BLACKWOOD, NJ — Gov. Phil Murphy abruptly left a press briefing Wednesday in Blackwood after learning that someone who he was in close proximity to on Saturday has tested positive for COVID-19.
It is unclear how many people the governor exposed over the weekend. Murphy, 63, was at a briefing set up outside the student center of Camden County College (CCC) to announce $14 million in funding for workforce development.
Twenty minutes into the event a staff member informed him of the news.
"I [got] tested on Monday unrelated to my being in proximity - because I had no idea until just five minutes ago - and it was negative on Monday. I will now unfortunately have to take myself off the field," Murphy said at the mic.
Murphy's team said they intend to issue a statement later Wednesday.
A little after 11:30 a.m. Murphy stood near Camden County Freeholder Jonathan Young, Congressman Donald Norcross, Department of Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo and others - all wearing face masks and social distancing - prior to the start of the briefing. He elbowed, instead of shook hands with, Norcross and other speakers before learning of his exposure.
The governor did not say how long he would quarantine - but noted that his negative test Monday doesn't necessarily mean he does not have the virus. He said he had no symptoms and would get tested again Wednesday.
"I can’t ask President Trump not to come to Bedminster and do a fundraiser and have me sit here," Murphy said.
Earlier this month, Murphy criticized President Trump and staff for a visiting New Jersey despite a top aide testing positive for the coronavirus.
On March 4, Murphy had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from one of his kidneys. Roughly a month later one of his own aides, Matt Plakin, tested positive for the virus. He quarantined at home prior to confirming his positive test.
“There’s a first every day in this job,” said Asaro-Angelo after Murphy took his leave. “Governor, I hope you’re OK.”
After discussing the new funding and before walking away with staff, Murphy touched on the fact that the pandemic remains a stark reality in the state of 9 million. As of Wednesday, the state has confirmed 222,223 positive cases, 14,456 confirmed deaths and another 1,789 "probable" deaths.