Gov. Phil Murphy, who appeared on two national news shows this morning, revealed that he has had “intense” discussions this weekend with leaders of surrounding states about how to “reopen” New Jersey and the region.
Murphy told CBS’s Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” that he is seeking a regional approach when it comes time to roll back social distancing orders meant to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and return to some semblance of normalcy.
“It’s still an early stage, partly because the house is still on fire and job No. 1 is to put the fire out in the house,” he said, “but we have begun rather intense, this weekend, discussions with our neighboring states on the whole question of testing, contact tracing, what are the rules of the road going to be for things like bars and restaurants to make sure we don't have unintended consequences on one side of the river versus the other.”
Murphy formed an alliance with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Connecitcut Gov. Ned Lamont and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf last month when they asked $100 billion in federal aid to help fund the COVID-19 outbreak in the hardest-hit area of the country.
The latest numbers on this Easter Sunday show that some 58,000 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID-19. The death toll is at 2,183.
Although Murphy is starting to glimpse how New Jersey could go about reopening, he offered a tepid response earlier Sunday morning when asked by Jake Dapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” about President Trump’s timeline.
In response to the question about the Trump White House’s call to reopen the U.S. economy and relax social distancing guidelines May 1, Murphy said the focus is on a health recovery first, a financial recovery second.
“I fear if we open up too early and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently,” Murphy said. “So, listen, I will be the happiest guy around if we're able to reopen at that point.”
Murphy was equally cautious when asked about one White House COVID-19 Task Force model that suggests New Jersey hit its COVID-19 case peak Wednesday.
“Yes and no,” he said. “I mean, we have lost 2,183 blessed souls from our state, which is just staggering. We look at a handful, probably four or five different models. Some of the -- some of those models, in their best- case scenarios, have us in a peak right now. Some of them, in a more sobering reality, have us peaking many weeks from now at higher numbers.”
Although it was a busy morning for Murphy as he continued his almost daily appearances on national TV news programs, he took time on social media to deliver an Easter message.
“Wishing a happy and joyous Easter to all who celebrate, from my family to yours,” he posted on Twitter. “On this day devoted to love and renewed hope, we hold our frontline heroes close to our hearts and remember the sacrifices they are making for us.”
He also released a light-hearted video in which he’s seen hopping around his living room like the Easter Bunny. First Lady Tammy Murphy appears dressed in a bunny outfit.