TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — In New Jersey, information on reopening is limited as the state continues to deal with a high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Gov. Phil Murphy says he is still hesitant to set a timeline.
Tuesday was another day of mixed developments in the state, with officials getting some good news about federal aid, but also saying that the reopening of small businesses remains a ways off.
“Nobody is itching more to get this state back up and running than yours truly and the team up here, but we got to do it right,” Murphy said.
An animated Murphy addressed the elephant in the room Tuesday, justifying his hesitance to lay out a timeline for reopening the state.
“I’m sorry we can’t give you more definitive guidance yet on things that we’re working on. By the way, non-essential retail I hear morning, noon and night. I appreciate all that. I appreciate all the inputs and the wisdom on beaches. We still have people getting sick, going to the hospital and sadly over 300 we’re reporting have died,” Murphy said.
The COVID-19 death toll now stands above 8,000 in New Jersey. Many of those victims are residents of nursing homes and other long-term facilities, where health officials announced a plan to test more than 30,000 residents and staff in the coming weeks.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is expanding an ongoing misconduct investigation at such facilities by enlisting the public’s help.
“We’ve created a reporting portal at covid19.nj.gov/ltc. There you can share with us any evidence of misconduct that you might have,” Grewal said.
At the local level, mayors throughout New Jersey joined a call with Sen. Bob Menendez, imploring Congress to pass his $500 billion “smart” funding bill. It would bring direct aid to states and localities hard hit by COVID-19, such as Cherry Hill, whose mayor says business, construction and other revenues have plummeted during the pandemic.
“We need to be flexible here and open-minded so we need flexible funding to act as a stop-gap in order for us to get past this, through this crisis,” Mayor Susan Shin Angulo said.
On Tuesday, New Jersey officials say they received good news regarding how they can spend about $2.5 billion from the recent federal stimulus. That includes allowing the state to make a nearly $500 million school aid payment this Friday.