By Cleve Bryan


TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is taking more steps that point to a return to some sense of normalcy. Friday’s focus was on hospitals.

“Look at how dramatically things have moved in just a few weeks,” Murphy said.

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With COVID-19 hospitalizations dropping rapidly and health care systems by and large far from overwhelmed, Murphy gave another green light Friday, allowing the return of elective surgeries.

“Allowing for these procedures to resume is a big step forward for public health and we’re able to do this on May 26 because the data we receive daily from our hospitals says we can,” Murphy said.

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Patients needing anything from joint replacements to cancerous tumors removed will have to take a coronavirus test 72 hours before surgery and then self-isolate until the procedure.

Not only will this help patients but it will relieve some of the financial stress hospitals are suffering.

Also to help with the state’s economic recovery, Murphy announced the administration will allocate $50 million from the Federal Cares Act to help jump-start small businesses.

“Access to capital is the No. 1 priority,” said Christina Renna, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey.

Renna says money for payroll, rent and purchasing power is absolutely essential right now for small businesses, which employ about 60% of all workers in New Jersey.

She says allowing curbside pickup to start this coming Monday for nonessential businesses will be a big economic boost but she says more businesses are ready to open up, and the government needs to provide more safety guidelines.

“Businesses of all shapes and sizes, your microbusinesses to your 500-person business, you need guidelines from the government as to what is going to be required to keep to your employees, your clients and your customers safe,” Renna said.

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Murphy also announced that all registered Democrats and Republicans will receive vote-by-mail ballots with postage and unaffiliated voters will get vote-by-mail applications.

However, every New Jersey municipality must have at least one polling place open on July 7 for the primary.