No 14-day quarantine? Murphy says he wasn’t that close to infected staff
Gov. Phil Murphy said he is going "above and beyond" health recommendations by self-isolating at least through the end of the weekend, noting that he and his wife do not need to quarantine for 14 days because neither of them had "meaningful close contact" with two senior staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The governor left a scheduled event at Camden County Community College on Wednesday after being told he had been in "close proximity” on Saturday night with a staffer who later tested positive. His office later identified that person as Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Delamater. A second advisor, Daniel Bryan, also tested positive.
Bryan told NJ.com that the governor and first lady were at a "social event" at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten in Hoboken and were joined by Delamater for about 15 minutes outdoors before leaving.
Murphy, holding a remote news briefing through Facebook on Thursday, said they had a beer outdoors in an effort to get around the state and support businesses. They used "good judgement" by only removing their masks to drink, he said.
Murphy said that by CDC definition, he and his wife did not have "meaningful close contact" with Delamater but out of an abundance caution they have gone into quarantine until at least Monday.
The CDC has been defining "close contact" to mean spending 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of someone. On Wednesday, the CDC updated its definition so that close contact would mean spending at least 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone within a 24-hour period, meaning that that the 15 minutes would not have to be back-to-back.
A meaningful close contact would have required a 14-day quarantine, according to Murphy, who said several people in his front office were deemed to have had close contact.
"We've gone above and beyond what the public health guidance otherwise would have been and we're taking ourselves off the field at least through the weekend. We're going to continue to isolate at home, self monitor and take two more tests, which God willing will be negative before we get back on the field," Murphy said.
Murphy noted that he had a malignant tumor removed from his kidney in March and he needs to be extra careful to guard his health.
"Nobody takes this stuff more serious than we do. That's frankly why we acted as quickly and decisively as we did when we learned of the positive result," Murphy said.
The couple tested negative on Wednesday. He expected to be tested again on Saturday and on Monday. Murphy said that if the tests are negative, he expects the next scheduled briefing will be held in person on Monday.
Murphy said there was also a going-away party for former Chief Counsel Matt Platkin at Drumthawcket on Friday night held under a tent that was open on most of its sides.
"It was well social-distanced and within capacities," Murphy said, adding that Delamater did not show symptoms on Friday or Saturday night.