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Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you for joining us. We are now together. I am joined by many including speakers Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and her team, and Commissioner of Banking and Insurance Marlene Caride. In addition to Judy and Marlene, we have the Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver with us, State Police Colonel and Superintendent Pat Callahan, Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet among many others.
Since yesterday’s briefing we have received 31 new positive test results and that brings our cumulative statewide total at this moment to 98. And Judy will provide the details on these cases. Let me just say this, that the 98 includes 2 fatalities – the original loss of life in Bergen County and then the blessed woman we announced last evening from Monmouth County. And last evening’s fatality is included in the number 31. And then, as Judy will probably tell you we had one overlap with another state and one duplicate. So, if you’re doing the math from yesterday to today, that explains why we are now cumulatively at 98 positive test results in the state, again, 2 of whom sadly are fatalities.
Separately, and the reason why Marlene is on with us for many other reasons, I’m requesting today… I a short while ago signed a letter that the federal government open an emergency enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, to give people whether they are uninsured or underinsured the opportunity to get quality health coverage. Several states have their own exchanges and we’ve already taken that step, and we need this flexibility across the board. And Marlene will speak to this in her remarks.
As I said last week and yesterday on the phone, an announcement on an extended statewide school shutdown is imminent. We are communicating the details to stakeholders today and tomorrow morning to ensure a singular message, and to ensure educators, parents, and administrators have clear guidance and are prepared for the weeks ahead. Commissioner Repollet and his team have been working throughout the weekend, literally 24 hours a day with districts to ensure all local needs are taken fully into consideration. Districts and parents should continue making all necessary preparations, and I can say with definitiveness that we will be prepared to lay out the statewide showdown of schools tomorrow at our press briefing at 2:00 PM, which I believe tomorrow will be held at 225 W State St by the way.
I think we said this on Friday to clarify: in addition to gas and other electric utilities, that all New Jersey water companies have voluntarily agreed to suspend shutoffs during this emergency. And I wanted to make sure I reiterated that.
We have established an online portal where businesses can find answers to their questions and concerns. That’s www.CV.business.nj.gov. And listen, we know this is an uncertain time for everybody but in this case for businesses, particularly small businesses. And we implore them to continue paying workers and allowing workers who are sick to stay home. Not paying employees might keep employers from being able to fully benefit from an anticipated federal relief and keep their workers from using available state benefits like earned sick and paid family leave. Again, we understand the impact all of this is having on our business community and especially our SMB community and we want to make sure we are there for them. More details on that to come.
I put out today along with the Lieutenant Governor at around noontime for all state employees a work from home authorization and directives, and that will take effect no later than Wednesday. So, this is for the tens of thousands of state employees. It will depend from department to department what that actually ultimately looks like. We’ll probably have more details for you tomorrow on that, but that directive was sent out as I said today at noon from the Lieutenant Governor and myself. And that again, we have to walk the talk. So, when we say to the business community working from home is a huge preference right now, we have to be living that as a state government reality. And with this we are.
I want to spend a minute before I thank some folks and turn it over to Judy, I want to spend a minute on social distancing. And obviously, working from home is a part of that and that’s a good segue into the broader topic. So, we thank the many thousands, maybe millions of residents who have taken the notion of social distancing to heart and who are doing their part to mitigate the spread of illness. And we’ll have more of this tomorrow but not enough is being done. There is too much business as usual, and we need – not most of us but all of us – to follow suit. This is something that none of us can be cavalier about.
And a particular shoutout to our young folks who may feel hey, the virus isn’t hitting them as much, although we do have teenagers in our positives list. But as a general matter that’s generally true. They may feel healthy but What if they’re asymptomatic and carrying the virus and they’re in the midst of a grandparent or a parent, or an educator or a coach or something? A population that might be much more vulnerable to the coronavirus. So, even if you’re young and you feel entirely healthy you can still spread this.
So, we need not just most of us to take the social distancing to heart. We need everybody to do this. And we are working around the clock and expect to hear more from me personally and from us generally tomorrow on steps we’re going to take to much more aggressively enforce that. And obviously, closing schools is a big step in that direction; work from home for the largest employer in the state, which is the state government, is a big step in that direction. And so, in that spirit we will be considering and almost certainly taking more steps. Stay tuned tomorrow.
I mentioned I wanted to thank some folks. I have to recognize everyone who is working on the frontlines of our response, from the public health workers, bless their hearts, to janitors and custodians, to the people stocking the grocery store shelves. There are heroes among us up and down this state. And it will take our entire New Jersey family pulling together for us to emerge from this emergency stronger than before and we will do just that, assuming we all do our part. I will say again unequivocally that we will get through this – not unscathed, not without mistakes – but we will get through this. And we will emerge stronger as one family than never before.
As I mentioned, we’ll have more announcements as warranted and I think there’ll be a number of them tomorrow in addition to the school plan. We’re committed as I said from day one to being proactive, transparent, not being dragged by this but getting out ahead of it, and by being smart and not panicking. We accept the anxiety; we understand it. Who couldn’t? We appreciate it but it’s time for us to be smart, for each and every one of us to do our part. That’s what we’re committed to and that means all of us, not just some of us. And if we do that we will get through this stronger than ever together.
With that, one of the heroes out there and her team in particular, in addition to Judy, Assistant Commissioner Chris Neuwirth I know is with her; our State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan is with her. I just want to give Judy and her team, those three names but the entire squad, my huge respect and thanks for the extraordinary work they’re doing with that. Judy, over to you.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon everyone.
Last night, Governor Murphy announced New Jersey’s second death related to novel coronavirus. This Monmouth County woman had contact with a confirmed case. That confirmed case had a nexus with a confirmed case in Bergen County. Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with this individuals’ family during this particularly difficult time.
We continue to see the cases of COVID-19 rise in the state. As we see cases increasing, we’re going to see more measures taken to encourage social distancing in the state. For example, yesterday, the Mayor of Teaneck asked residents to self-quarantine. And as I outlined yesterday, Bergen County is taking aggressive mitigation steps and the City of Newark recently announced similar actions.
Social distancing is vital to decrease the spread of COVID-19. These measures are common-sense approaches to limiting face-to-face contacts which reduces person-to-person transmission. I reiterate what the Governor just said. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take personal responsibility and avoid gatherings both small and definitely large. We strongly encourage restricting visitors to all of our licensed healthcare facilities. We have already required that long-term care facilities restrict visitors except for end-of-life situations.
Mass gatherings and community events bring people from multiple communities into close contact with each other, and they have the potential to increase the COVID-19 spread. Even smaller gatherings have the potential to spread COVID-19. A family gathering in Monmouth County has resulted in the one death we reported and several positive cases for the people who attended that gathering. Again, it is critical that older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease lower their risk of exposure. These individuals are more likely to develop serious outcomes including organ failure and death.
We certainly understand the public’s concerns about testing availability, and we are working with the County Executives to set up testing options for our residents. I know all the actions being taken can cause concern, but that is all part of the public health response to reduce the impact on our state. As I said yesterday, we can expect cases in communities across the state to increase. We are now in 13 of 21 counties, and yes, our lives will change as a result of this novel coronavirus. Our lives will change as we work together to protect our state. I continue to ask anyone who does not feel well to stay home and call your healthcare provider if necessary.
Today we are reporting 31 new positive cases from the following counties: Bergen County reports 7, Hudson County reports 6, Monmouth County 4, Essex County 4, Passaic County 3, Union County 3, Ocean County 1, Burlington County 1, Morris County 1, and Middlesex County 1. We have nine females, 22 males. The ages range from a low of 30 to a high of 77.
As these cases come in from commercial labs, we are trying to reconcile them on a daily basis. We will continue to report cases on a county basis as individual town statistics change rapidly. As we mentioned on the call yesterday, the commercial labs are calling the local Health Departments with their results, so locally they sometimes are getting the results directly before those results are entered into our Communicable Disease Surveillance System.
Today, as some of you might know Mayor Baraka of Newark and University Hospital CEO Dr. Elnahal announced that there are 11 positive cases in Newark. A healthcare worker who lives in Bergen County but works at University Hospital tested positive yesterday. This individual has been in self-quarantine since March 6th. They have notified hospital staff and those at risk have been tested. They are currently in the process of notifying patients who may have bene in contact with this healthcare worker. This is a continuing investigation.
I bring it up to emphasize that we know our healthcare workers are most at risk. They are on the frontlines and we are working with them to get them more personal protective equipment. In partnership with the New Jersey Hospital Association, we are going to be moving personal protective equipment from our warehouse, from the shipment we received yesterday. We are going to be moving the PPE from our warehouse this afternoon to the most critically impacted hospitals and counties with the most cases.
Events are changing quickly and we know that many people are anxious and concerned. We understand that. I encourage the public to stay informed and up to date on current information by following the New Jersey Department of Health on social media and visiting our website at www.nj.gov/health.
Again, we remind people that you should stay home when you are sick and overall, everyone should limit their social interactions. The Department, local health officials and healthcare providers are working around the clock to respond to these cases and implement efforts to protect the health of all New Jersey residents. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, so well said. Before Marlene comes on, just to say obviously we’ll do an extensive Q&A today, but as we have indicated on Friday as we did yesterday on the phone, and I’ll just reiterate today – and I know Sheila joins me on this, she previewed this last week. We have been very proactive on the testing front. And I can’t promise you an hour of a day, but we are pursuing a number of different avenues, and Judy has taken the lead on this, that will dramatically increase both our intake capabilities as well as our testing capabilities.
So, that’s just a theme I wanted to reiterate that we had mentioned over the past couple of days and we’ll have more to say on that over the next couple. So Judy, thank you to you and your team for everything you’re doing, extraordinary work with that. We’d love to ask the Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance to give us a quick sense of that letter that I signed today and the rationale behind it as it relates to reopening up enrollment for the Affordable Care Act for both uninsured and underinsured. Please help us welcome Marlene Caride.
Deparment of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride: Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon everyone.
As the state responds to the COVID-19 situation, we want to ensure that residents have the coverage that they need to access testing and treatment. We have taken actions to require carriers regulated by the state to waive cost sharing for COVID-19 testing. However, we can do more and in this case we need the federal government’s assistance.
Clearly, we do not want residents to be apprehensive about seeking treatment because they are not insured or concerned about medical bills. As many of you know, the state is currently transitioning to state-based exchanged which will be in place in November. However, because at this time we operate as a state-based exchange on the federal platform with enrollments through the www.healthcare.gov site, we rely on the federal government to establish a special enrollment period to allow consumers to enroll outside of the open enrollment period.
As the Governor has mentioned, a number of states with state-based exchanges have already put in place a special enrollment period in response to COVID-19. We are asking the federal government to establish a special enrollment period for at least 60 days for all eligible uninsured and underinsured residents to purchase health coverage thorough the federal platform, and for that coverage to be in place as soon as possible. CMS has taken actions similar to this in the past for major weather events and created a special enrollment period. And creating a special enrollment period will allow our residents here in New Jersey who are uninsured or underinsured to enroll in health benefit plans through www.healthcare.gov. We think access to coverage is critical to managing this outbreak and ensuring residents get the care they need.
So, I want to thank you, Governor, for the actions that you’ve taken, for your advocacy for this action at the federal level; and for your work across the state to address the public health emergency. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Marlene, thank you so much for that and for all of your work and your team.
Alex Zdan, News12: Hello, Governor. I wanted to ask you right off the top why have you not made the decision yet to close the casinos? It’s obviously a large area but a lot of the people that go there may be elderly, a lot of the workers may not have health insurance. Isn’t it an unnecessary risk to keep the casinos open at this point in time?
Governor Phil Murphy: So Alex, the rationale so far has been first of all, any gatherings of 250 or more we’ve strongly recommended against up and down the state. That includes the casinos and clearly their entertainment programs have been cancelled as a result. You probably are hearing us hinting at the fact that we will likely revisit that 250 number but put that aside for a moment. Up until now we have felt that the casino floors are so expansive that the ability to keep social distancing has been acceptable. Having said that, that is something that we are constantly reconsidering. So, bear with us on that. They remain open for the time being but that is under intense consideration at the moment. Thank you.
Brent Johnson, Star-Ledger: Hi Governor, how are you? So, the work from home thing that went out today, I just want to make sure I’m clarified on it. Is it mandating that state employees work from home? Is this a broad thing? I just want a little more detail. What did you send out today and what can we expect?
Governor Phil Murphy: So my folks, I think Matt Platkin is on the line and I think this is something we’d be very happy to send you. We can do that. It doesn’t mandate it but it authorizes it. And how it’s executed, we literally had a front office meeting, a telephonic meeting on exactly what the implications would be for our group in the front office. Each of the departments and agencies will be different but this authorizes it, and again, it will depend on the department. Human Services, you have a lot of people in their operation who are in the field. In Marlene’s neck of the woods, in DOBI you’ve got a lot of regulators in a building. So, it will depend on which department you’re looking at but it’s nothing that we’re keeping a secret. We’re very happy to send that out.
Charlie Kratovil, New Brunswick Today: Yes, good afternoon, Governor, and thank you for making yourself available. I neglected to say yesterday that I’m so very happy you’re making a recovery and wish you the very best. I wanted to ask you about elections. I believe the next scheduled election is March 31st in Atlantic City and then there’s of course April school board elections. What impact do you see the crisis having on those processes and functions of the government?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I was just updated on this this morning. The Lieutenant Governor has been right in the middle of this. So, we have elections in March; we’ve got them in April, we’ve got them in May; we actually have a primary in June. We’ve got a petition filing deadline this month. We are actively reviewing all of the above options with respect to things like petition submissions, election dates, the extent to which vote by mail is used. It is a work in progress and we expect to have an announcement very soon. Thank you.
David Wildstein, NJ Globe: Hi Governor, how are you? I was going to ask a similar question to Charlie but I wanted to ask more about vote by mail. Is a contingency plan being developed to have an entirely vote by mail primary or an entirely vote by mail school board or [any election] races?
Governor Phil Murphy: So, too early to say anything definitive, David. We are working on this as we’re speaking. As I mentioned, the Lieutenant Governor is deeply involved through both her Lieutenant Governor hat and DCA hat, Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, our team at a minimum. They’re working this very hard. Too early to tell but much more aggressive use of vote by mail even in the extreme is certainly a consideration that we’re looking at. But when we have something specific to say which I would expect is in a matter of days, we will let everybody know. Many thanks.
Brian Thompson, NBC: Thank you, Governor, and everybody there, I appreciate it. A question for the Commissioner please. The family gathering in Monmouth County, do we know where the initial source was that impacted, that brought that infection to that family, or a family member who travelled either out of the country or had contact with somebody through some sort of community contact?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yes, we believe that the contact was between a member that attended the gathering and the Bergen County individual who unfortunately expired, I believe was our first death.
Brian Thompson, NBC: And then, if I can do another question, please Governor, for you. My information is that the local unit of the Statute of Liberty/Ellis Island is recommending to Washington, DC that those two attractions shut down and that the Washington Interior Department has still not made the final decision. What would your recommendation to the federal government be about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty?
Governor Phil Murphy: Brian, this is the first I’m hearing of this. Perhaps some of my colleagues have heard this already, so I’m giving you an off the top of my head answer. I think any amount of restriction of that large gatherings of people are probably smart moves to make. Having said that, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are as iconic to this immigrant nation as any two institutions I think in our entire country. But if I get a better handle, if and when we get a better handle on where that stands we’ll get back to you.
May I say something? I want to clarify, I want to make sure on Brent Johnson’s question on work at home for state employees, if Brent’s still listening. I want to make sure while it is not mandatory… That’s why I said we authorized it. It’s not mandatory in the sense that everybody’s required to work from home. But what is mandatory is that every department in every part of government, state government, has to adopt the work from home policies wherever they can. And that’s at latest by this Wednesday. So, we’re giving basically 72 hours to every department to come up with that plan. Many thanks.
Ashley Balcerzak, Bergen Record: Hello, Governor. So, I have a question about workers who don’t feel safe going to work and want to stay home, but they are not sick, they don’t have a family member that’s sick, they don’t have a child with a school closure. Your website is very helpful but it doesn’t answer that type of a question. So, what happens if a worker can’t afford to take a day off work but does not feel comfortable going into work? And to follow up on this, if the federal labor measures pass having to do with leave and earned sick leave, how would that interact with our existing New Jersey policy? Would they be used in tandem, would you pick one over the other? Would you kind of explain how that would work?
Governor Phil Murphy: So, on the latter, and this is the case with lots of laws that are at the state level and they either collide or overlap with federal laws, we would basically adhere to the highest standard. And as I mentioned yesterday I believe, we enter this healthcare crisis with a lot of assets including the quality of our hospital systems and healthcare networks and the extraordinary qualifications of our healthcare workers; but also things like earned sick leave and paid family leave and etc. And some of that is obviously overlapping with the federal bill that was voted on by the House on Friday night and God willing will be voted on by the Senate soon enough. So, that’s a normal working through that we would anticipate would happen here as well. Listen, I can’t speak for any… To your question, I can’t speak for every employer and my colleagues may want to weigh in here. But I’ll be darned if an employee says to you, “I don’t feel comfortable coming to work. Please, can I work from home?” I’ll be a sun of a gun if the answer to that is no. And if it is no, I think we’d like to hear about that at the Department of Labor because this is a time when we’re encouraging that. We’re actually walking the talk at the state level and not just asking the private sector to do that. I think that’s a policy, it’s one of the best social distancing policies we can deploy and that is to allow folks to work in the space and the confines of their own home. Thank you for that.
Tom Bergeron, ROI New Jersey: A question for you, if you could talk a little bit more about getting people to take this more seriously, especially in the idea of you have Teaneck practically in a complete lockdown and you have South Jersey with virtually no cases. Working that from a statewide angle, how do you impress upon everybody that this is serious when a lot of people are not seeing it yet?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, and by the way, there’s behavior in counties where there are plenty of cases such as my own in Monmouth County where you’ve got bars. I had some friends reporting to me from restaurants and bars in Asbury Park last night that were chockablock. I got nothing against people, you know, God knows we want a vibrant small business community and restaurant and taverns and all that sort of stuff, but this isn’t the time. So, I think whether or not you’ve had a case in your particular county – Judy I think mentioned this: 13 counties have cases, eight do not yet. It’s inevitable that all 21 I’m certain will have cases. We need to deploy I think much more aggressive statewide action to make sure people are shaken from this business as usual. It’s one thing to understand anxiety which we do; it’s another thing to say it’s no time to panic. It isn’t any time to panic. But you can also say at the same time this is not business as usual. Almost anybody who’s an expert here will tell you the next seven to 14 days will define in our country the shape of the curve, that curve that we’re trying to flatten. So Tom, I don’t have all those, all of the answers for you, but by tomorrow I think you’re going to hear us taking a number of steps. You’re already hearing us: statewide school shutdown, state employees work from home policies – those are two big steps. The 250-person max was a big step and we may have to get more aggressive. So, watch that space over the next coming days. Many thanks.
David Madden, KYW News Radio: Thank you, Governor, for taking my call. I wanted to address a question to the Health Commissioner. The last couple of days we had heard I think on Friday about the possibility of community spread; haven’t heard much since then. I’m just wondering have we had any confirmed cases where there might be community spread? And if so, where?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I’m going to let Dr. Tan the State Epidemiologist respond to that.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan: This is Tina. So, we know that we have many cases that have associations with confirmed cases, but we have a lot of other cases that don’t have known sources of exposure. Certainly that indicates that there is community spread in that regard. We have to be mindful though that with these new cases that are being identified, for many of the counties there’s still isolated cases, [spread] cases in some of these counties; and that there’s opportunities for local health departments to do some containment efforts at the same time. But we have to look at containment and mitigation. It’s not an on/off type of switch; it’s kind of like, as the CDC has put it, kind of a light dimmer. So, as you’re working on containment efforts when you can, when you have these isolated cases you’re still thinking about do we need to do to improve social distancing and to improve community mitigation efforts to prepare for more cases that will likely have further spread in the state?
Governor Phil Murphy: Thanks, Dr. Tan. Thanks, David.
Daniel Munoz, NJBIZ: Hey, Governor. So, you mentioned earlier today about the potential statewide curfew. Can you sort of elaborate on that? It really seems to suggest that that could be what you’re going to roll out tomorrow and more aggressive measures.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I’m not sure if I referenced that earlier but it’s something we’re looking very seriously at. We just, again, we have to shake us from business as usual. And as I say, the next couple of weeks based on any expert is going to define the shape of the curve in many respects. And again, this is not the time to panic. It just isn’t. But we’ve got to be smart and aggressive, and looking at curfews is certainly on the list under intense consideration right now. Thank you for that.
Alex Egan, Asbury Park Press: Hi, good afternoon. I have a question for the Commissioner, actually two questions if you don’t mind, both in Monmouth County. The first, I was wondering if you could clarify the connection between Monmouth County… I couldn’t quite tell from your remarks earlier whether the patient who unfortunately died at CentraState was somehow connected to the patient who also unfortunately died in Bergen County.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: The person who expired at CentraState was a relative of the individual who was connected to the Bergen County case.
Alex Egan, Asbury Park Press: The Bergen County fatal case?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yes.
Alex Egan, Asbury Park Press: Okay. And then I’m sorry, we had reports of a possible second exposure incident at Bayshore Medical Center. Is there any truth to that or are those spurious?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I’m sorry, would you repeat that?
Alex Egan, Asbury Park Press: We had unconfirmed reports that there had been some sort of exposure incident, a second exposure incident at Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: My understanding is there was an exposure in the emergency room that has caused a number of healthcare workers, primarily nurses to go into quarantine. And as a result, their ability to keep the emergency room at full capacity as been hindered and they are diverting. As of yesterday they were diverting patients from their emergency room to other organizations.
Alex Egan, Asbury Park Press: I apologize. The report had been that there had been an incident separate to the first incident. Was it only just the one?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: A second incident at Bayshore?
Alex Egan, Asbury Park Press: Yes, ma’am.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: There has not been a second incident of exposure at Bayshore.
Nancy Solomon, WNYC: Hi, Governor, I’m glad you’re feeling better. I have a few questions all related to hospitals and the provision of healthcare. Can you lay out what the capacity is in New Jersey for ICU beds, how many there are and what the capacity is for expanding those beds, the number of beds? Do we have hospitals that can create popup units under a tent or anything like that? And then, finally I’d like you to respond to what Governor Cuomo’s calling for. He’s asking the President to send in the Army Corps of Engineers to build hospitals or to convert buildings like college campus dormitories into hospitals and to do it immediately.
Governor Phil Murphy: Let me start with just a general answer, and then Judy can come in as usual with the right and technically correct answer. Governor Cuomo literally just called me while I’ve been on this call five minutes ago so he and I will speak after this. I have not seen specifically his plans. But between the President’s declaration of a state of emergency on Friday and the House bill that was passed on Friday night, I had a good conversation with the Vice President on Friday night – we’ve got a VTC with him and his team tomorrow. We need federal help. There’s just no question about it. I know we need explicitly PPE help right now, personal protective equipment. We got a fraction of our ask Thursday night into Friday and that’s a good thing but we’re burning through that very much so. We need more, we need to get more of that. That’s our number one priority. Down the road we’re going to need the feds to help us particularly with the economy and with the small business community. That’s a down the road but real reality. And then, Judy will answer this question, will give you the answer in terms of the beds and her team, but we have been constantly from moment one – and this goes back to January – looking at the sort of degrees at which we could expand capacity. And so, with that I’ll turn it over to Judy. Thank you.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Sure. Thank you, Governor. The first thing we looked at in terms of our hospital capacity was how many licensed beds we have in the state and how many are actually maintained. And just in terms of our licensed bed compliment, we feel we have enough licensed beds in the organization. My understanding is we currently have 1983 adult ICU beds and about 16,400 medical/surgical beds. Medical/surgical beds can be converted to critical care beds pretty easily. It’s really about the technology and the ability to provide the appropriate level of nursing care and physician oversight. We also know that we have over 700 negative pressure isolation rooms amongst all of our hospitals which at this point we feel definitely can handle the demand that we have right now. However, we are working with the New Jersey Hospital Association to look at what would happen in case of a significant surge and we’re actually planning for that. We’re looking at hospitals that have closed over the last several years to determine if they can easily be brought up online to handle a surge. We’re also working with the Hospital Association to look at partnering university hospitals with community hospitals to be able to use available beds in the community hospital at a higher level of service. We also have under the emergency powers to initiate waivers where needed and we’ve already… We are already looking and have already initiated some waivers to allow beds to be used interchangeably based on the needs of the community and what’s the need of the individual hospital.
Dustin Racioppi, Bergen Record: Two questions. Are you recommending that bars close on St. Patrick’s Day and what plans are being considered if any to help the business community that is going to suffer from whatever effects this coronavirus will have, whether it’s closings or a curfew? Any other plans that you’re going to announce in the next couple of days?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I mentioned in my remarks so on the former, Dustin, we’re looking at everything. And again, whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or any day, we’ve got to shake the state from a business as usual to a different place. And we believe with all our hearts we can do that without engendering higher anxiety. In fact, I think we can lower the anxiety by doing that. So, whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday or any day, we’re looking at some pretty aggressive steps even beyond the aggressive ones we’ve taken. I mentioned we set up in my remarks a website for small businesses to answer their questions. It’s too early to tell but we will clearly need a huge amount of support for them, particularly small businesses. And we’ve spent a lot of time with our delegation because a lot of that support is going to come out of the federal coffers. But it’s too early to give you specifics at this point other than to say they are in our hearts ands minds. They are suffering mightily as a result off this and we know that, we get it. And we will work as aggressively as we can to get them back on their feet and compensate them for what will be a challenging period. Thank you.
Erin Vogt, New Jersey 101.5 News: Good afternoon, Governor. Thank you for making yourself available. So, I just wanted to check in, I know you had said a couple days ago that when it comes to making testing more widespread the private sector is really going to be what comes through. I’ve seen today that there is a drive-through facility set up in Secaucus and I saw at the Newark press conference that the Essex County Executive mentioned he had a request for two such facilities when they’re able to be made available. So, I was just looking for an approximation as to where we stand as a state with more drive-through facilities?
Governor Phil Murphy: Erin, I’m not sure I’m comfortable giving you an exact day but this is a matter of days. And Judy can give you more details, and we’ve just got to make sure we do it right and we’re committed to that. But I mentioned on Friday on my first day back that I would hope that a week from that day – so, that is as of this coming Friday – our testing capabilities would have dramatically increased. And remember, that’s both intake of specimens as well as the testing itself and the protocols that go with that. Judy has been working nonstop on a whole range of things but including this front, and my guess is that we’ll start in places where we’ve got the most amount of cases and exposure. So, I would think that Bergen would be at or near the top of the list in terms of a drive-through location. But it’s a model that we want to be able to spread around the entire state. And again, the private sector laboratories doing the testing will be hugely important because they’re going to have the scale and the speed that we just don’t have within either the state or the hospital systems. Judy, is that fair? Anything you want to add to that?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, definitely. We’re working on that. In fact, after this call I have a scheduled call at 5:00 with the County Executives to discuss their needs. We’re looking in two directions. One is a drive through and also the ability particularly for symptomatic people who are not feeling well to be able to do specimen collections in their homes. So, we’re going in two directions with this so that we make sure we cover everybody safely.
Monica Guy, Chasing News: Good afternoon, Governor. I’m glad that you’re feeling well. So, just getting back to small businesses, you mentioned earlier that employers, in terms of paying their employees salaries for small businesses. You mentioned that there might be, if they’re unable to pay those salaries given the lack of business, it might impede them from applying for federal assistance? Can you clarify that a little bit please?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I’m not sure I’ve got much more to offer on that but they can’t claim the assistance if they don’t show the need. So, if they haven’t paid the individuals, and please God, this is the worst time I can remember in the state’s modern history where folks have not paid people. So, [I’m not sure] there’s a lot of that going on. But if they don’t show that they’ve got an outlay of the money to pay the employee they can’t then later on claim any assistance in compensation of that. I think it’s no more complicated than that. And again, the small business community is one we’ve got our eye very closely on because inevitably and invariably they’re paying a huge price for this. Thank you for that.
Katherine Landergan, POLITICO: Hi. Two questions. One, Senate President Steve Sweeny proposed yesterday a two-month holiday from the sales tax. He’s also seeking suspension of payroll taxes and deferred property tax payments. I just was wondering just your initial thoughts on those, is that something you would potentially support of not? And then, my second question, just kind of as a more general matter because I’ve had people asking me this, just friends and family members. If people have routine medical visits scheduled right now, physicals, things like that, should they just not be going to the hospital? I mean, do you have any general recommendations for people who are healthy and otherwise don’t want to overcrowd the hospitals right now?
Governor Phil Murphy: I’ll give the first and then an anecdote on the second, but as usual, Judy will have the answer. Listen, I don’t think any of the ideas that Steve raised are bad ones, and the notion of providing people relief is hugely important right now. We have to do it responsibly, so making sure that we can still run the entire state if we don’t short suit ourselves on thee revenue side is obviously something we have to look at. And I don’t want to use this as a commercial for recurring revenue but there’s nothing like recurring revenue, and that includes sales tax but more importantly it includes the millionaires tax. And the tax crisis we have in our state is the property tax crisis. That’s the tax crisis of New Jersey and it’s a middle-class crisis. And so, anything we can do to relieve that is something that we’d very much seriously look at. Katherine, as a personal matter, as a guy who just got out of the hospital eight days ago, I had a chest x-ray on Wednesday at a local medical facility. I then gave blood on Friday at a different one. I didn’t hesitate personally to go into either; it just didn’t even occur to me. So, I personally think as a citizen that folks need to make sure they’re keeping up with their regular appointments. But Judy’s going to have a better answer than that.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, I think it’s really important that you keep up with your appointments. And if your individual community hospital or provider feels that they’re overwhelmed and perhaps you can delay a certain test or a certain visit they will call you. I know throughout the state some hospitals are postponing elective surgeries for a number of weeks. The Surgeon General has encouraged hospitals to look carefully at elective procedures, and quite frankly the reason being – not that it’s not important for you to have these procedures but it’s important for us to preserve the protective equipment that is used during these procedures. So, your hospital will keep you informed and so will your medical provider. But if you need a mammography I would say definitely get your mammography, things like that that should not be delayed because they’re life-saving in the long run. I would just encourage you to continue doing that until and unless your healthcare provider says something different.
Governor Phil Murphy: Katherine, just to come back on the first point again. We’re open minded to any relief. A sales tax holiday for a month is about $1 billion so this is real money. That’s the only thing I want to make sure. We’ve got to make sure we keep the sate moving forward responsibly as a fiscal matter as well. So, we have to take all of that into account. Thank you for that, though.
Caesar Darias, Darias News: Governor, you emphasized several times about social distancing. Yesterday I took a walk on the Weehawken Waterfront where there’s a playground – it was packed. I didn’t shoot video because there were little kids – packed with kids and parents! Then we have Elizabeth High School, as of right now I’m looking at their website. They are in session tomorrow. I believe that is the largest high school in the country with multiple buildings. Is the message getting through and what would you say to them? And the second question is, and I’ve been trying to ask this of all officials. It’s 18 years since 9/11. A major concern that year was chemical and biological attacks. Enormous amounts of money have been spent preparing for that, and I just can’t understand – I’m not necessarily asking you personally – I cannot understand any local officials especially in the New York Metropolitan Area saying, “We are not ready for this. We don’t have enough equipment for this.” This is exactly what has been anticipated, a biological issue, for 18 years. What was all that money spent on? Where is all that equipment? That’s my second question.
Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, thank you. So, the first question is, I mean I’ve said this a number of times. I guess Elizabeth High School in fairness, we are likely tomorrow going to announce what has been inevitable – the statewide closing of schools. So again, why tomorrow and not today? Our folks have been working literally 24 hours a day. This has lots of unintended consequences that we have to make sure we get out ahead of – food insecurity, the only hot meal a kid might get is through school in a given day. We’ve got 259,000 kids in our state with no devices at home; daycare implications just to pick three, childcare implications. So, having said that, it is quite clear that we are far too much in a business as usual mode. So, your observations are consistent with mine and that has got to change. And we will do everything we can. Again, you should expect to see us, we’re tying to circle in on a series of steps that I think we’ll be announcing more specifics tomorrow. We have got to shake this state out of business as usual and we’ve got to do it in the next 24 hours, and we will do everything we can to do that. That doesn’t mean we need to panic. That’s not it at all. There’s anxiety, we get it. We think we can lessen anxiety but business as usual ain’t getting it done. As it relates to chemical and biological, above my pay grade. I’ve been here for just over two years. I take this stuff seriously; our team takes this stuff seriously. A lot of this is Washington based and that’s over generations of administrations. I’m not personally up to speed on the history. I share with you the frustration that, as an example, when we were asking from the strategic stockpile for personal protective equipment or so-called PPE, it seems to me more should be forthcoming sooner. This seems to me this is something we all could have anticipated. But I’ve also at the same time got to spend most of my time playing the hand that I have been dealt, and that’s what we’re trying to do and maximize that hand. So, thanks for that, Cesar.
Chuck O’Donnell, TAPinto New Brunswick: Hey Governor, how are you today? News about the professor at Rutgers testing positive has reverberated through this part of the state. Have you been in touch with President Barchi or is there more you can share with us about the situation at Rutgers right now?
Governor Phil Murphy: I’m loathe to get into, and I assume Judy will join me – we’re loathe to get into talking about the specifics of anybody’s case. Obviously, Rutgers is one of the most important institutions we have in our state. We take its faculty, its students, its staff as seriously as we take anything. I don’t know, Judy, if there’s anything in general you want to comment on that?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, I’m with you, Governor. And candidly I’m looking at general numbers, how it may affect the statewide picture. I don’t get involved in any individual case unless we think that there’s a significant reason to get involved.
Staci Berger, Bergen Record: Hey Governor, thank you for taking all our questions. I was just curious to back up I guess to the possibility of a statewide curfew. Do you know what the legal authority is, like what law would allow you to do that? And then, what would limiting people’s movements for a couple hours accomplish?
Governor Phil Murphy: Staci, I’m not going to be able to give you the why’s but I can give you the what, and the what is I do have that authority. And based on what…. Alex Altman is on the line. I’ll get Alex to follow up with you once we can get a specific answer. What do I think, if we were to do this – and again, we’re not making that announcement today. It’s something we’re looking at very seriously. I saw too many videos last night of packed bars, people passing bottles, drinking from the same bottle; literally clogged on top of each other. In short of shutting the entire state down, clipping establishments by a number of hours each night in particular we believe will have a meaningful positive outcome in terms of social distancing. I’m not sure there’s any magic in picking a particular time but if we go ahead with that we’re going to go ahead and be aggressive. Thank you for that.
Brent Johnson, Star-Ledger: Hi, two questions. One, the school closings tomorrow, what will happen to private schools? Is it only public schools? And then a numbers question. Do we have a total county-by-county list available and not just new county-by-county cases? Do we know a newer number and the number of people who are under testing overall?
Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, so on the former, the answer is we’ll be shutting because that’s the way the law works, the public education system. And we’re going to go through exactly… Dr. Repollet and Col. Callahan tomorrow will go through exactly how we’re going to do that. We have had voluminous, constructive, regular conversations with players across the private sector school reality, whether they be private schools, religious schools, all of the above. We are highly confident that folks will follow suit. We see no meaningful expectation to the contrary. Judy, do you want to go through the totals by county? Would you be able to do that?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, I think I gave all the totals in my opening comments but let me… I’m going to give the total-total that adds up to 98. And you can get this on our website. I encourage you to look at the dashboard on the Department of Health website. Bergen County, 32; Middlesex… And I just want to say, this was at a point in time about an hour or two ago – 11:00 AM, my staff just told me that. So, these are evolving numbers. This is what we have at 11:00 AM: Bergen 32, Middlesex 11, Monmouth 12, Essex 11, Hudson 10, Burlington 4, Morris 4, Camden 2, Passaic 5, Mercer 1, Ocean County 2, Somerset County 1, Union 3.
Governor Phil Murphy: Judy, I don’t think we’ve got the total amount tested only because I know the answer to this but the private sector… The good news is the private sector players, they scale up there extremely fast, all of which is good. But we have less say than what we do with our own testing, is that fair?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Right, exactly.
Governor Phil Murphy: I want to go back and just re-hit something. I undervalued my authority here as it relates to schools and private schools. I should say this, I’m still stuck in a gear from Friday. Actually, we can shut private schools. We just did some analysis on this a short while ago and it’s a rapidly moving target as you can imagine. But we have that authority, and assuming we go forward tomorrow which we will as a general matter, we will exercise it. Thank you.
Tracey Tulley, New York Times: Hi, everyone. Not to be brisk, I do have two very specific questions. Governor, are you going to close public and private schools tomorrow statewide, yes or no?
Governor Phil Murphy: The answer is with 99% certainty yes.
Tracey Tulley, New York Times: What’s the 1%? I mean, I don’t understand why you’re giving yourself that out.
Governor Phil Murphy: Let me tell you why. We have 210,000 kids in this state who rely on schools for food. I’ve got to make sure every one of those kids gets a meal when this goes effective. We’ve got 259,000 kids in this school by a survey who don’t have a device or access to a device at home. We have significant childcare realities, many of whom by the way overlap with healthcare workers. So, I don’t want to just get a sugar high and close the schools which we will do. That’s inevitable and overwhelmingly certainly tomorrow. But when I say that the Commissioner and the Colonel have bene working and their teams 24 hours a day to make sure that we can abide by the commitments I just made a second ago, I’m not overstating it. And that’s the reason.
Tracey Tulley, New York Times: Okay. And second question for the Commissioner. The 69-year-old Little Ferry resident that died, the first person that died in the state, was that individual at a party, a family gathering with the 50-something woman whose death was linked last night to coronavirus?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I don’t have that specific case.
Tracey Tulley, New York Times: You indicated that the person who died was the connective tissue between the first person that died and the second person that died, or did I mishear that?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Let me clarify that the individual who recently expired was related to a brother who was a sibling of the person who expired in Bergen County. So, the brother was friends with the Bergen County individual.
Tracey Tulley, New York Times: Okay, I see, but not necessarily related to the Bergen County individual but it was a family gathering. And the woman whose death was linked last night, did she have underlying health issues?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Not that I know of.
Pat Robinson, NJ Hills Media Group: Hi Governor, hi Commissioner. I’ll make this real fast. In regards to the potential school closings have you nailed down a duration yet?
Governor Phil Murphy: Lamont, could you address the specific question of duration?
Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet: Yes. Again, we have not come down with an exact number yet, because as Governor Murphy mentioned we are assessing that situation. So, working with our State Troopers we’re going to look at some of the deployment and resources we have out there, especially when it comes to food distribution. And as we start to maintain and have constant communication with the superintendents we’ll probably gather that information. So, we might come out with more of a short-term than a long-term depending on what the Commissioner of Health is indicating in regards to how it’s looking for us. So, I think as the Governor says, it’s a little bit more fluid. It’s not easy for us to just come up with a broad number. I know a lot of districts in the state have mentioned maybe two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. So we’re going to be making that decision possibly, most likely in the next couple days to look at how our two-week period may butt up against Spring Break and see exactly how we can extend that period of time. And also, based on scientific research in regards to school closures, the effect of school closures, whether it’s two weeks or four weeks, that’s where we are right now. But as Governor, he’ll make that announcement tomorrow and we’ll communicate when we have an update as we start to really kind of look at the information we currently have available.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Lamont. And Pat, stay tuned tomorrow. We’ll have an answer for you.
Anthony Vecchione, NJBIZ: Yes, good afternoon, Governor. You mentioned earlier what employees can do if their employers don’t allow them to work from home if they’re scared or not feeling well. Can you elaborate on who they should contact at the Labor Department? Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, Anthony, they should probably go on the Labor Department’s website. I’m going to get Alex Altman to follow up with you and give you the exact either the best website or the best phone number to call. How does that sound, alright? Thank you.
Brian Thompson, NBC: Yes, sorry Governor, a couple more questions but especially for the Commissioner right now. Do you have any updated number for Teaneck? And also for spas and massage parlors – legitimate ones I might add – who are in personal contact with people, has the Health Department given any consideration to these facilities and these employees who are forced to work under these unknown conditions?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I can’t say that that was at the top of our list but it’ll certainly get on the list now. We would put that in the small business bucket and any restrictions that apply to small businesses would apply certainly to massage parlors.
Brian Thompson, NBC: And do you have a number for Teaneck, an updated number please?
Governor Phil Murphy: You mean positive cases in Teaneck?
Brian Thompson, NBC: Yes, positive. Excuse me, mm-hmm.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I’m looking quickly at my list. I have not broken this down by city at this point. We’re focusing on county.
Brian Thompson, NBC: Okay, because it was 18 yesterday.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: In Teaneck?
Brian Thompson, NBC: Yes, when I went to the Mayor and talked about the self-quarantine.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, I have Bergen County. The local health officer will have that information for you.
Brian Thompson, NBC: Okay, thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thanks.
Tom Bergeron, ROI New Jersey: Just wanted to make sure I got the numbers right. So, yesterday there were 69 cases, there’s 31 new ones so wouldn’t that be 100?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, so I mentioned this earlier; here’s the math. 69 yesterday, 1 fatality which we announced last evening – bless the soul of the woman in Monmouth. And then we said 31 new ones today but that 31 includes the fatality last night. So, 31 plus 69 is 100. I mentioned upfront there was one overlap with an out-of-state test and one duplication so that’s why it’s 98.
Tom Bergeron, ROI New Jersey: I see, sorry, I missed the first part. Also, just one additional question about the Tom’s River case involving the Ocean County Health Department talked about a pregnant woman apparently was diagnosed with this. Is that at all connected to the Monmouth County situation and the CentraState? I heard that maybe they attended the same party or something? I don’t know.
Governor Phil Murphy: So again, I’m going to make a general statement that we’re loathe to get into the particulars of an active case. And I think Judy joins me in that, but Judy, anything you want to add there?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I have nothing to add.
Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, thank you, Tom.
Lisa Kruse, Asbury Park Press: Hi, Governor. In Manchester in Ocean County, after the police and the EMS came into contact with a COVID-19 patient they chose to limit in-person house contacts by police. And they’re urging the public instead to call in their complaints rather than seek in-person visits by the police. I was wondering if that was a recommendation by the state and if that is something we should expect to see statewide as the time rolls on? And then I have a second question regarding the CentraState issue. It’s our understanding that several family members of the woman who died are also at the hospital. Can you confirm that and give us a breakdown of the numbers?
Governor Phil Murphy: Okay, so on the first question Pat Callahan is on. To the best of my knowledge that is not a state mandate by us if it’s in Ocean County or elsewhere at the moment. Is that correct, Pat?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: That is correct, Governor. That’s the first I’ve heard of that. The only, with regards to the question the only thing we’ve asked our dispatchers to do is to ask, if there’s 911 calls or medical assist, just for the protection of our troopers and law enforcement that “Is there an expected case or exposure?” – almost like we ask is there a weapon in the house if we’re going to a domestic violence case. But beyond that, I have not heard of what Ocean County has done.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Pat. Judy, any comment on the second CentraState question?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, we try not to comment on the particular condition of patients but the local health officer who does the contact tracing and follows up on situations like this is the person that should be contacted.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Judy. Thank you, Lisa.
Caesar Darias, Darias News: Question for the Health Commissioner particularly given her nursing background and Dr. Repollet. Our school nurses are on the frontline of this. As far as I can see, I don’t know if there’s been any special coordination in communication to them because, full disclosure, my fulltime job is as a teacher and I’ve never seen… Even when it’s not cold and flu season from the beginning of the school day to the end it’s packed with students. So, please comment on school nurses and their role in this. And I know schools are going to be shut down and not probably open again in two weeks.
Governor Phil Murphy: So Cesar, we’ll give you very quick answers from both Judy and Lamont. But let me just say nurses at schools and nurses at hospitals and nurses anywhere in this state – including our Health Commissioner herself – are our most valuable players, even in times of calm and goodness, never mind times of emergency and challenges that we’re in right now. Judy, to you and Lamont.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Yeah, this is Judy. First of all, thanks for your shoutout about the school nurses and thank you to the reporter who asked about the school nurses. Once we make a final decision on the rest of the schools that are open, as you know almost over half of the schools have already, districts have already made that determination without significant input from us. That was up to their own school boards. Once we do make final decisions for those, school nurses that perhaps will be left without children in the schools to look after, we may call them up to help us in other areas of their counties and states where their expertise would help with the demand.
Governor Phil Murphy: Well said. Lamont, anything you want to add?
Commissioner of Education Dr. Lamont Repollet: Yes, I had a conversation this morning with Neil Eicher. He’s the Vice President of New Jersey Hospital Association. We’ve also had conversations, phone calls to all our stakeholders and definitely the Nursing Association, the School Nurses Association. We’ve been having communication to make sure to see exactly how can we support them during this transition? But I think that Commissioner Persichilli really said it best, and Governor, you talked about the whole of government approach. Well, exactly looking at how can we deploy resources such as our school nurses to actually backfill positions in hospitals because we know that’s something? So, we’re going to be making recommendations along with the Commissioner of Health and supporting her and other sister agencies, to see how we can support all of New Jersey so everyone can use the gap to maybe do something more than what they’re doing right now. But we have been in contact with our Hospital Association and also the School Nurse Association.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you, Lamont.
Ashley Balcerzak, Bergen Record: Thank you very much. My question is, this is the first time that you guys have called a public health emergency under the current state law. Can you tell me important measures you’ve been able to get done because you made that proclamation and what important powers you’ll have under it? Particularly, could you call a statewide quarantine? I’ve read the law and it’s a little confusing to me. It seems that if you’re refusing a vaccine you can tell someone to seek quarantine, but again, this is just from a reporter reading it. So, any insight would be helpful.
Governor Phil Murphy: Ashley, I’m impressed that you did the study of that. I mean, it allows for broad powers and you’re seeing some evidence of that already – the limitation of the size of gatherings, closing of schools, mandating that folks don’t get screwed on their copays when they go for testing, that if you’re a state worker you don’t get screwed on your accumulated sick days just ‘cause you’re ill with corona or you’ve got to take care of a loved one, maybe a kid who’s now going to be home from school. There’s lots of different latitudes that go with it and lots of powers. And I don’t say that with any amount of ego; it’s just a fact. And thank God because right now we’re going to need… We’ve already taken aggressive action. Remember, we started talking about this in January. I formed our first Taskforce on February 2nd or 3rd which Judy has chaired. The state of emergency announced last week, you know, we want to constantly stay out ahead of this. And the broad authorities that we get with declaring this state allows us to better do that. And so, the question is a good one and I promise you we will use those authorities and that power to good use.
I just want to say one last thing, other than thank you, Judy and Marlene, and Judy’s team, Chris and Christina in particularly and my whole squad. You know, assuming we get to the point which we undoubtedly will tomorrow that we’re going to close schools, kids are entitled to Spring Break. And bless their hearts, as long as they’re smart and they practice social distancing, and they do the sorts of things that we’ve been encouraging from day one – wash your hands with soap, cough and sneeze into your sleeve, don’t touch your face, stay home if you don’t feel well – that’s all well and good.
This is not one extended Spring Break by the way, and I want to make sure the parents hear that as well. We need rigorous behavior by all parts of society including kids who are off from school and families. There needs to be structure. There needs to be a complete respect for this notion of social distancing. We’ve taken pretty aggressive steps; you should assume we’re going to take a lot more aggressive steps even within the next 24 hours.
This is not a party boat. This is real, and this curve will be defined in the next seven to 14 days, and it’s up to us, the extent to which we can flatten that curve. All of us have to play our part including yours truly. If we do we’ll flatten that curve and we will get through this. I know that unequivocally, stronger than ever before, but only if each and every one of us does our part. We’ll see you tomorrow 2:00, 225 West State Street. Many thanks.
END OF CALL