By CBS3 Staff

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Friday he is creating the Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council to get the economy running again as the coronavirus spread rate is slowing across the state. Murphy reported 1,985 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 135,454.

Another 162 people died from the virus, raising the death toll to 8,952.

“Rates of spread are slowing across the state,” Murphy said. “This is a very positive sign.”

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Coronavirus hospitalizations are also down in New Jersey, as there are 1,000 fewer patients than last Friday. Currently, 4,605 patients are hospitalized.

“Our hospital systems are still dealing with far more patients than they would be otherwise in any other year. The stress on our health care system, while certainly lessening, is still there. We have the power to push these numbers down further,” Murphy said.

The advisory council Murphy is creating will bring together leaders from various industry, community and faith-based institutions to work in conjunction with the Restart and Recovery Commission.

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The Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council will break into nine committees:

  • Facilities and Construction
  • Government
  • Health Care
  • Main Street
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain
  • Professional Services
  • Social Services and Faith
  • Tourism and Entertainment
  • Transportation and Infrastructure

“We understand that we need a smart and granular approach to recovery. Reopening the restaurants and boardwalk shops down the Shore is far different from restarting retail in downtown Morristown, Lambertville, or Collingswood, or anywhere else,” Murphy said.

As the governor works to reopen New Jersey’s economy, he says he’s doing so with caution.

“We’ve made an enormous amount of progress, but when you have 334 people over the past 24 hours going into a hospital for COVID-19, it’s as good as an example as any that we’re not out of the woods yet,” Murphy said.

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The advisory council will gather local intelligence needed to get the economy running again and creating the framework for coping with the state’s new long-term economic realities.

The commission will start meeting virtually next week.

CBS3 Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.