By Cleve Bryan


TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey continues to be one of the hardest hit states in the country for COVID-19 cases. For the first time Friday, New Jersey saw more than 4,000 new cases in a single day as officials say about one in eight of all hospitalized people in New Jersey are COVID-19 patients.

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“This is, without question, the fight of our lives,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Second only to New York, New Jersey continues to be the nation’s coronavirus hot-spot, adding 4,372 new cases and 113 more deaths on Friday. In all, there are 29,895 cases and 646 deaths.

The heavy toll prompted Murphy to sign an executive order lowering all flags to half-staff indefinitely.

“This is one of the greatest tragedies to ever hit our state and our nation indeed,” Murphy said. “And we must have a constant and visible memorial of the tremendous personal toll COVID-19 is having on our communities.”

Beginning this weekend with Palm Sunday, social distancing measures will soon interrupt Holy Week and Passover. Health officials say faith leaders need to encourage their congregations to find ways to observe their religion in isolation.

“We understand that while this may be disappointing to many who look forward to spending time with relatives and friends, it is imperative to limit face-to-face interaction,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

Cherry Hill police are at the COVID-19 epicenter of South Jersey, with 74 cases in the township as of Thursday. Adding to their challenge is the seven grocery stores attracting out-of-towners.

The department has cut way down on traffic stops and tries to resolve as many matters as possible over the phone to limit officers’ exposure.

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Cherry Hill Police Chief Bud Mohaghan says no officers have contracted the virus yet, but it seems inevitable.

“When you take this job in law enforcement, you have an understanding that there’s the potential that you could be harmed or injured or even killed in the line of duty. There’s never that realization that the bullet that is potentially shot at you, that you can carry that home to your family,” Mohaghan said.

Murphy says it may seem morbid, but at this point, the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to treat every surface, every person as if they have the virus, including yourself.