New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled a six-point plan Monday to begin reopening the state’s economy even as the coronavirus outbreak persists.
The first-term Democratic governor projected optimism but cautioned that the state is not ready to end its stay-at-home order or quit the weeks-long social distancing guidelines that have hobbled the economy.
“We will move as quickly as we can, but as safely as we must,” Murphy said.
Murphy also announced Monday at a news conference that the positive cases reached 111,000, with the death toll climbing by 106 people to 6,044.
The six-part plan consists of four steps that must be completed first, the governor said:
— Sustaining downward trends in new COVID-19 cases and other metrics.
— Expanding testing capacity.
— Boosting contact tracing.
— Ensuring safe places for residents with the virus to isolate.
The next two steps, he said, are:
— Restarting the economy “responsibly.”
— Ensuring resiliency.
Murphy didn’t provide a timeline but said he is seeking trend lines to show decreases over 14 days. He cautioned against using just one day or a “snapshot” in time as a basis for reopening.
The state is also working toward doubling its testing capacity by the end of May, Murphy said.
New Jersey will “merge” its response with the neighboring states, Murphy said. That means sharing information and making decisions based on public health officials’ advice, according to the governor.
Later Monday, Murphy announced he was easing restrictions on some businesses. Pet grooming, day care and boarding services and businesses that sell items necessary for religious services will now be considered essential, and allowed to remain open with proper social distancing and hygienic practices.
Also, car dealerships can allow customers who have bought a vehicle online to do a test drive before delivery or at the time of pickup, provided that social distancing guidelines are followed and the dealership sanitizes the vehicle if the customer doesn’t buy it.
Personal-care-service providers, such as hair or nail stylists, are prohibited from providing services in their homes or others’ unless they share a family or close personal relationship, according to Monday’s announcement.
In addition to the new cases and rising death toll, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and Murphy said there were 314 newly hospitalized patients, with 480 people discharged from hospitals. There are a total of about 6,400 people in the hospital.
The number of people in intensive care has fallen 9% to about 1,800 compared with last week. The number of people on ventilators also sank, by 18% since last week, to 1,300.
The state’s four field hospitals, which treat people for non-coronavirus sicknesses, currently have 75 patients, and have treated 346 people overall.