. In this case, incubation period is 14 days, so an outbreak is considered active until at least 28 days have gone without any new cases.
Governor Phil Murphy: Anything else that is open from Dustin’s questions? We good? Okay, thank you. Elise. Sorry, may I say other thing, Elise? I apologize. As a general matter when we look at other states that I mentioned, making sure we feel good about the quarantining, the self-quarantining and isolation, and whatnot, a couple of other things in terms of what would give us confidence. We’ve got to shrink, and our folks are spending a lot of time to shrink the turnaround time on testing. It’s way too long right now for too many, not just in New Jersey and America.
And secondly, the evidence continues to be overwhelming, that the spikes, the enormous spikes in other states of infections are from indoor activities. Those are just two realities. And the first one, I think we can work together to get progress. That’s a regular topic of conversation with the administration, with the White House directly. And on the second one, it’s just added proof that we know that’s where the biggest problems are. We’ll do everything we can, whenever it is we get there. We’ll get there, folks, that we do it as responsibly as we can. Sorry, Elise.
Elise Young, Bloomberg: Good afternoon. Governor, have you been in contact with the ratings companies about your borrowing and budget plans? And when can restaurants expect to open indoor dining? Are there any early indications that the numbers might be going in their favor? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you for both. On the former, our teams are regularly in touch with them and we respect their opinions and their input. That’s a regular dialogue. I have not sat with them, only because the budget that we ultimately put together was an interim budget. I would expect that once we have presented the full, what will now be a nine-month fiscal year budget, that I will personally sit with them, either in person or via some sort of virtual connection. But our teams are in regular contact with them.
I think that indoor dining I’ve hit that, so it’s going to be the basic seven-day averages, Judy, that you’re going to feel good about. That includes the stuff we really care about, rate of transmission, spot positivity, new hospitalizations. It’s going to be that we have a good degree of confidence that the self-quarantining and the survey app that you’ve put up is working. And so far we think so far, so good. That we, as I mentioned a minute ago, that we hopefully can shave some of the turnaround time on the testing. Some of the labs are quicker than others, I should say, so it’s not all the labs. And that hopefully we’re seeing combination of we’re convinced the self-quarantining is working and hopefully some dying down of the raging fires that we’re seeing in other states.
I think we generally know what it needs to look like in terms of capacity limits, social distancing, hygiene, etc. and restaurants have been crushed. But I will again want to give them a shout out for enormous creativity and just the way they’ve conducted themselves in the outdoor piece of this, and really doing that as well as anyone could have hoped. Is that fair on all? Okay, thank you. Sir.
Reporter: A couple for you, Governor, and then we have one for Colonel Callahan as well. The Trump Administration recently directed hospitals to cease sending COVID-19 data to the CDC and instead send it directly to the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors and medical experts have expressed concern about the transparency and access to the data moving forward. Does New Jersey have any plans to continue sending data to the CDC to try and circumvent the order? Are you concerned at all about access or transparency surrounding the data after this move?
Also, you’ve said that the Health Commissioner will, quote “Go after travelers from out of state who don’t comply with the quarantine advisory.” What actions would be taken? Could you be more specific? Has the Health Commissioner taken that action against any travelers from out of state so far? And is there any penalty for not filling out the traveler registration form, or is that also on the honor system?
And then the last question we have is for Colonel Callahan, are you concerned that State Police data shows traffic fatalities have returned to pre-pandemic levels, despite fewer cars on the road? And what could you attribute that to?
Governor Phil Murphy: I’ll start and Judy and Pat can come in, if that’s okay with you guys. I think, actually Dustin, you asked the question last week. I hadn’t heard it, I think it had just happened that day. I said at the time but I’m going to stand to be corrected that we’ve got nothing against HHS. In fact, guys like Admiral Brett Giroir has been a huge resource for us, Pat, Secretary Azar, etc. But I had hoped that we’d continue to send the data to the CDC and to the HHS crowd. I don’t see why we wouldn’t do both. But I’ll ask Judy to come in and correct the record.
Yeah, go after them, summons, direct edict, Matt Platkin is here. He can add to that. She has a lot of weapons that are disposal. I don’t know that you’ve gone after anybody yet over this? Judy is saying no. But we also, in fairness, we’re asking for personal responsibility. And as I mentioned a couple of times, we deliberately did the bully pulpit thing first, to try to pound away that message and then pieces, you know, the form is coming into place, the survey tool that Judy’s talked about today, and again, I’ll let her come in behind me. In fact, do you want to say anything else on that and then I’ll turn to Pat for traffic?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: On CDC and the HHS reform?
Governor Phil Murphy: And also any actions, I don’t think you’ve taken any actions against an out-of-state traveler.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I expect that we will report to both. We’ve done an analysis of the information that we currently report to CDC and that the hospitals currently give to the portal. And we found that compared to the HHS 95 requirements, 95 elements, there’s about 20 that we have in common, so we have to work with our hospitals to develop information through the portal, again, that they will be able to accumulate on a daily basis and report not only to CDC, but also to HHS. So it’s going to take us a little bit of time. The hospitals are doing a great job reporting but to add so many more elements, it’s going to take us a while, but we expect we’ll report to both.
There’s been no enforcement at this point in time. I would expect that we would follow perhaps similar to what New York is doing, but we would only do that if we find that personal accountability is not being upheld.
Governor Phil Murphy: Pat, do you want to comment on traffic fatalities?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Certainly and I haven’t had — I don’t have the year-to-date stats in front of me but I will just comment that speed and driver inattention are almost always at the top of the list. And with the lighter traffic for those that drove around the interstates, there was reports of troopers stopping cars and motorcycles doing 145 miles an hour. I think those two things, cellphone use and speed certainly two huge contributing factors to our fatalities.
Governor Phil Murphy: In fact, that was somewhat against expectation, right, that the traffic incidents went up with less vehicles, with fewer vehicles on the road. But for your very reason, it’s a lot more wide-open space if you want to put your foot on the gas, right?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: That’s right.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you. Sir, anything for you? Okay. We’ll go back and come down, if that’s all right.
Reporter: Good afternoon, Governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: Good afternoon.
Reporter: One question for each of you. For Dr. Lifshitz, New York recently made a big deal out of having what they called a zero fatality COVID day. Do you believe New Jersey has or will have a day where nobody dies of COVID-19 related causes?
For the Commissioner, I wanted to ask about that Quest outage. Is it all of Quest or just one lab? And how big a bite is that taking out of the numbers? Do you have a percentage that you could tell us?
For the Governor, I wanted to see if you saw any of the pictures or video from over the weekend of large crowds at beaches, including lots of people not wearing masks? Is that something that concerns you? Or is it to be expected on an incredibly hot weekend?
And for Colonel Callahan, if you can tell us if any State Police assets are assisting the FBI in the investigation into the shooting at Judge Salas’ home, and can you tell us if anything has been ruled out? Not ruled in, have you ruled out a connection to terrorism? Have they ruled out a connection to organized crime or anything like that?
Governor Phil Murphy: I’m going to help Pat out on both. I’ll do both of the last two, if that’s all right. We’re not going to comment on anything to do with that case, other than to say our thoughts, prayers, sympathies are with the family. And let’s remember that gun safety continues to be still an elusive quest.
Yeah, the beaches you could certainly look, the weather was crazy hot. We want folks to wear face coverings, again, when social distancing not we want to – we’re telling people to wear them when social distancing is not achievable. I was up close and personal in both Seaside Park and Seaside Heights. My bigger concern is not what I see on the beach. And by the way, a lot of those photographs, in fairness, are taken at angles like this that make it look even more crowded than it in fact is, or versus a drone shot could give you.
My bigger concern is people jammed up waiting to go in to get a slice of pizza, waiting to go to the restrooms, although the restrooms there, they police them pretty aggressively with face coverings. That’s really where my outdoor concern is, that you’re on top of each other. And again, not in your own bubble. So I’m not talking about you’re on top of your wife, your brother, your kid, your father, I’m talking about when you’re in line and you’re on top of people who are not in your family or in the posse that you’ve been hanging with. That’s the concern I would have. Ed, do you want to start down there on the first question, and then Judy, in terms of both zero fatality and then Quest?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: I can actually answer both of those, and starting with the Quest question. Obviously, we don’t know exactly what the impact is going to be because we don’t know what the positives are, but we have a general idea of the ballpark. It seems that they’re holding up total reports of about 15,000 test results. If you assume that the positivity is about where we’ve been, at about 2% to 3% or so, then you’re talking about somewhere between 250 to 400 or so positive case results is about what I’d expect to be added to these numbers in the next couple of days. But we’ll see that, of course, when it comes to it.
As far as the question related to deaths, the first and most important thing to know is how the deaths are being reported. What we’re doing, it has been mentioned several times, is reporting the deaths by date of report. That doesn’t mean that those people died in the last 24 hours. In fact, many of them and an increasing number as we go forward haven’t died in the past 24 hours. They are being added back in. And in the past, we’ve talked about some of the reasons that that has happened. One of the things that I like to try to do is encourage people to look on our website where we have what we call an EPI curve that looks like this, exactly like this, every day that talks about deaths by date of illness onset or date of death, which gives you a more accurate assessment of what’s really happening, than by the date of report.
So do I think that we’ll get there? Yes. I think that we’ll get there. Every day we’re reporting, almost every day, we’re certainly reporting fewer and fewer numbers. We see that in the hospital deaths. We see that in decreased number of long-term care facility deaths and outbreaks. So, you know, we’re clearly still too many, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Governor Phil Murphy: Anything else on Quest or you’re good with both? I will say as a non-medical expert, the answer is yes. We will have one of those days. We just can’t tell you when. Please, God. Thank you. Dante, you okay? Good afternoon.
Reporter: Hi, Governor. What will happen to New Jersey’s finances and services if the state doesn’t get money from the next Federal Stimulus Act? And you’ve said New Jersey needs anywhere between $20 billion to $30 billion in assistance from the feds, but your office has not provided a breakdown with any specifics of how you arrived at this figure. Can you explain how you came up with this number? And will you release an analysis regarding this calculation?
And then finally, you’ve alluded to raising the millionaire’s tax in the nine-month budget. Just to be clear, are you raising, increasing the tax rate on millionaires? Given the state’s need for revenue, why not commit to it now? What’s still up for discussion?
Governor Phil Murphy: So what will happen to our finances and services in the absence of federal stimulus, it’s not a good result. I signed the law to be able to borrow because of a historically unprecedented fiscal crisis. Again, the only periods, when you start comparing to the Great Depression of the Late ’20s and ’30s or the Civil War, you know, you’re in unchartered territory. And we’ve also said all along that the borrowing alone, even that is not sufficient. That this is not an either/or, it’s an and/both and it remains so. So I would just hope. I mean, this is the moment right now for the federal – the Congress, the next sort of three weeks is do or die. And I can’t tell you exactly what happens to our services or our finances without that federal cash, but it’s ugly. And so we need both the borrowing and we need the federal support.
I mean, the analysis is not that complicated and it’s by nature you’re trying to project in the number of 20 or more billion, for me at least, was from mid this year, mid-2020 through the end of calendar year 2021. So the $20 billion to $30 billion number was in that period. And all it was is simply taking what expenses we expected were going to be rising, and more importantly or more acutely, the revenues that were falling off and continue to fall off a cliff.
I think you’ll see a version of this, we’re only a few weeks away, I’ve got to present a budget by August 25th, you’re going to see a big semblance of that analysis in a very comprehensive budget that I’m going to propose in a few weeks. And so that’s the best window of the so-called analysis. And I’m always happy to project at least some amount of conjecture of what it looks like for the back end of 2021, but we’ll at least give a picture as the best we think through the middle of next year. Yeah, I would just say that we haven’t come up with a budget yet as it relates to revenue items, so we’re working on that. We’ve had good early, very general preliminary interactions with the leadership in both chambers in the Legislature, and I thank them for that. But we are in the process in our own shop with Treasury taking the lead, as they always do, putting the budget together. And when we have something to say, we will say it and hopefully we’ll have a process that is a smooth one. And again, I’ve no expectation otherwise, because the early vibrations have been really good with the Legislature to get there. And that will include whatever revenues that ultimately are part of the budget. Thank you. Matt.
Matt Arco, Star-Ledger: Governor, you said that you’re going to give students the option for remote learning and that will be rolled out later this week. And presumably, that’s because parents or students are concerned about going back to school and getting sick. I’m curious if there’ll be any similar protections for staff and teachers in what’s going to be announced later this week, to give them the option not to return to the classroom?
And also, I’m just curious what you make of the President’s citing that there was only one death and there are actually two, of people under the age of 18 in New Jersey as a reason that schools should be opening up. How do you respond to the President’s comments over the weekend?
Governor Phil Murphy: Matt, on the first one, can you bear with me in terms of just, we’re still putting this together, but this will be as a general matter, this is going to be focused on kids and parents. Matt Platkin will correct me if I’m wrong here. One of the aspirations put forward by educators has been less density in the classrooms and some capacity limitations. And again, I don’t want to predict where we’re going to come out on the kids’ remote learning options later this week. But if kids are remote learning, that is indirectly addressing capacity and density in the classroom. But beyond that, if you could bear with us.
I did not see the President say that but I heard he said that, this was an interview with Chris Wallace. I read several other highlights related to that, but I did not read that. I would say any loss of life is an extraordinary tragedy, but especially of a young person, and we do, in fact, have two fatalities under the age of 18. Judy will remind us each of those blessed cases included significant comorbidities for those kids. And, you know, again, any loss of life is a tragedy, and we care about each and every one of them, but to have only two losses of life under the age of 18 is quite striking. It’s a point that we’ve made pretty frequently.
The problem I have, and I say this with all due respect to the President. The problem is there’s too little known, and I think this is a broad, and if Judy and Ed see this differently they won’t hesitate to come in. What is unspoken in that statistic is the extent to which there is transmission of the virus, including from the asymptomatic young kids, potentially. We’ve said that many times, Judy and Ed, that the biggest, the toughest nut to crack in my humble opinion, and I’m not the expert, is the passing of the virus from the asymptomatic, young, healthy kid to someone who’s older, someone who may have comorbidities or just is more vulnerable. And so that’s the important caveat I would put on that number. We mourn the loss of those two lives, but overwhelmingly, that jumps out at you that only two lives have been lost. But we continue to be concerned about transmission of the virus, and that is a big concern of ours. Is that fair to say? I’ll take the lack of jumping in as assent to the point.
So with that Judy, I’m going to put my mask on here. Thank you all. Thank you, Judy and Ed, Pat, Jared, Matt, Mahen, the whole team, Dante, hello. Again, we’ll be with you virtually tomorrow unless you hear otherwise. We’ll be here one o’clock Wednesday unless you hear otherwise. As I said, I hope by the end of the week we’ll have more color on education. Again, having sat through yet another long meeting Friday afternoon, this has got a lot of moving parts. And so this is as complex a step, Judy, as I think we’re going to take.
Thank you folks for doing everything you’re doing. To both Dustin’s and Elise’s question, the extent to which we can get those absolutely conclusive seven-day averages on rate of transmission, spot positivity, new hospitalizations, that we get a firm sense — and so far, so good — that folks are doing the right thing when they’re returning from other states. That the testing, that the country, not New Jersey, although certainly New Jersey, that we as a nation crack the back of the testing turnaround time, again some labs better than others, and that we hopefully see these fires begin to diminish somewhat nationally. All of the above gives us the confidence we’re going to need to keep taking steps. I’m glad we’re doing the heavy contact outdoor sports today. We want to take the steps, believe me. We want to get indoors, whether it’s a restaurant or a gym or a theater. We will get there. We’re just not there yet. But if you folks keep up the extraordinary work, we’ll get there sooner than later. Thank you all. God bless.