As cases rise to 16,600, Gov. Murphy says some ventilators are coming

KYW Staff
March 30, 2020 - 2:56 pm

UPDATED: 8:40 p.m.

TRENTON, N.J. (KYW Newsradio/AP) — New Jersey has seen its largest single-day jump in the coronavirus death toll. 

Gov. Phil Murphy said in the last day alone, 37 more people have died and 3,347 more COVID-19 cases have been identified in New Jersey, bringing the totals to 198 deaths and 16,636 cases. 

As the infection rate explodes, Murphy said it’s imperative that people stay home. At his daily briefing on Monday, Murphy presented graphs illustrating that if New Jersey had no social-distancing protocols, it would run out of ICU beds by Wednesday, and all hospital beds in 10 more days. 

“This chart is the nightmare scenario that we are desperately working to avoid,” he added.

That’s why Murphy said he wants to crack down on violators.

“If you have a gathering, you're doing it in a more benign way than if you cough on somebody and say you've got coronavirus. But in both cases, you're wrong,” he said. “And you're out of compliance and it's illegal behavior and I want to, if anything, tighten the screws on the price that those folks will pay.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

“We have got to stay away from each other. We've got to set a bar in terms of our social-distancing that no other state has set before. And by the way, who's to say we can't? Remember, we are New Jersey,” he encouraged. “We can do this. We must do this.”

Ventilators coming

Murphy, a Democrat, said in a tweet that 300 ventilators are on their way to New Jersey from the national stockpile.

He said he spoke with the White House about the need for the equipment in multiple conversations. He said they are the state's No. 1 need.

He has said the state needs 2,300 ventilators from the federal government.

Toll hike

The New Jersey agency that operates the Atlantic City Expressway has scheduled a public meeting for Wednesday to consider toll increase, despite the governor's order for residents to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority has two meetings planned for Wednesday and a third on Thursday to consider capital projects financed by average toll increases of 57 cents at most. The authority is also considering automatic toll increases of at most 3% annually beginning in 2022.

It's unclear how the public is expected to attend the meetings amid the coronavirus outbreak and given Murphy's March 21 order that people stay home. Messages seeking comment and an explanation were left with the authority and Murphy's office. The governor has the power to veto state boards' and authorities' actions.

The toll money would be used for capital projects, including roadway resurfacing and changes to lighting, according to the public notice about the meeting.

Related:

A trip on the expressway that starts in Camden County and ends in Atlantic City currently costs $3.75.

The proposed toll increase come just weeks after the New Jersey Turnpike authority held similar meetings, which were livestreamed for so the public could watch, to consider toll increases. The turnpike authority wants to raise tolls by up to 36% on the turnpike and up to 27% on the Garden State Parkway.

And though most expressways have suspended cash tolls, the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol bridges are still accepting cash payments.

Brew pubs, auto retail and guns

Murphy also clarified some business restrictions, saying real estate agents could show houses one-on-one, but they couldn't host open houses. 

And, he said gun dealers could sell firearms, but they'd have to do it by appointment-only. He said the decision wasn't his but came from guidance from the White House.

New Jersey brew pubs will now be able to deliver, too. The state's Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control had previously barred such delivery.

He also said that auto retailers would be permitted to conduct online sales, with customers allowed to pick up vehicles at dealers or for dealers to deliver.

Boardwalk closing

Belmar decided Monday to close its boardwalk — one of the most heavily trafficked spots at the Jersey shore in recent weeks.

The borough will still allow people to use the beach, but police will monitor them to ensure they are observing social-distancing.

Belmar's boardwalk is one of the more narrow oceanfront walkways at the shore, and has been drawing heavy crowds recently, particularly as other shore towns closed their own boardwalks.

A liquor store reopens

A liquor store that was inundated with residents of Pennsylvania, where the state has closed the wine and hard-alcohol shops it runs, has reopened, the store's manager told NJ.com.

Johnny Canal said he decided to close the Pennsauken store last week after it was swamped by residents from Pennsylvania over concerns that customers were not adhering to social-distancing precautions.

The store reopened after it updated a sign outside saying that "Social Distancing Saves Lives," and employees directed customers where to stand in line.

Ocean City rentals

In Ocean City, Mayor Jay Gillian said he has spoken with leaders of the resort's real estate community, who agreed to halt all short-term rentals.

He asked private property owners to do likewise, citing an executive order by the governor prohibiting online marketplaces from offering rentals during the virus outbreak.

In a message to residents issued Sunday night, Gillian, who has tried to avoid being drawn into disputes between year-round and summer residents over whether owners of second homes should stay away from Ocean City, said: "Although Ocean City ordinarily welcomes all visitors, at this time we must take all available steps to enforce social-distancing recommendations and limit nonessential travel to Ocean City."

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KYW Newsradio’s Mike DeNardo, as well as the Associated Press, contributed to this report.