“I don’t see it,” he told NJ Advance Media in a recent interview, referring to more limits on businesses, vaccine requirements or mask mandates. Instead, he said that his second-term goal will be to get “back to a real semblance of normalcy” and steer health care resources toward the state’s hospitals, long-term care facilities, and vaccination, booster shot and testing efforts.
The vaccination and booster combination, Murphy told the news outlet, will be essential as COVID-19 becomes endemic on par with the annual flu season.
According to numerous Jan. 7 media reports, vaccine producer Moderna’s chief executive officer said a fourth booster shot could be needed in the fall.
Beginning in mid-December, daily cases rose to record highs owing to a combination of holiday gatherings and more indoor events because of colder weather and the highly infectious omicron variant. During the week of Jan. 7, the state logged more than 30,000 daily cases for the first time in the 22-month pandemic.
In addition, hospitals reported treating 5,600 patients as of Jan. 6, and health officials said they expect that the number could rise to between 6,000 and 9,000 patients by mid-January. New Jersey’s hospitals are being told to prepare for upwards of 30% of their staff to be out sick with COVID-19 at any given time.
State officials are asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help with hospital staffing, and recently got approval for the National Guard’s deployment to long-term care centers.
But Murphy has repeatedly steered clear of new COVID-19 mandates akin to the restrictions and closures of businesses ranging from restaurants, gyms, retail, malls, casinos, hair salons, spas, concerts, sporting events, and theaters, as well as public gatherings and non-essential travel.
“We’re gonna get through this,” the governor told NJ Advance Media. “The omicron variant appears to be something that goes up literally like a straight line and when it breaks, it goes down pretty precipitously. And ultimately, it’s going to get to a place where [COVID-19] going to be among us, but we will be able to live what we would all think of as completely normal lives. And I do believe that is within our reach sooner rather than later.”
The governor acknowledged that although there has been wide acceptance in the state of mask usage, there’s not a “high confidence” that another statewide mandate could be enforced.
Masks are required in certain public places such as airports under federal law, and under state law on public transit, in health care facilities, schools, state government buildings and in many universities.
The governor is seeking legislative approval of a 90-day extension of his COVID-19 emergency powers past their original Jan. 11 expiration, but lawmakers are giving him 45 days. Republicans in the state Legislature are opposed to any kind of extension.
Many municipalities have enacted their own COVID restrictions, something Murphy said is both expected and welcome. Cities such as Newark, New Brunswick, Patterson Montclair, Morristown and Hoboken are requiring masks for all public places, such as shops and restaurants.
Newark, meanwhile, is requiring proof of vaccination to enter many businesses such as theaters, restaurants and bars, gyms and concert venues.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]