When NJ starts to reopen, getting back to normal won’t be normal
It’s no secret that most residents in New Jersey and across the country are starting to go stir-crazy from staying at home. Everyone is looking forward to the start of a return to normalcy.
There’s been a lot of discussion about beginning to reopen the state and the nation next month. But Gov. Phil Murphy is driving home the fact that this will be a slow process.
Most New Jersey lawmakers have been strongly supportive of the social distancing policies and directives that the governor has enacted, but state Sen. Mike Doherty, R-Warren, is breaking ranks.
“I can no longer support Gov. Murphy’s draconian shut down measures. He needs to stop his one-size-fits-all approach. He is destroying small businesses and sending millions of New Jersey residents into poverty," Doherty said in a written statement.
Murphy said Wednesday that we must “beat the crap out of the virus, get it down to as close to zero, down to a manageable reality where the experts can say, 'OK, we’re safe to start reconsidering some of the events we’ve made.' Then it’s a responsible re-opening, and you need health care infrastructure, you need protocols in place that, frankly, we don’t have at the moment.”
The health care infrastructure Murphy is referring to is widespread COVID-19 testing with fast results, and a robust contact tracing program that will be able to rapidly get to the origin of coronavirus hot spots so they can be contained without significant spread.
But even when that is all in place, don’t expect the return to normal to be normal.
Murphy said one social distancing study done at Harvard University and published in the journal Science suggests social distancing protocols may need to stay in effect until 2022.
Murphy said when restaurants start to re-open for sit down service, patrons may need to have their temperatures checked or submit to a saliva test as they come through the front door, and tables will need to be far apart.
“You go inside, the servers are masked and gloved," he said. "The wiping down of surfaces is hyper-aggressive. You’re at 50% of capacity at most.”
Murphy suggested any type of sports or entertainment event and perhaps even high school and college graduations may have to be held virtually, with no one in the audience, for an extended period of time.
“I don’t see a normal, even if it were to take place, a normal gathering in the foreseeable future. I just don’t see it," he said. “I’ll be the happiest guy on the planet if I’m wrong.”
On the possibility of scientists fast-tracking a vaccine for COVID-19, Murphy said he wasn’t holding his breath.
“I haven’t spoken to anybody who lives in this field who thinks a vaccine sooner than a year, a year and a half is realistic.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com