As the nation continues to struggle with impact of COVID-19, some continue to believe the danger posed by the pandemic has been overblown and the risk of becoming seriously ill or dying is so low that the state should drop masking, social distancing and capacity restrictions.

Others think the health emergency declared more than 13 months ago is part of a larger, wide-scale manipulation and control effort by the government and pharmaceutical companies.

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t one of them.

“I don’t know how anyone could look at over 25,000 deaths in this state in 13 months and not conclude that this was an incredibly serious health crisis," Murphy said Monday.

While state health officials have reported 22,469 confirmed deaths attributed to the virus, thousands of additional fatalities are suspected to be related to COVID.

Murphy said given the New Jersey reality, and the fact that we’ve been basically indoors for the past five months, lifting current restrictions and COVID protections would be foolhardy.

“In a pandemic, our density, our proximity to New York City — we just don’t have the latitude that other states that don’t have that density and don’t have that weather reality have," he said. “I would love to be a less dense state that has warmer weather more often in the year as it relates to a pandemic.”

Murphy has continually encouraged state residents to do as much as possible outside because the risk of transmission is greatly diminished.

“I want to get out of this as much as anybody and I continue to believe that Memorial Day brings us to a dramatically different place," he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

Small towns in New Jersey you didn't know existed

There are so many small towns in New Jersey that you may have heard of, especially in our listening area of Central and North Jersey. In the southern part of the state, where we have less reach and interaction, there are towns almost guaranteed, you've never heard of. Many of them in Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem Counties. Some are even in Burlington and Camden County. Here's a quick look at just of few of them.

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