Governor Phil Murphy: Good afternoon. Sorry to be a couple of minutes behind. With me today to my right, the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli; Judy. To her right, the Department of Health's Communicable Disease Service Medical Director, Dr. Ed Lifshitz, great to have you with us, Ed, and Ed will be speaking today. We'll get to that in a few moments. Obviously another familiar face, the guy to my left who needs no introduction, the Superintendent of the State Police, Colonel Pat Callahan. Jared Maples is with us, Director of Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. Good afternoon, everyone.
As a planning note tomorrow, and we will be with you at one o'clock tomorrow as well unless you hear otherwise, but I think it's highly likely it's one o'clock, we will be joined by Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet, who will discuss the guidance that the department will be releasing regarding the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. This guidance has been in the works for weeks, and will take into account the many differences which exist among our schools and education communities, whether they be geographic, demographic, or economic, and acknowledge that there is no one size fits all guidance that can be applied to every school in every district. While this guidance will have clear standards to be followed in every district to ensure the safety of everyone in our school facilities, individual district superintendents and boards of education, working with their school communities, will be given flexibility to ensure an implementation strategy that best works for their specific needs, and which recognizes and respects the unique characteristics of each of our districts. So again, tomorrow we will have more on this. Needless to say, Judy and her team have been deeply involved. This is not just the Department of Education. As you can imagine, the Department of Health is inexorably involved in this guidance.
Back to the here and now, today the Department of Labor released the latest figures on unemployment, reporting that the department received 33,000 new – initial, rather -- claims last week, while also sending out just shy of $1 billion in benefits. This brings the department's totals for the duration of this pandemic to date to nearly 1.3 million total claims, and $8.2 billion in total benefits paid. And I might add that 96% of all who have been deemed eligible have received at least one payment.
As Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo has noted, many of the calls coming into the department's new call center can be traced to very specific and individualized issues. This is a point that I've made on a number of occasions as well, including delays of the department receiving federally required records from other states, or because a claimant is waiting in a determination on a prior appeal. However, because this new call center is now up and running, those more complex cases can be quickly routed back through the department's experienced staff to be expedited.
Even with this shift in volume to the call center, we understand that some residents still are experiencing wait times and for that, we urge your continued patience. We completely respect your frustration, but please bear with us. As we've said many times before, no one -- not just here in New Jersey, I might add, but in every state -- could anticipate the onslaught of claims that have come in over the past three months, and no one had ever experienced this type of overwhelming volume.
This has been in every sense unprecedented, and I thank the Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo and his team, especially the women and men on the frontlines answering the phones and working hard to get answers, for everything they are doing to ensure that every eligible claim is paid out in full to our deserving workers and their families, every single penny.
I had, as I had previewed, a frank I would say, civil but frank, conversation with Dave Williams this morning, the Chief Operating Officer of the United States Postal Service, and went through the fact that we're still hearing too many anecdotal pieces of information about whether it be ballots that are piled up in a lobby of an apartment building or in some cases, I know at least in Atlantic and Monmouth County, I think there's a third one as well, where there's a transposing of sender addresses versus receiver addresses, and things going back. I asked him about their training protocols, including for the temporary workforce, where they were on manpower relative to where we had seen them in the May 12 local and boards of education elections. We have asked that we're going to send, if we hear incidences that are of note, we're going to send them, literally directly to him, not just to the regional team. We need them punching at their weight, fully at their weight.
The good news is, frankly because of so much of what we've done with breaking the back of the virus, their manpower numbers are dramatically stronger than they were during that May 12th. It's feels like a million years ago, during the May 12th local and boards of education elections. By the way, they're getting crushed in places like Florida, Oklahoma -- he mentioned Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas right now in their workforce. But that's not an issue, thank God, in New Jersey, and that's something that we're going to continue. The Postal Service's performance is something we're going to continue to stay close to.
Before we get to the overnight numbers, I want to spend a moment discussing another number that is critically important to our state's future and that is the 2020 census. As of this week, 63.6% of New Jersey households have responded to the census either online or over the phone. We continue to run ahead of the national response rate, but we cannot let up until we have a 100% response rate. The census is absolutely critical to ensuring New Jersey gets its fair share back from Washington for education, for human services and nutrition programs, for transportation, for our healthcare networks, and for many other areas which will be critical to our recovery from COVID-19. Every New Jerseyan who isn't counted is essentially money that doesn't come back to New Jersey, and instead heads to some other state. And we all know that we were dramatically undercounted in 2010, and we continue to pay an enormous price for that. So let's make sure we keep all that is rightfully ours here.
Over the past several weeks, our census team at the Department of State has been ramping up its community-based information efforts, urging those residents who have yet to be counted to get counted, and those efforts will continue in advance of the Census Bureau's initiation of going door to door to those residences which do not respond in advance. In other words, if you fill it out online today, you won't get a knock on the door in the weeks ahead. The urgency to fill out the census couldn't be greater and the time to do it is right now. Assemblywoman, a dear friend, Yvonne Lopez and I were back and forth yesterday bemoaning the fact that while our numbers are getting better, they're still not 100%, and we've got to get them up to 100%.
So folks, make sure you're counted by going to 2020census.gov then make sure your family and friends do the same. And online, you can find guides narrated in 59 additional languages -- that's right, 59 -- about how to fill out the census. No one should be left uncounted. Let's make sure that we have an accurate count. The Census only happens once every 10 years and if we are undercounted again, as we were in 2010, we will lose out for the next decade. Let's make sure we don't miss out on the ability to craft a better future for our state.
With that, let's go to the overnight numbers. Yesterday, we received an additional 406 positive tests, pushing the statewide total over 170,000. The daily positivity rate was up a bit, Judy, to 3.65%. I know you'll go through the regionals. And those are for tests that were recorded on June 21st. Rate of transmission was 0.88. Again, good news below one, up slightly. Over the past week, the rate of transmission has increased in 16 of our counties, with six counties now recording rates of transmission at least 50% greater than they were last Wednesday.
Remember, daily positivity and rate of transmission, I would say along with new hospitalizations, Judy, I think we'd agree with that, are the greatest indicators of COVID-19 spread in the here and now. And we have done, and you all have done, extraordinary work to push these numbers down to where we are now able to get our restart and recovery moving, but we cannot let up, even for one day, with our social distancing. We need you to ask to wear these face coverings and wear them properly. Wash your hands with soap and water. If you don't feel well, stay away from other people.
And everyone should go out and get tested. If you were at a crowded bar or restaurant, you should get tested. If you were at a protest, go get tested. Everyone should know if they are carrying the coronavirus. And as Judy pointed out the other day, we are seeing an alarming increase in the number of younger residents testing positive. Folks who, I think, feel that they may be invincible, so be careful of that. And that means that where there are others who are unknowingly, by the way, carrying the virus and who are at risk of spreading it to others.
There are now more than 250 locations across New Jersey to get a COVID-19 test and I urge you, Judy, Ed, Pat, all of us urge you to go out, go to covid19.nj.gov/testing to find a location near you, then go there and get tested. Testing leads to better data, and with that better data, we can now know when we're comfortable not just passing through stage two, but beginning in stage three of our recovery.
In our hospitals, as of last night's report, we had 1,182 patients with COVID-19 complications. The number of patients requiring intensive or critical care decreased to 252. The number of ventilators in use also decreased to 210. There were 56 new admissions of COVID-positive cases yesterday in our hospitals, while 108 live patients left our hospitals.
Tracking these numbers over the past couple of weeks to reveal the overall trends shows that with regard to the key metrics we follow, we remain in a place where we feel comfortable continuing with stage two of our restart, and we continue to see our standing improve among all other states, especially as it relates to new cases. But we need to get our ranking in both hospitalizations and fatalities down, and the only way we can do that is by remaining vigilant and taking personal responsibility for the overall health of our communities.
Today we are reporting an additional 26 lost brothers and sisters from our New Jersey community to COVID-19 confirmed positive results, and that total is now 13,018, an almost unfathomable number. And today, for the first time, we are reporting 1,854 probable COVID-19 deaths since this emergency began. With these numbers, the total currently known loss from confirmed and probable deaths from COVID-19 among our residents is now 14,872. I mentioned that Ed is going to speak after Judy today, and it's on this topic. I mentioned last week that he and his team at the Communicable Disease Service have been taking great care in examining thousands of death certificates to identify residents whose passing could, with great reliability, be attributed to COVID-19.
We know that there are those upon whom a COVID-19 test was never performed, even though the underlying symptoms and causes of death point to the probability that they did in fact have COVID-19. And I have asked Ed to walk us through the process that he and his colleagues followed and how these determinations were made.
Given our current testing protocols and decreasing number of fatalities overall, please God that continues, we do not anticipate that this number will grow significantly. However, some changes are to be expected and we will be reporting on the number of probable deaths every week; and on our dashboard and other documents, we will report these numbers separately, but they represent the toll this pandemic has had on our New Jersey family. We're not the only state which has been grappling with how best to draw a complete picture of COVID-19's impact and in one day, we are significantly adding to the already weighty toll this pandemic has had on our state, and on so many families. And as I noted, we report this out of nothing else than a solemn sense of duty.
For many families, we hope these determinations will provide a sense of closure and of finally knowing. And for our state, I hope it steels our resolve to do all that we can to save every single life that we can save. And as we do every day, let's remember a few of these blessed members of our New Jersey family who have left us.
I want to begin today in Elmwood Park in Bergen County, to remember Jaime Pertuz. Jaime was 78 years old. Jaime was born in Colombia, and came to the United States in 1962 with the same goal as millions of our fellow Americans: for a better life, for better opportunity, and to live the American dream. He lived that dream across a 35-year career as an auto mechanic, where his work ethic and good nature not only made him a role model to his colleagues, but also because the basic values he instilled in his own children. And they have lived those values too, with one of his sons finding his own success in business, and two others who graduated from college and received their degrees in social work and the law, respectively.
Jaime was at his happiest, though, when surrounded by his family and enjoying the outdoors, gardening, feeding his birds and listening to his favorite salsa or classical music. Everyone felt his tremendous presence. Jaime leaves behind his wife of 52 years Marlene, and by the way, Marlene was struck hard by COVID-19. She spent a long time in the intensive care unit and she, as we speak today, is still in rehab. He also leaves behind his son, Jaime who lives in Brooklyn, and his son Steven who's in Bergen County, with whom I had the great honor of speaking yesterday. His third son, Giovanni, tragically passed two years ago. Jaime also leaves behind his grandchildren, Matthew, Nicole, Maximo and Sebastian, and nine surviving siblings. We were honored to have you in our New Jersey family, Jaime, and to you and your family, God bless you and watch over you.
Next we head to Bloomfield, in Essex County. This is where George and Jina Sisnero called home, and we've lost both of them to COVID-19. Both George and Jina were born in the Philippines where they were married, and they moved to New Jersey together. Both of them, by the way, were registered nurses, Judy, and both were among our many frontline healthcare heroes. George was a tremendous and treasured member of the University Hospital family for more than 30 years, where he was both a full-time medical surgical nurse. Jina specialized in caring for patients living with Alzheimer's disease, and most recently was working with residents at the Brookhaven Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare.
They both care deeply for the patients in their care and for their colleagues, and they also share their love of helping others with their son George Jr., with whom I had the great honor of speaking yesterday. George today works as a nurse in Florida. He's still in New Jersey, tying up the affairs of his mom and dad, and we pray, by the way, for his good health and safety, given the challenges that not only face New Jersey, but are now facing Florida.
George and Jina were only 63 and 62 years old respectively. They had so much more to give. We thank them for their decades of service to the health and wellness of New Jersey and may they both be remembered, and may God watch over them and bless each of them and their son.
Three more beloved members of our New Jersey family, three from among the combined total of now 14,872 we know or presume we have lost to COVID-19. So for them, we cannot let up. We have to keep working hard, if not harder than ever, to keep COVID-19 numbers down and I know we can do it, I know you can do it because you've been doing it, and you continue to do it.
Before I end on a high note, a non-COVID fatality overnight, Eddie Kasko, I mentioned Jim Kiick a few days ago. Eddie Kasko's other sports hero from our New Jersey family, again non-COVID, just shy of his 89th birthday. Born in Elizabeth, graduate of Linden High School, signed with the New York Baseball Giants at that point, served in the Korean War in the army as a veteran. Ultimately managed the dreaded Boston Red Sox but was fired. Ed became one of their chief scouts and among other badges of honor, scouted and found both Roger Clemens and Mo Vaughn, so to you Yankees and Mets fans, there is some symmetry and peace, even though he managed for the Evil Empire up north.
Let's end, finally, on a high note. Let's meet Ryan Lockard from my home county, Monmouth County. Ryan just graduated from Freehold Township High School. It won't surprise you, given that photo, how striking that is, that photography is Ryan's passion. And throughout this pandemic, he's taken his camera with him throughout his community, taking pictures of the many families who have been gathering on their front porches. His porch portraits have become a sensation in and of themselves, so he began selling them with all of the proceeds going to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. Now with nearly $550 raised and donated. And Ryan just announced that he'll be attending Long Island University next year as a Dean's Scholar with a full scholarship. Just more proof that our young people are among the very top in the entire nation. So to you, Ryan, not only thank you, but congratulations.
With that, please help me welcome the woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Thank you, Governor and good afternoon. This morning I spoke with the Commissioners of Health for Connecticut and New York, to develop a coordinated guidance on our joint incoming travel advisory for individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19. As announced yesterday, individuals traveling to New Jersey from these states are advised to voluntarily self-quarantine for 14 days. This includes New Jersey residents who may be returning.
The advisory applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. Regardless of whether they are New Jersey or out-of-state residents, workers from impacted states traveling to New Jersey, who work in critical infrastructure, are essential positions as designated by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, are exempted from the quarantine advisory. This includes truckers and other workers in the transportation industry.
We know there are a lot of questions about the advisory. Currently, there are nine states that meet this criteria: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. The list of states is fluid and will be updated weekly. New Jersey is relying on individuals to do the right thing and self-quarantine upon arrival. Although this is voluntary, we do expect compliance. If these individuals get tested when they arrive in New Jersey, they should self-quarantine until they receive the test results. If they test positive, they should self-isolate for 10 days and at least three days after any fever is resolved. If the individual needs medical care, of course, they should leave their quarantine to visit a healthcare provider.
If residents need support services during this time, they should contact the local health department or call NJ211. We will post a list of states that the travel advisory applies to weekly, and we are in the process of preparing public awareness materials and a frequently asked questions document to help answer the questions the public might have.
Moving on to my daily report, our hospitals, as the Governor shared, reported 1,182 hospitalizations with 252 individuals in critical care, 83% of them on ventilators. There is one new case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children for a total of 45 cases in our state. The children affected have either tested positive for active COVID-19 infection, or had antibody tests that were positive, or had a recent exposure to the virus. Fortunately, in New Jersey, there are no deaths reported at this time. The ages of the children affected range from 1 to 18. Five of the children are currently hospitalized. The breakdown of race and ethnicity of these cases is White 18%, Black 33%, Hispanic 36%, Asian 8%, and other 5%.
The Governor review the new cases and deaths reported today. In terms of deaths, the breakdown of race and ethnicity is White 54%, Black 18.3%, Hispanic 20.3%, Asian 5.6%, and other 1.7%. At the state veterans homes, the numbers remain the same, as they do at our psychiatric hospitals.
The daily percent positivity rate has increased slightly to 3.65%. The Northern region, as of June 21, is reporting 2.26%, the Central region 3.85%, and the southern region 5.39%. Daily positivity is based on specimens collected on Sunday, which typically have a lower testing volume than other days; when the number of tests performed is low, there is greater variability in the present positivity. That concludes my report. Stay connected, stay safe, stay healthy, get tested. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, thank you for all of that and again, we've said it now probably scores, if not hundreds of times. COVID-19 did not create the inequities, particularly along racial lines in this state, but it certainly has laid them bare and we must not see this again. I mentioned earlier the process that Ed and his team have gone through to come up very carefully and with a solemn sense of responsibility to come up with what they believe is a list of probable, not lab-confirmed, but probable fatalities from COVID-19 and Ed, I wondered if we can ask you to give us a sense of how that process looked. And again, thank you for all your work.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Thank you, Governor and yes, I do think we have a solemn sense of responsibility and we certainly feel that. We do believe that it is important to provide accurate information to the residents of New Jersey, and that those residents have a right to know and understand about what is happening in their state. And while we know that will provide little solace to family members, we also believe that knowing that we do every effort that we can to count their loved ones who have died, is at least some little help.
So what are we doing here? Basically, what we've been doing all along is we've been providing you with what's known as confirmed deaths. These are relatively straightforward. These are people who tested positive for COVID using a very specific test such as that common PCR that you hear about and have been known to have died.
Today, we're reporting out probable deaths. Probable deaths actually make up three different groups of people and very briefly, and slightly simplifying, it comes down to this: one group of people are those people who may have died and had a less specific test done, and so we're not quite sure in that test. They died. We think it's probably related to COVID, but we can't say for sure. That's a very small number of people at this point.
A much larger group of people are those people who have died as part of known outbreaks, most commonly, although not exclusively in long-term care facilities, who had symptoms that were suggestive of COVID but never got tested. That was particularly common earlier in the outbreak when testing was difficult, and it often was impossible to test everybody.
The third group that we find are those people that we pick up just through looking through death certificates. When someone dies, a physician writes on the death certificate various causes of death, and those are searched to see if any of those match COVID in them. Because we don't know very much about that patient, we don't know whether they had symptoms, we don't know anything else about them besides the fact that the death certificate says that COVID was involved, those are also counted as probable deaths.
How do we go about this? How do we do an investigation? How do we come to that? Well, the most common way, and the way that it's been working for outbreaks for years and years, whether it be Hepatitis A or measles or any bunch of other outbreaks there, is an investigation is done by the local health department. The local health departments are the boots on the ground, they are the people who do these investigations, and they've been working very hard through this entire pandemic. They go out, they do an investigation, and if they determined that the death in this case related to COVID happened, then that gets entered into our system as a confirmed COVID death, assuming that person had that positive test that we talked about. That happens relatively quickly. It's still not instantaneous, because that investigation has to happen, but it's a relatively fast way of finding out about these deaths.
The slower way, and the way that we're hearing about more at this point, is through that death certificate process that I mentioned. And what happens there is after somebody dies, a physician has to certify a cause of death. We have thousands of physicians in the state. Sometimes that happens faster and more accurately than others; sometimes that information has to be cleaned up. Sometimes it's not clear. That information then has to be checked against the other information that we have in our system to see if we already know about this person, in which case the death would be confirmed because they already had a positive test or not. And that's a slow process. And that's the process has taken us, really, months to catch up on although at this point, we're essentially caught up as far as those results go at this point.
So what we're reporting out today is a number that is going to vary. This is not a static number. Some of those people who we're now calling probable, further investigation might show that they're in fact confirmed. More people will be added to this probable list as time goes on, but we're not expecting these huge jumps, the thousands of people reported all at once. And because this is a slow process and because it does take time for us to go ahead and confirm, and because we don't expect this number to change rapidly, these are numbers that we're going to be reporting out once a week.
Finally, we know that there's a lot of interest in these numbers, and deservedly so. It certainly tells you a lot about what's been going on in the state. As the Governor has mentioned, we made no claim that we can possibly count every single person who's been affected or every single person who's died, but we do do our best to get the numbers out there as accurately as we can. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Ed, thank you. You said it and I said it, it's a solemn responsibility and I thank you and your team for being as diligent as you have been in meeting the moment, a very sobering moment in reality in our state, so thank you, and thanks for explaining that. Pat, good to have you, as always. What reports do we have from the front?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thanks, Governor, good afternoon. Generally, relatively uneventful overnight. In Hoboken, a bar owner was cited. This bar had been also recently cited for multiple ABC violations, which resulted in it being shut down on May 10th. In Linden, a gym owner was cited for having multiple patrons inside on equipment, and in Willingboro, a subject under arrest in a domestic violence case. Ultimately, while being processed, coughed on officers indicating that he had tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and that's all I got, Governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: You know, I spoke to a friend this morning who's pleading with me on gyms and health clubs, and I know we've already signaled that we're taking a modest but important first step. These aren't, and Judy has to wrestle with each and every one of these steps. These are not forever and always life sentences here in terms of the closures, and I want to make sure people know that and they hear that. We hope, if we continue to make progress, we hope to be able to continue to address indoor venues, and gyms are hard. They're just hard. There's no other way to put it. Right now we've signal that if you're in there by yourself or with family members, and Judy's going to give guidance to this, that that's okay, but only you. And over time, believe me, we want to be able to open this up. Fitness is a big part of not just our physical health but our mental health.
If you think back to either the list of states that Judy referred to, or the states that I mentioned that came up in terms of where the US Postal Service weighs light in terms of manpower due to COVID-19 and you look at those states, and you see why the flare ups are happening. They're overwhelmingly indoor activities. It's just a fact. So it's the bar, it's the health club, it's the over-packed, densely packed in, populated indoor reality. That's where this virus takes off and this isn't by accident in terms of the sequencing of events we're taking. It is with a very clear method to this process, and we will continue to do that. And again, please, it's not forever. We hope these numbers continue to stay good, and if they do, we'll be able to take more steps. If they don't, we'll have to be more careful in terms of taking those steps. It's just that simple. So, thank you.
I think we'll start down here today with Matt Arco and, again, unless you hear otherwise from us, we're going to be together, Dan tells me at one o'clock tomorrow. Matt, good afternoon.
Matt Arco, Star-Ledger: Good afternoon. Governor, an ACLU report released today gave the state a grade of an F-plus for its handling of the coronavirus in prisons. The state was criticized for, among other things, not halting jail admissions and was docked for having the most and highest rate of prison deaths. I'm curious how you respond to this report.
And on the probable deaths, how many of those are from long-term care facilities? Are you able to put a percentage on it? I thought you said, Doctor, that it was the majority, but could you clarify?
And finally, Governor, just what sort of is the point of signing on to this 14-day quarantine with other states? Yesterday with the announcement with Governor Cuomo, it seemed as though it was a mandatory quarantine. Later in the day, you said on air that folks will be sort of self-policing, and today, the Commissioner just said that it was voluntary. So I'm curious what sort of teeth this quarantine has, given these statements?
Governor Phil Murphy: Let me address the first and third, although I don't have much to say on the first, and then Ed, you could come in on the question on probable deaths. I've not seen the ACLU report, so forgive me for not having a specific answer to the question, but we've said from day one that our prison population, both inmates and staff are in a vulnerable, at-risk community and it's part of the reason why we put an independent process, overseen by the judiciary and ultimately by the Emergency Medical Review Committee and the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, to make decisions on folks. It's why it's been a priority in group one, Judy, in your three buckets. It's a priority. It has been and continues to be a testing priority, and steps have been taken to segregate patients based on positive test results.
It has not been like a lot of other vulnerable communities. It's not been an easy one to deal with, and you're balancing, by the way, public health with public safety all at the same time, which you've got to be incredibly diligent about.
Matt, I put this in, first of all, as it relates to, you mentioned New York and we obviously announced this with New York and Connecticut. This is an example of a bunch of things we've done with regional partners. There's harmony in the theme, but the execution is up to us in our state. I would just say it continues to be overwhelmingly on the list of smart, responsible, doing the right thing behavior that folks in this state have taken from day one. I mean, the overwhelming, and the fact that we have the paucity of non-compliant reports over the past weeks, including with protests, in some cases, that were numbering in the thousands. People had been doing the right thing, and we need them to continue doing the right thing.
I would just add to that two other specifics. The testing piece of this, which we did refer to yesterday, Judy again referred to today, is an essential piece of this, whether in the advisory or not, get tested. Just ask yourself, have I been at risk? Have I been in a packed bar somewhere in another state? Have I been… you know, we all now know very well what that looks like in terms of what a risky setting looks like. Do the right thing, stay on your own, get yourself tested. So that's specific to that.
And then repeat what I said yesterday. Judy, in her powers as the Commissioner of the Department of Health has the ability, not as a broad population to put up borders, to put up guards at the borders of the State of New Jersey, but to single out non-compliant behavior and take very explicit tough action. And she reserves that right, and I'm sure if she needs to, she'll use it.
Ed, did you actually give a number on long-term care? I know you said that it was an example of a community that you referred to.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Right. No, I actually didn't give a number. It's just under a third of the 1,854 probable deaths are associated with a long-term care facility or assisted living.
Governor Phil Murphy: Just under a third?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Just under a third.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you. Good afternoon.
Reporter: Just a follow up again on the travel advisory. If the cases are rising in these other hotspots, would the state consider to raise any enforcement levels, vehicle stops or things at the airport? Would that be something considered later on if this does change, I mean in a fluid situation?
Governor Phil Murphy: Is that it?
Governor Phil Murphy: You can't constitutionally do those things in the United States, and that's overwhelmingly for good reasons. You can't check -- this has been tried by a couple of states and you literally can't do that. Can we ramp up, however, specific action that Judy could take? Could you ramp up public awareness? Could you do things in the category of moral suasion using the bully pulpit? Absolutely. And we've got to watch this, and by the way, it's not personal to any other state. We take no joy in other states challenges right now. We've been there. We know what that looks like. We know the price, the awful price that you pay for that. So we're praying that they get better fast. That is our fervent hope, and we'll continue to do everything we can to save every life in this state that we can. Thank you. Elise, I think that's you back there. You're in the low section.
Elise Young, Bloomberg: Yeah, I'm in the cheap seats. Good afternoon. I have two questions from other reporters and then one of my own. From Daniel Munoz, a lot of businesses are complaining that it's been a week and there hasn't been any guidance for reopening casinos and indoor dining. Why hasn't it been released yet?
Also, Daniel asks, the Assembly Budget Committee is voting on the three-month stopgap spending bill, any first impressions?
Nikita from NJ Globe has a question for the Colonel. Do you support the coronavirus medical furlough release of Diana Hoffman, whose false police report led to the death of State Trooper Marc Castellano in 2010?
And finally, my question on state worker furloughs. Employees are being asked to take time off by July 31st to qualify for the $600 federal payment. This will cause staffing shortages statewide, just as the state is reopening. In retrospect, would it have been better to sign that bipartisan bill, sent to you more than a month ago, to spread out the days off? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, there's a lot on there. I'm going to ask Pat to address this as well, as it relates to Trooper Castellano, but before I get there, the guidance on casinos and indoor dining are pending shortly, right?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yes, they'll be out soon.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yep, they'll be out soon.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: It's very complicated. I mean, it's one of the largest guidances we're putting together.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, this is really, I mean, again, it's inside. It's sedentary. There's a proximity, there's ventilation issues. It's all the things that we've been talking about are the bad factors, so I appreciate everyone wants to get going. I don't blame them, by the way, so do we but we've got to get this right. Aswan, by the way, I should have introduced that Aswan is here. What was the question on the Assembly budget? I apologize.
Elise Young, Bloomberg: The Assembly Budget Committee is voting on the three-month stopgap spending bill that was posted this morning. Any first impressions on that from you?
Governor Phil Murphy: Okay. I don't, actually, and I don't mean to be flippant about that at all, but we've had good -- I think we've had a good amount of common ground and working relationships with both the Assembly and the Senate on the stopgap budget. And by the way, don't confuse the fact that we've got good common ground that it's a happy budget. As many of you have asked us about and we've heard from advocates, we have been, as a fiscal matter, have been crushed. There's no other way to put it by this coronavirus and the ensuing economic crisis that goes with it.
I will speak as a citizen as well as, in part, as Governor. I have no sympathy for Ms. Hoffman. She committed a heinous crime. That trooper, and I signed a law in his name and in his memory, is a hero and he lost his life because of her, so I have zero sympathy. Now, having said that, we had been clear from the outset that we were not simply opening the doors wide of our prison and releasing inmates. This is a program that it's been set up, the judiciary is overseeing it, it's independent, to save as many lives as possible, in a manner that as I said a few minutes ago, that balances both public health and public safety. And placement, by the way, I might add this, placement on some kind of list does not in any way guarantee release, so I want to make sure folks know that.
Under the Executive Order that we signed, each case is ultimately thoroughly reviewed by both the Emergency Medical Review Committee, but also by the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, in this case, Marcus Hicks, to ensure that we are making decisions, as I say, that properly balance both inmates' health with public safety.
But I have to say when I hear her name and I think of the life that was lost as a result of this, my head boils. I've got nothing else more constructive to say on it. Pat, I suspect you may have something you want to say as well.
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thank you, Governor. June 6th marked the 10th anniversary of Mark Castellano's death. The first call I made that Saturday morning was to his mother, Donna. And to this day, 10-plus years later, it hurts as much as it did 10 ago so to Nikita's question, I do not support her release in any way, shape or form. Thank you, Governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Pat. I appreciate also your being not just a great leader, but brutally unequivocal in that. And sign me up to stand right beside you on it. Thank you. I think we missed one of your questions here. The $600 question, Matt, could you weigh in on that? If you could, please?
Chief Counsel Matt Platkin: Yeah, the bill that was passed by the Legislature and put on the Governor's desk wouldn't have changed the fact that you have to work out an agreement with the labor unions, which we were working on before that bill was passed. I don't want to comment on the specifics of that agreement because they're still ratifying. But as the Governor said, it was a collaborative process and these are tough issues to resolve, so it wouldn't have changed anything.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Elise. Do you have anything, sir? Okay. Alex, how are you?
Alex Zdan, Power and Politics: Thank you, Governor. A question for Dr. Lifshitz. Can you tell us how far back your review of death certificates, when did it go back to? March 1st, February 1st, January 1st? There is evidence that the coronavirus may have been in New Jersey as early as the end of January. And can you tell us specifically which causes of death on those death certificates caused you to add a person to the probable list of COVID-19 deaths?
And for Governor Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin yesterday said that all options are on the table, including a tax increase, to bridge the budget gap caused by COVID-19. Would you support a tax increase? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: So Ed, why don't you jump in first, and I want to remind, Judy has chaired and still chairs the Intergovernmental Coronavirus Task Force we established, to your question on dates, Alex, on February 2nd, Super Bowl Sunday, which feels like about 40 years ago at this point. Ed, please.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Thank you. As far as the exact things that we looked at on the death certificates, I'm going to have to get back to on those details. As you may know, these are filled in freehand. They go down to CDC, they come back with some coding and other things, so I'm not quite as facile with all those details as to exactly what was looked at. We have not seen any evidence that there have been any deaths in New Jersey prior to our first known case.
We looked back, at this point, again I don't want to give you the exact date because I'm not positive of it, but I will say it was definitely before March 1st. So I am comfortable in saying that no, in the probable cases, we did not pick up anything that would have suggested that somebody died prior to our first known case.
Governor Phil Murphy: Alex, I would just say everything's got to be on the table. Not all of it happily, given the train wreck that this has led to, this health crisis, and I'll leave it there. But I think everything has got to be on the table. And again, sadly, gutting priorities that are dear to us, dear to me, dear to so many on the expenditure side, not just on the revenue side. Thank you. Coming at you, hold on one second.
Reporter: Hello, Governor. On the $7.7 billion supplemental spending bill that was introduced in both Houses of Legislature, it appears to only have modest changes compared to the three-month budget plan that the Treasury proposed last month. Are you planning to enact that bill if it clears the Legislature and makes it to your desk?
And second, predictive models from your office show that social behavior within the next month will have a huge impact on the second wave of infections, and could be the difference between a peak of 700 hospitalizations and nearly 5,000 hospitalizations several months out. With the lax social distancing and lack of masks we've been seeing at bars and other places recently, are you still confident that New Jersey can keep infections down, or are we in for a huge spike?
Governor Phil Murphy: Is that it? Nothing to report on the first question. Again, we've had a good amount of common ground with both chambers. None of us are, you know, looking at where we are as a fiscal matter, with a lot of joy right now. It's why I have to reiterate, we need to be able to bond and take advantage, especially of the Federal Reserve's special program. And secondly, we need direct federal cash assistance. And as we're saying again, we take zero joy and more than that, they're in our prayers.
You're seeing states of all different political realities getting hit by this awful thing. You know, states as I mentioned earlier, Alabama would be on the list at this point. We all are going to need the help, and it's the right, smart thing to do for our state and for our country.
I don't know how to answer the second, other than to say that if people don't behave and do the right thing, and by the way, overwhelmingly you have, so don't get off of that now. We run the risk of this thing coming back at us, Judy, there's no other way to put it. If you're inside, especially. So I'm not saying you can let your hair down completely if you're outside, and I know Judy and Ed would agree with that. But if you're inside, and especially if it's sedentary and the ventilation is not terrific and you're in some, even if you're socially distant but you're in some proximity, you've got to do the right thing, and on that list is, not while you're eating or drinking something, not that I've ever had a drink, but you have to have a face covering, social distancing, washing your hands with soap and water. Don't go in there if you've got symptoms or you're not feeling well; don't go in there in the first place.
And here's one really good silver lining. That unlike when Ed was just referring to the early days of this awful crisis, we now have as good a testing regime in this state as any state in America. You heard yesterday, I guess, I'm losing track of days, about contact tracing, which is getting ramped up. You've heard this do the right thing that Judy's leading in terms of coordinating with New York and Connecticut and executing in New Jersey of be smart, do the responsible thing, self-quarantine; get yourself a couple of tests. Those are all protocols and assets at our disposal that we did not have on February 2 or on March 4 when we had our first positive case, so that's a good thing.
So that means we can much more quickly and agilely spot it, surround it, isolate it and drive it to the ground. That is a good thing that we've spent months building and we've got that capacity. Let's use it, particularly on the testing side. But am I concerned? Are we all concerned that if people go indoors and don't do the right things that this could lead to flare ups? Yes, count me as concerned. So please, folks, continue to do the right things.
Paul, Good afternoon.
Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger: Good afternoon. Is this three-state move something of a retaliation for the prior move on the Florida Governor to keep New Jerseyans out? Because back when that was out and Trump was proposing to quarantine us, Cuomo said if you start walling off areas all across the country, it would be totally bizarre, counterproductive, anti-American and anti-social. Ned Lamont said that a quarantine would create a certain amount of confusion, confusion can lead to panic. He said such a quarantine order would be impossible to enforce, given the spider web of roads. And yet now that's what he's asking for, and you are and Governor Cuomo is.
What happened to change their minds, I guess, on quarantines? They were against them when it was us who were going to be quarantined.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I can't speak for Governor Cuomo or Lamont, other than they're great partners. I'll speak for myself. This is not retaliation at all, and that is from the heart. We have gone through hell. We've now got, if you include now the probables, even more thousands of folks who have likely died from this. I am trying, Judy, Ed, Pat, we're all trying desperately to do everything we can to not go back through that hell. And so this is, in my opinion, not retaliation at all. We take no solace or joy in the hell that other states are going through that we have gone through. We hope and pray they get better fast, but we've got to do, within our abilities.
And again, we can't stop you at the border just because you've got a certain license plate, it's America. You can't do that. But you can use, as we're trying to do, the bully pulpit, an advisory, not just a recommendation but an advisory. I love the fact that Judy's adding the testing piece to that, which I know she feels is an important element of this, to do the right thing here and there's zero retaliation from yours truly. Thank you. Sir, how are you?
Phil Andrews, New Jersey News Network: Phil Andrews, New Jersey News Network.
Governor Phil Murphy: Nice to see you.
Phil Andrews, New Jersey News Network: Yeah, nice to be seen. Two quick questions. You said earlier in this briefing that the closure of gyms is not a life sentence but, you know, those gym owners have families to feed, they have bills to pay, rent to pay on their buildings and it's been three-and-a-half months now since they've had any revenue. Have you given any thought to helping them out once they open with tax breaks financially?
And the second question is, obviously as you continue to lift restrictions that you enforced, there are going to be people, especially underserved people in this state, that are going to be in trouble as far as rent and mortgages and stuff like that. Now, last month, I know you implemented the $100 million. Some say that's not enough. What is your response to that?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I mean, on both, again, I've got -- I mean, there have been a couple of gym owners who have been deliberately non-compliant and aggressive, shall we say? But overwhelmingly, folks have not. It's painful as heck for them. We have nothing but sympathy for that, I promise you. Gyms are really, particularly a gym with a regular capacity, is a really hard one, I know, from the health side. You've got sweating, grunting, you've got a lot of stuff going on which not only are you indoors, close, etc. I promise you, we'll try to get there as fast as we can.
And then secondly, your question, I'm going to say a comment about actually each of these. Also folks who have – we've tried to create as many holidays as possible for rent payments, for mortgage payments, for insurance payments, we've banned foreclosures, etc. We've also tried to have a spirit that just when you get to the end of that holiday at day one of the next period, you can't send a bill for the three or four months that you just had the holiday for. We want the spirit to be, add those months to the back of your mortgage, not to the immediately following period of time.
It does get back to something I mentioned a minute ago. Can we find ways to help out our small businesses? In this case, gyms? Can we find ways to help individuals who are renting or who have a mortgage payment? We'll do everything we can as a state, but we can't come close to doing, as you rightfully point out, to meeting the need without the ability to borrow and without the direct federal cash assistance, and we need both This is not an either/or, we need them both. You've just highlighted two really good potential uses of that money if we get it, to help out small businesses in a much more fulsome way, particularly the ones that have been closed the longest, and to help the individuals who are under the burden of paying a rent or a mortgage.
Reporter: I have just a quick follow up.
Governor Phil Murphy: Real quick.
Reporter: Yeah, sure. So the reason I asked you the gym question, obviously, I understand what you're talking about, about a certain group of gym owners that made it hard for the others in the beginning. But, you know, I'm not sure that -- I totally just forgot what I was going to say.
Governor Phil Murphy: No, listen –
Reporter: No, I asked you that question because there already are gym owners who have said that they will not be able to reopen, they filed for bankruptcy and that's it. Their business is –
Governor Phil Murphy: Listen, again, all I can say is I've got enormous sympathy for them. Overwhelmingly, folks have done the right thing, period, in this state, including the folks who own gyms, I have to say. You've got other businesses that have closed. Again, if we could get the ability to borrow, the ability to get a bunch of much-needed federal cash assistance, which by the way, I've said many times will allow us to keep the firefighters, the police, the EMS, the healthcare workers, the educators employed, in addition to what it will do for small businesses, that those are game changers. Fingers crossed, praying every day for both of those. Ma'am, you get to close us out here.
Reporter: Hey, so Commissioner, just a quick question on that 14-day travel quarantine. I think you said there were nine states that it applied to. Can you just run through them again for me really quick?
Governor, are county workers who are returning to offices required to wear masks? And what are your thoughts on policies that require employees who have been exposed to COVID but are asymptomatic to quarantine at work by wearing masks?
Does counting the probable deaths from coronavirus in any way help with your argument to the federal government that we need some cash assistance, and any plans to talk to the President about that this weekend?
And just Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the probable deaths that are from the death certificate review, I think that was the third category you had talked about. What number of the overall 1,400-ish is from that specific review?
Governor Phil Murphy: Let me start. Judy can go through the nine states. Remember that that will be updated, I think you said weekly, right?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I'm sorry, there's eight states. There were nine, but Washington was removed. Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Washington State was on. They advised us of their statistics and they met the threshold to be removed.
Governor Phil Murphy: I'm going to jump to – Ed, that last question. Do you mind jumping in on that?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: I don't have the exact breakdown as far as those numbers go. Certainly the majority and probably the wrong thing to say to reporters, don't quote me on the number, but roughly two-thirds, somewhere in that range. I, by the way, do have an answer back to that question. Which I didn't answer before as to what is being searched on the death certificates, and the terms COVID-19, SARs-Cov-2, or novel coronavirus are what is being searched for on the death certificates from when we look.
Governor Phil Murphy: I can promise you beyond a shadow of a doubt the reason why Ed and his team have gone through the solemn responsibility was to do the right thing by folks whose lives were lost. It had nothing to do with federal cash. It's to do the right thing and honor those folks.
I do not have plans as we sit here to see the President this weekend, but I did mention that he is welcome in New Jersey as an essential worker. I think we would all agree that the President of the United States is in that category. On folks who are working indoors, yes, you've got to wear a face covering. We're not recommending it, we're mandating it I just missed, I apologize, the policy about someone who was asymptomatic but exposed?
Reporter: Monmouth County is allowing people to go back to work who have been exposed but who are asymptomatic if they wear masks. What do you think about that?
Governor Phil Murphy: I don't have a comment specific to Monmouth County, but I hope they got tested, and Judy would probably want me to say that they got tested twice. Do you want to, or Ed, do you want to hit that?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: If I'm understanding the question right, you're saying people who tested positive but aren't having symptoms?
Governor Phil Murphy: No, they were exposed to corona, but they're asymptomatic. Is that right?
Reporter: Yes, thank you.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: If they were a close contact of somebody, meaning at least six feet for about 10 minutes or so, or coughing and sneezing or something like that, then in general, with very few exceptions, the rule would be we'd want you to stay home quarantined for two weeks.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you. And by the way, you wouldn't mind if they're getting tested, right?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: No, absolutely we would recommend testing, but actually testing wouldn't change the fact that we tell you to stay home for two weeks.
Governor Phil Murphy: So, thank you. I'm going to mask up here. Thank Judy and Ed, and Ed in particular today for a solemn duty and presentation. Judy, as always, thank you. Pat, God bless you and God bless Trooper Castellano's memory. Jared, always good to have you; Matt, Dan, the rest of the squad will be here at one o'clock tomorrow.
And again, I end where I normally end and that is to say thank you. We've asked a lot of folks over the past number of months, well over 100 days now, and you've been extraordinary and you continue to be, and we need you to continue to be for all of our benefits. And again, I think it's personal responsibility. It is common sense. Common sense not just for your own sake or your family's, but for the common good. And I think it's pretty clear. I mentioned this the other day, sometimes in life, the judgment call is complicated because it's the first time you're exposed to a particular question or challenge. This, I think now has become, and this is overwhelmingly thanks to the millions in the state. It's pretty clear where the judgment lies and the common sense lies, and you all know it now and we just got to continue to execute it.
And again, remember, if you're inside, this thing's a lot more lethal than if you're outside. If you've been in a high test, positive test environment in another state, or a state that's got a bunch of new cases, particularly if you've been indoors, I mean, it's fairly straightforward what we all need to be doing right now.
Again, keep it up, folks. You've been extraordinary. No state has done what New Jersey has done. We wish all the other states the best fortune possible, that they get through this as fast as possible that our country gets back on our feet as fast as possible, not just for the folks who have had fatalities in their families or sickness in their families, but for the folks who have lost their jobs or that gym owner or small business that went under as a result of this. We've all got to get back on our feet responsibly, at the right pace, together and in New Jersey, stronger as one family than ever before. God bless and thank you.