Hospitalizations from COVID-19 spiked in New Jersey overnight, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday, prompting uneasiness from state health officials as the administration rolls back restrictions meant to slow or stop the spread of the virus.
That comes as Murphy, on Thursday, said he would “begin to signal where we’re headed” with state restrictions on most forms of in-person business.
As of Wednesday evening, there were 365 new hospitalizations: 185 in North Jersey, 112 in Central Jersey and 65 in South Jersey. On Tuesday, the state reported 241 hospitalizations.
“We are going to watch these numbers over the coming days to see if there may be a deeper meaning” or if they are just isolated spikes, Murphy said Thursday at his daily COVID-19 press briefing at the Trenton War Memorial. “We’ve got to make sure we are watching them like a hawk.”
Murphy said his administration would want to take in more data as to whether this is a one-day fluke, or an indication that hospitalizations from the virus are rising.
That could pose uncertainty for the state’s reopening plan, which is broken down into three phases of increasingly lessened restrictions and more outdoor activities allowed, followed by indoor activities on a limited basis.
Murphy said Thursday that in the “next couple days” his administration would put out guidelines on indoor activities such as retail, as well as outdoor dining, daycare and potentially gyms.
“We’ve got to make sure that things are in fact going in the direction we want to go in,” Murphy said. “We’ve been on a one-way street and we don’t want to have to turn the car around.”
But the governor was vague on details on Thursday, arguing that “the last thing we’d want to do is give a date and then pull back on something.”
The governor has only begun rolling back restrictions in May that were put in place on businesses and mass gatherings in the state in March in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus. That’s garnered frustration from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, who are pressing the governor to either speed up how quickly he lifts restrictions, or offer more insight into the decision-making process.
“For everybody who says ‘open the thing up tomorrow, let’s turn all the lights on’, you got 365 folks going into the hospital,” Murphy said.
Memorial Day weekend was the first litmus test for what a summer of COVID-19 could look like. But according to Murphy, the lackluster turnout on the Jersey Shore was more because of the rainy weekend weather rather than the business closures.