Gov. Phil Murphy unveiled 21 picks to a commission that will gauge the order and timeline in which businesses should reopen, and how the state’s economy can get moving once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Like with the six-step guideline for how the state can lift the restrictions and stomp out the virus, the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Commission also has no set dates or timelines.
Murphy indicated the span would be a “number of weeks, not months,” with a slim chance that some progress can be made before Memorial Day weekend.
The commission will be co-chaired by the immediate past president of Princeton University Shirley Tilghman and Merck Chief Executive Officer Ken Frazier, Murphy said on Tuesday.
“It will be their task to balance multiple competing needs to ensure we arrive at equitable decisions that work for every community in our state,” the governor said on Monday.
“I will ask them to help us, and our businesses, leverage any and all available federal funds and programs to support our recovery.”
Other members include incoming Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke; labor union AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; former acting director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Richard Besser; and Tony Coscia, Windels Marx partner and board chair of Amtrak and Suez North America.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver; Murphy Chief Counsel Matt Platkin, Chief of Staff George Helmy and Chief Policy Advisory Kathleen Frangione; and State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli will sit on the commission in an ex-officio capacity.
All told, the commission will look at how to boost new industries while reviving the economy, securing more federal dollars, making sure that no businesses are left out of the recovery, and to “advise the governor on the timing of the restart,” according to a Tuesday afternoon press release from the governor’s office.
Restart and Recovery Commission
- Princeton University Immediate Past President Shirley Tilghman
- Merck CEO Ken Frazier
- Former Campbell’s CEO Denise Morrison
- Spartina Productions Vice President Evelyn McGee Colbert
- InCharged, VendX and Lux-UVC CEO Jessica Gonzalez
- Apple Vice President of Environmental, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson
- Former U.S. Homeland Security Security Jeh Johnson
- Prudential Financial Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey
- Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden
- Former U.S. Department of Labor Chief Economist William Rodgers
- Rev. Regena Thomas of the American Federation of Teachers
- Incoming Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway
- Former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke
- AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
- Former Acting Director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Richard Besser
- Windels Marx Partner and board chair of Amtrak and Suez North America Tony Coscia
- Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver
- Chief Counsel to the governor Matt Platkin
- Chief of Staff for the governor George Helmy
- Chief Policy Advisory for the governor Kathleen Frangione
- State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli
The group will start virtual meetings “very soon,” Murphy said Tuesday, but he did not have a timeline for when the commission will deliver its recommendations to him.
“I am confident that with input from thoughtful people, including scientific and health care experts, we will be able to recommend a responsible path forward to reopen the economy while continuing to keep New Jersey citizens safe,” Frazier said in that press release.
The formation of the group is the fifth step of Murphy’s six-step guideline for how COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted throughout New Jersey and how the state economy can be reopened.
For nearly six weeks, New Jersey has been in a near-total state of lockdown, in a bid to halt the spread of COVID-19, which has shown increasing signs of success.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the virus infected 113,856 New Jersey residents and claimed 6,442 lives. Still, state health officials pointed out that the rate of new cases, hospitalizations, ventilators and critical care usage have flatted in recent weeks, and begun to drop in recent days.
Before restrictions could be lifted, the state has to achieve major milestones including two weeks of consistent declines in new cases and hospitalizations, an expansion of the state’s testing and quicker turnaround for results, and the ability to use contact tracing to track down and isolate potential COVID-19 positives.
Editor’s note: This post was updated at 3:41 p.m. EST on April 28: A previous version identified Shirley Tilghman as the president of Princeton University; she is the immediate past president and Chris Eisgruber currently holds the position.