Governor Phil Murphy: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for your patience in moving our briefing today to two o'clock in deference to the 9/11 memorials being held today. With me to my right is a woman who needs no introduction, the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli. To my far left, another guy who needs no introduction, the Superintendent of the State Police, Colonel Pat Callahan. I'm very happy to welcome back to the table another terrific leader, to my immediate left, the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, Sue Fulton. Sue, great to have you.
We appear to be down an epidemiologist at the moment, Judy, so we've got an APB out. I know Jared Maples is actually honored to speak at the Empty Sky Memorial on 9/11, and so we know where he is, but we're trying to track down Dr. Ed Lifshitz, among others, but we will persevere.
I've asked Sue to give an update on the efforts at MVC to continue hacking through the backlog that was created by its multi-month closure, as well as the ongoing efforts to mitigate wait times and lines at MVC agencies. We know this is a topic prominently on the minds of a lot of you out there.
Last night, relatedly, I was proud to sign into law two bills that will make the MVC experience a little easier for many people, allowing for more transactions to be conducted online, giving older New Jerseyans and residents with special needs greater access to in-agency services, and extending the deadline for new residents to get their new licenses and vehicle registrations.
Before we get into any of that, today, of course, is September 11th, and it is the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks which left an indelible mark on our nation and our people and certainly in our state; whether they be physical marks, spiritual, mental or otherwise, and we can never forget New Jersey's toll on that awful day and the days that followed with 704 precious lives lost.
This morning, Tammy and I had the tremendous honor again to join the families and former colleagues, as well as elected officials from both sides of the aisle, in paying respects to the souls lost at the site of the World Trade Center. And in our prayers, we included the many others lost at the Pentagon, including colleagues of Sue's, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
As we do every year, Tammy and I walk around the base of each of the towers and it's extraordinary. I think folks know this, but the names are all engraved in those two memorials, including the folks who were lost in the Pentagon and in Shanksville, and you just walk along and say to somebody, very simply, who did you lose that day? Who are you here to memorialize? And we meet every single year extraordinary people, family members, colleagues, just extraordinary stories about lives lost, photographs, notes, flowers, prayers. Certainly, it's incredibly moving.
So as we did, all of us on that day, today we recommit to the values of liberty and community upon which this nation was built. We are a nation of individuals but as the first words of our constitution note, "We The People", and we rise and fall as one. We were knocked down 19 years ago today, but we got back up and showed the world our nation, even when in shock and stricken with grief, comes together. And perhaps with everything we have been facing over these past six months, this is the most pertinent of anniversaries, because we are now forced to martial that inner strength again.
And with that, I must recognize, happily, someone who recently marshaled his inner strength, and that is New Jersey Corrections Officer Chris Stanek. On 9/11, by the way, he was a member of one of the ambulance squads that responded to Lower Manhattan. Two years later, he joined our Department of Corrections and was assigned to the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton in Cumberland County. In May, Chris was admitted to the hospital due to complications from COVID-19. And for the next 111 days, he put up an incredible fight against the virus. He was twice -- not once, Judy, but twice -- placed on a ventilator. He required dialysis. For many, many days it was touch-and-go for Chris.
But here's the good news. On Tuesday of this week, Chris went home, released from a rehabilitation facility and into the arms of his family. Every day we recall three of the New Jerseyans this virus has taken away, but today we celebrate Chris and through him, the many, many, many more New Jerseyans who have beaten this virus. He and they are inspirations.
I had the great honor to speak with Chris yesterday and to join the chorus of those celebrating his recovery, including not only his own family, but his PBA 105 brothers and sisters and their family as well. He still has much work to do, by the way, to get back to full health, but I know he's going to make it and he'll be stronger than ever before. God bless you, buddy. Just as I might add, I know our state will.
If we could switch gears and celebrate another piece of good news, and that is our census efforts have now exceeded those of 2010, with more New Jerseyans having self-responded this year than they did 10 years ago. As of today 67.9% of New Jersey households have self-responded. In 2010 we capped out at 67.6%. Eleven counties, in fact, have surpassed their 2010 totals, and many others are about to cross that threshold in the coming days, which is good because we don't have many days left.
Additionally, with the efforts of community-based census takers going door-to-door included, New Jersey is currently at 89.2% counted. There's still at least 19 days left to go to go on 2020census.gov -- there you go, in big bold letters, and be counted. And when you do that, that's one less door a census taker from your community has to knock on. I thank everyone who's responded, whether it be online or working directly with a census taker. The census is critical for us to prepare for a strong future for our state, as our results are how billions -- literally billions -- of dollars in federal funds are directed, as well as affecting our representation in Congress.
Even though we've passed 2010, we're not stopping until every New Jerseyan is counted, and there are numerous census-related events planned in communities across the state. To find one near you, by the way, please visit census.nj.gov. I was out with texting yesterday with Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, they had held a census party at Plainfield Zoo with, I think it was WBLS was with him, they had a fantastic blowout experience and signed a lot of people up, which is what we need. And remember, responding to the census is quick, it's important, it's safe, and it's our civic duty.
So, another of our civic duties, of course, is voting. On Tuesday, we announced the broad rollout of our new online voter registration tool. But that doesn't mean that we're not going to look to other ways for new voters to be registered. In the Emergency Department at University Hospital in Newark is this kiosk -- there it is -- part of University Hospital's partnership with the nonpartisan and nonprofit organization voteER, Judy, voteER. Pretty cool. The kiosk allows both patients and visitors to University Hospital to access an electronic portal that walks them through the process and prints out a registration application for them to send in. University Hospital, by the way, is the first Hospital in New Jersey to do this and I commend University Hospital President Dr. Shereef Elnahal and Resident Dr. Robert Adrian for their efforts to bring voteER to New Jersey. As the organization notes, there is a direct connection between civic engagement and public health, and we all hope that this kiosk is another step to ensuring a healthy democracy.
And with that, as though by magic, we are joined by the Department of Health's Communicable Disease Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz. Ed, we had the all-points bulletin out for you, but it's a relief and pleasure to see you with us.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Great to have you. Next, before we get to the numbers, a quick update on our efforts to strengthen the contact tracing component that is so critical to our overall efforts to beat back this pandemic. Over the past week, we added an additional 66 contact tracers to our community contact tracing corps, giving us a total now of 1,835 tracers currently on the ground to protect our communities. So statewide, we are now at nearly 21 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, and 20 out of 21 counties have exceeded our original goal of having 15 on the ground for every 100,000 residents. As of now, we can say with confidence that we have the team in place that we need to respond to the new cases coming in, but we will continue our efforts and will further grow our community contact tracing corps over the coming months. That's the good news.
However, having all the tracers we need on the job does not mean that we still don't need the folks they call to cooperate, and that's you all. When our tracers are seeking to make initial contact, 18% of those they are reaching out to don't take the call. That leaves 82%. Overall, 59% of the people our tracers are able to follow up with are refusing to cooperate and provide further context, which means they're batting at about a banjo hitter's, Pat, substitute on the bench, second baseman, an average of 230 right now. That's not going to get you in the Hall of Fame.
We cannot say this enough -- and it's not their fault. They've been incredibly well-trained, they reflect the community, they're members of your community. They are with us. They are with you. Our contact tracers' only job is to protect public health. The questions they ask are basic. As we have noted before, they asked whether the individual who has been exposed has a safe place within their own household in which to self-isolate, and access to a private bathroom to prevent spreading the virus to other family members. They ask whether the person who has been exposed has any special needs, especially regarding their access to food for the 14-day self-quarantine. They ask if the individual who has been exposed is showing any symptoms of COVID-19, and they asked whether the individual may have gone somewhere where others could have been exposed. That's it.
Having contact tracers at the ready is only one half of this equation. The other half is you folks, so please, take the call. Please cooperate and please remember, while we do not ever condone illegal behavior -- for instance, underage drinking, we don't condone that -- this is not about stuff like that. This is about public health. It's not a witch hunt. You're not going to get asked about your kids' basement party. You're not going to get asked about your bank number, your social security number. If you do, hang up. This is about public health. It's about, we're all in this together. We need you folks to cooperate.
It's gotten a little bit better. First of all, we have more tracers so we have more at bats, per my earlier analogy. But secondly, we need the batting average to go up. It's gone up, but it hasn't gone up enough. If we could get that up even a one out of three, or one out of two, even better yet, where there's not just a connection, you take the call, but there's a real exchange of information, that would be a huge step in the right direction. Because as you're about to see from our numbers, while we're generally still among the very best states in America, we are not out of the woods. So the contact tracing, the community contact tracing corps is not existing in isolation. It's not an abstract exercise. It is to get to the nub of any outbreak and to prevent some of the big numbers certainly we've seen in the past, but we're going to show you some fairly significant numbers today. Please, folks, take the call and cooperate.
With that, let's turn to the overnight numbers. Reporting an additional – Judy, second day in a row -- over 500. I know yesterday's was revised a little bit, 518 new positive cases, cumulative total of 195,888. The daily positivity for all tests recorded which is on Labor Day, which is on Monday, was 2.6%. Good news is that it peaked up a little higher than that yesterday, started to come down, which is good. I know Judy is going to give some greater insight into the age groups, especially, where we're seeing the greatest positivity. Rate of transmission statewide has come down yet another hair, that's two days in a row -- a hair -- still over one, but down a hair, 1.08. In our hospitals last night, 240 COVID-positive confirmed, another 242 persons under investigation awaiting test results, a total of 482; 81 in intensive care, 36 using ventilators.
Today we're also reporting an additional nine, sadly, with a heavy heart, loss of lives and these have been confirmed to be from COVID-19 related complications. That brings our statewide total of 14,234 unfathomable number of lost precious souls. Of the nine, Judy, I'm showing that four of them were from the past five days and the rest were from before that. The number of probable deaths has been adjusted, revised upward on Wednesday, 1,789. Again, at the risk of comparing apples and oranges, just to give you a spot sense, our hospitals reported that there were eight deaths over the previous 24 hours. Again, they are not yet lab confirmed, not yet in those numbers that you see.
As we do every day, let's take a couple of minutes to remember three members of our extraordinary family who we have lost. We start out today by remembering Milltown's Thomas Raslowsky. He was born in Jersey City and was a resident of both the Ford section of Woodbridge and North Brunswick before settling in Milltown 39 years ago. Tom had only recently retired, following a career in the home and commercial alarm security industry, and had just begun to enjoy his retirement in full: fishing, riding his motorcycle and ebike, playing with his granddaughter and, "just hanging out with his family" when he was taken by COVID-19. Tom was only 68 years old.
He leaves behind his beloved wife Elaine in the lower left there. I had the honor of speaking with her, I think on Tuesday. She's a retired teacher. Bless you, Elaine. She was also COVID positive, and so she seems fine now but keep her in your prayers. He's also survived by his son Joshua, daughter Jamie, son-in-law Nikko and granddaughter Alexia, as well as his brothers Scott, James and Michael, sister Marilyn and his mother-in-law Phyllis. May God bless and watch over him and his family.
Next we recall Jim Judd on the left of Wyckoff. A Midwest transplant to our New Jersey family, he was born and raised in Illinois and earned degrees in aeronautical engineering and law. He moved to New Jersey when he took a job as Executive Vice President at the New York Currency Exchange Corporation, commonly known as NYCE, and he went on also to work as a Senior Vice President at the fintech consultancy Met Avanti. In 2012, Jim became the co-owner of his business, adding his business experience to the award-winning Franklin Lakes-based boutique construction firm CantorBuild.
He was successful in business but his family was his true pride and joy. He leaves behind his wife, Ellen Benson, with whom I had the great honor of speaking, that's her in front of Jim, to whom he was married for 30 years. He also leaves behind his two guys pictured there, his son Sam and Ben, as well as his mother, Meryl, sister Carrie, and 10 nephews and one niece. Jim was only 62 years old. May his memory be a blessing to all who remember him. God bless you, pal.
And finally, today, we celebrate the life of William Rada. Bill lived in Bethlehem Township in Hunterdon County. He was born in New York City and attended high school at the celebrated Bronx High School of Science where he gained a lifetime love of learning. That's him on the far right there. His intellectual curiosity would lead him to studying and translating original texts of Plato, among other philosophers, at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, the so-called Great Books College, a really unique and extraordinary institution. And after that, he earned his law degree from Brooklyn Law School.
For the next 40 years, he was a practicing attorney in both New York and in New Jersey. At home, Bill was a great music lover with an eclectic and extensive vinyl collection. Those records -- Pat and I might be the only two people -- actually Judy, few of us may know vinyl here, so this is before your time – an extensive vinyl collection -- I'm kidding you. Those records being the stand-in for the times he couldn't head to Lincoln Center. But he was always at his happiest surrounded by family and friends.
He is survived by his wife Honora Quinn and I had the honor the great honor of speaking with Honora and their children Aisling, Honora, Fiona and Cormac. So not only is Honora's name an Irish name, but the names of each of their children are Irish, and Honora walked me through the meaning of each. His family, I think she would say and I know he would have said, was his greatest accomplishment. In every sense, Bill was a scholar and a gentleman, and God bless him and watch over him and his family.
And may God continue to bless and watch over the families of everyone we have lost, like Tom, Jim and Bill, and may he continue to give hope to the families like Chris Stanek's whose loved ones are working to pull through and defeat this virus.
Finally, let's end the day as we have been doing of late by recognizing another of the small business leaders the New Jersey Economic Development Authority has partnered with to prepare our economy for our continuing restart and recovering. I had the great honor of catching up with Pete Sandham, one of the partners in Sonic LLC, which operates four SportClips Haircuts locations in Somerset and Union Counties and employs roughly 30 people. Obviously, the onset of the pandemic and the shutdown of personal care services hit SportClips hard, putting the future of the franchises and the jobs it supports in doubt.
Working with the EDA, Pete -- that's Pete on the left by the way -- and his team were able to secure more than $20,000 in grants to help protect their locations by paying the rent and the utility bills. And as SportClips clients continue returning, the grants are also helping to keep their employees secure in their jobs. So to Pete and the SportClips teams -- and by the way, you find them on SportClips.com/NJ101. That's how you get to his particular franchise. We're honored to be your partner. Pete, we wish you nothing but the best for the future ahead.
As we close, let's recall again the importance of this day. This is a day of remembrance. This is a day when we celebrate the values that have carried our nation forward for nearly 250 years. Our New Jersey values remain as strong as ever. They are a reminder that we are all in this together, pulling together, working side by side. 9/11 reminded us of the value of our New Jersey family like never before. We are being reminded of that again these days, like never before. Let's all take care of each other. It's not just about one of us, it's about all 9 million of us.
And in that spirit, and Pat, I give you a shout out here, we're also keeping our fellow Americans in California in our thoughts as they fight against devastating wildfires. State fire, police and emergency management officials have been in contact constantly with our partners in California and Pat, you can give us more color on this, but I'm proud that we will be deploying through the New Jersey Forest Fire Service three fire engines and one additional support vehicle, along with 10 firefighters to California. I believe, Pat, they leave tomorrow, if I'm not mistaken. They need every hand on deck out there and New Jersey as usual, as always, will answer the call. So to Governor Gavin Newsom, with whom I exchanged notes yesterday -- who's been there for us, by the way, when we needed it most -- I want to say to the Governor and everyone in California, New Jersey does not forget how California was there to help us during our most dire times this spring, and now we are here for you as a, Sue, kind of a "Lafayette We Are Here" moment, said by General Black Jack Pershing, if my memory serves me correct. So God bless our brothers and sisters on the West Coast. God bless everyone and the souls we lost on 9/11, and the families and friends and colleagues who mourn their loss to this day.
And with that, please help me welcome the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicles Commission, Sue Fulton.
MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton: Thank you, Governor and thank you, Judy, for letting me go ahead. I appreciate the opportunity to give an update on Motor Vehicle Services. First, the most important metric for us during this public health emergency is the health and safety of our customers and our employees. I'm grateful to report that even though we have more than 1,200 employees in our agency locations working in sometimes small buildings, we've had only four COVID positives in two months since reopening; two of those were in the same agency, people who knew each other. This is a tribute to the great work that our facilities' team did in refitting our agencies and the measures we put in place. We are being very strict about social distancing and proper hygiene measures inside those buildings.
Overall, since Tropical Storm Isaias' power outages shut us down for several days, our weekly numbers have been strong. In 2019, for reference, we processed an average 240,000 transactions per week. In the last six weeks, we've done 250,000; 257,000; 285,000; and 272,000 respectively. We are on the right track. Average waits for road tests, driver knowledge tests, commercial driver license testing – that's CDLS -- and inspections are all down to pre-COVID-19 levels. Thanks to great collaboration with our state's community colleges and other partners, we were able to complete tens of thousands of road tests at our supplemental locations from June 29th through August. In fact, first available dates for new driver road tests, CDL tests and knowledge tests are either one day or two days.
Inspections wait times are within what we would consider normal ranges. I would caution we have not seen the numbers of vehicles coming in that we expected, so we're anticipating that waits for inspection stations could increase dramatically in the month of September as these extensions expire. But right now, we're monitoring the number closely. There are still many inspection stations where your weight is in the 15 minute range, maybe 30.
We've been working hard since even before the public health emergency to shift transactions online. Since March, we've taken a number of steps to make it easier to do your business online. All told, we added 20 vehicle transactions to our list of online services and expanded payment options. Just so you understand the impact of that, last year we did fewer than 40% of our registration renewals and 20% of our license renewals online. Since reopening, almost 70% of registration renewals and 55% of licenses were done at nj.mvc.gov instead of in person.
And yesterday, the Governor signed a bill that will add even more transactions online. This new law extends the validity of your photo for an additional four years. With this measure, you will only need to come and visit us in person once every 12 years instead of once every eight years. And what's more, if you're 65 years or over -- which doesn't apply to anyone on this panel, but there are folks out there – your photo is valid indefinitely so you can do that transaction online. All this means is that for virtually everyone with a basic New Jersey driver's license, you can renew that license online, even if your notice says that you are supposed to come in person. If you've tried to renew your license or ID online and got that message that you need to come in person, that's no longer required. Go to nj.mvc.gov and you can renew online without a visit to the licensing center. This is going to take roughly 220,000 people out of our licensing centers between now and the end of the year, because they can do that transaction online.
So what remains? Who still has to visit us in person? New licenses have to be done in-person. Out-of-state transfers, commercial driver licenses that are federally regulated, and private sales of used cars. When you go to your vehicle centers, the private sales of used cars are driving the vast majority of people online. There's been national press reporting that sales of used cars have skyrocketed during COVID-19.
These transactions require us to examine the documents and confirm people's identity to prevent fraud. We can't compromise the safety of your personal information. That said, we're very conscious these lines are still too long. They're too long for people. But I do want to say this. Don't believe everything you read on Facebook.
Myth number one: no one needs to camp out overnight. When our centers open at 8:00 a.m., tickets are distributed to those waiting in line based on the capacity for the day. We'll take your phone number, you'll get a ticket and you'll be contacted when we're ready to serve you that day. We looked at averages over the last several weeks -- I get a report every day -- but we looked at, what time did you need to get to each agency in order to get served? Now out of our 39 agencies, there's three agencies that if you arrived at 8:00 a.m. when we opened, you would have gotten turned away. At Newark, at Wayne, and South Plainfield. You have to be at Newark at 6:00, you have to be at Wayne at 6:54, at South Plainfield at 7:12. Those are averages, that's not precisely the time, but that's roughly when we gave out the last ticket. At the other 36 agencies, if you arrive by 8:00 a.m., you will get a ticket, you'll be served that day. In fact, the time at which the last person got a ticket to be served that day varies for every agency right up to 3:30 in the afternoon. In fact, on average -- on average -- the last ticket is given out roughly between 11:30 and 12:00.
We still want to be able to serve people better, but we urge everyone, you know, check online. We show every day when that agency reaches capacity. And so if you watch it for a couple of days, you will see where the agency nearest you still has capacity late in the morning, and we encourage you to come after we open so you don't have to stand in line. I do have to note those are weekdays Saturday has always been the busiest day at Motor Vehicle. There were long lines and hitting capacity early, long before COVID-19. We strongly encourage customers to avoid Saturdays if possible.
Myth number two, no one needs to stand in line all day. When the center opens at 8:00, we give you a ticket, we take your number. You'll be contacted we're ready to serve you. I know there are people standing outside agencies; sometimes it's people who have already been called back and it's a tiny space. They can't get in because of social distancing. Sometimes people choose to stay. We do run into, when I've walked those lines, when I've been at agencies, I've talked to people who said, "No, I would just rather wait here and they're holding their phone." And I said, "Is your car here? You don't want to sit in your car and listen to the radio?" And sometimes they do want to do that.
But that leads to myth number three, as the Governor said. Lines outside are not necessarily a sign of dysfunction inside. We just can't cram 100 or 200 or 300 people into the agencies like we used to. A normal number of people waiting at MVC in COVID times now looks like dozens of people in line outside, due to the social distancing requirements. And just because no one is standing outside in the afternoon doesn't mean we aren't serving customers all day. Ticketed individuals continue to be called back throughout the day for service, and dealers and driving schools tend to pick up and drop off bulk work, such as permits in new registrations, late in the day for processing.
My last comments are two: One, use nj.mvc.gov. In my visits to agencies, I continue to speak to people who are showing up for transactions that they can do online, particularly now with this new bill where your renewals can virtually all be done online, with a few exceptions. You can even get your forms online before you come in and every hour we are updating what agencies have reached capacity. We encourage people to use it,
Two, we know that no one wakes up in the morning excited, today's the day I get to go to the DMV. We know that everyone loves State Motor Vehicles and we know during this pandemic, it's been very difficult. The lines have been awful. I've been out there, I've heard the complaints. I've heard the suggestions. We try to help people. There are special situations where we're able to deal with someone who has a disability. For seniors, for people who are immunocompromised, we deal with those situations one on one.
But our folks have been working tirelessly to implement new systems, process transactions faster than before and to keep everyone safe. We're grateful for the positive comments we've gotten. My comms team actually sent this to me right before we came on, because it was a tweet from just this morning.
"I lined up at the MVC at 6:30, the line was about 200 deep at 8:00 a.m. Got my ticket at 8:30. I was called to come back at 10:30 and walked out with my gorgeous New Jersey plates at 11:00".
We know that a lot of these places are really overcrowded. There are several of our northern agencies that are just swamped and it's very difficult. Our folks are doing the best they can but please understand, we will never stop trying harder to serve you, to get better, to have better systems and continue to innovate while protecting you from fraud, identity theft and COVID-19. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Sue, I think I can speak on behalf of all members of the Murphy family. The only time any of us ever woke up really excited about going in was to get our license for the first –
MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton: First license.
Governor Phil Murphy: Right? And that's a fair point. And I think you've been very good about this, and hats off to you and your colleagues who are chopping through a once-in-a-century tsunami and backlog. I know when folks say they're frustrated you don't back down from that, you share their frustration and you know that getting folks the answers that they need, particularly the how -- and under your leadership, we've tried to broaden the options here; broaden the flexibility at every step, including the two laws that that I signed last night. We know it'll get better; it may get a little bit harder before it gets better. Your point about used car sales is a point that I think is worth underscoring. They're at an overwhelming level relative to any other all-time high nationally, and so that's going to be another reality of your tsunami that you're still facing. But to you and your colleagues, thank you for everything.
And to everybody out there, thank you for your patience. And I know at times, it's been hard. It may still be hard in a given location and we are with you on that, and we are committed, led by Sue who's outstanding, to get this into as good a place as it can be.
And I want to say one other thing. This is a classic example. We don't want to just get this into as good a place as it was six months ago before COVID. Sue's been trying to take this entire organization to a place it's never been before that holds up on a national comparison of best practices, not just back to where we were. So for all of the above, thank you. My guess is you may get a question or two before we break.
You barely need an introduction, but the woman to my right needs no introduction. Please help me welcome the Commissioner of the Department of Health, Judy Persichilli.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Thank you, Governor and good afternoon. The department regularly reviews data around various populations in our state, and we continue to be concerned about transmission of the virus among young individuals. We are seeing case numbers climb among the ages of 19 to 24. This population now has the highest percent positivity in the state. That percent is 6%. So between the ages of 19 to 24, their percent positivity is 6%. Right behind them is the 14-to-18-year-old age group, with the percent positivity of 4%. Percent positivity among all other age groups is declining or remaining flat.
The most recent increase among young people began in mid-August and the department is hearing anecdotal reports of social gatherings such as the end-of-summer parties and back-to-school parties and they're occurring and they're helping to drive transmission. We are also aware of reports of increasing cases among college students in some areas of the state, those that have returned to off-campus housing, rather than on-campus studies.
We know we are all social beings. We know young people want to socialize, but it must be done safely. Stay at least six feet from one another, wear a face covering, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid sharing food and drink with others. And certainly if you feel sick, please stay at home.
These steps need to be taken seriously. Although they do not often experience severe illness, young people could spread the virus to other more vulnerable populations, especially those who live in the same household, such as elderly grandparents or parents with underlying medical conditions. It's important to remember, the more closely you interact with others, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.
As I mentioned, the 14-to-18-year-old group is another population we are concerned about, given their high percent positivity, whether in school or spending time with friends, it's critical that they follow the same precautions. At this time, the department is not aware of any COVID-19 cases associate associated with in-school transmission. The department is aware of students and staff that have tested positive but as is known, these illnesses are not related to school attendance. Local health departments in the state are working with schools that identify positive cases and providing guidance on next steps that the schools should take.
Local school districts should be informing school staff and parents about possible exposures that occur in school. The Department of Education's social reopening guidance instructs schools that if they become aware that an individual who has spent time at the school tests positive, district officials must immediately notify the local health officials, staff and families of a confirmed case. They must maintain the confidentiality of the individual, however, who tests positive. The Department of Health's guidance has sample letters that schools can use to contact parents when someone at the school has tested positive, or their child is in contact with a person who tested positive.
Moving on to my daily report, as the Governor shared, our hospitals reported 482 hospitalizations of COVID-19 positive patients and persons under investigation last evening. There are 81 individuals in critical care, 44% of those critical care patients are on ventilators. The 482 takes into account a number of duplicates that were discovered by our Communicable Disease Service. There are no new reports of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, the cases remain at 57. The children affected have either tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibody tests that were positive to COVID-19. The ages of the children range from 1 to 18.
The Governor reviewed the new cases and the deaths reported. In terms of deaths, the breakdown by race and ethnicity is as follows: White 54%, Black 18.3%, Hispanic 20.3%, Asian 5.5% and other 1.8%. The veterans homes numbers remain the same as yesterday, and at our state psychiatric hospitals, the numbers remain the same.
The percent positivity as reported by the Governor on September 7th for New Jersey overall was 2.6%. The Northern part of the state reported 2.46, the Central part of the state 2.91, and the southern part of the state 2.44. That concludes my daily update. Stay safe, and remember for each other and for us all, please take the call. Thank you.
Governor Phil Murphy: Amen to that last point. Judy, the positivity rate among young people is really striking. Really striking.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Really striking.
Governor Phil Murphy: I know for all others, it must be a de minimis number given that you've got 6 and 4 for those respective age groups, and thank you for always reminding us of the racial disparities of this illness. I was just sent something which is consistent, I think, with where we have thought and I'd love to get your reaction and Ed's reaction. This is Dr. Tony Fauci, I think this has just come hot off the press, so here we go.
He gives an interview and says he remains -- I'm not quoting him but he remains confident that there will be a vaccine available by the end of the year, this year or early 2021. Because we've been asked a lot when we heard there may be some vaccines for late October, early November, I said at least assuming they're safe, efficacious, scalable, we can figure out the equity of their distribution. I'll be the happiest guy in New Jersey, you'll be right beside me, but that seems earlier than we had been led to believe by the manufacturers. And then I quote, Dr. Fauci:
"But by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccine and get a majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not going to happen until the end of 2021. If you're talking about getting back to a degree of normality prior to COVID, it's going to be well into 2021, toward the end of 2021." Which I don't think surprises us? I don't want to – I mean, we've though sort of… my -- again, I'm the least qualified answer, sort of at least middle of the year. But Ed, do you have any reaction on that? Does that sound --?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: No, and there's so many unknowns, it's very hard to make predictions again about exactly what's going to happen. But yes, people think that just because the vaccine comes out, okay, the troubles are over. No, you have to produce enough of that vaccine. You have to be able to distribute it, people have to be able to get it. It's likely to be two doses of that vaccine. That vaccine is not likely to be 100% effective. All of those things are going on at the same time, so it is going to be a process. It's not going to be like oh, okay, December 1st or whatever date there's a vaccine available, and we're done.
Governor Phil Murphy: You had this apparently a specific setback in the AstraZeneca trial. Listen, I want to make sure I'm unequivocal about this. I know everyone joins me up here, unequivocal, that we are all rooting for a fast, safe, efficacious, scalable, equitable distribution. We want that. But I also think we owe it to folks to be fair-minded and as objective as we can be about stuff like this. And I don't think, you know, I personally, I hope I'm wrong. I don't see Thanksgiving and Christmas of this year everybody vaccinated and we've got COVID behind us. I'll be the happiest guy in the world if we do, but I still think this is a road we still have to travel. Thank you for that, both the report and the reaction.
Pat, I was with a passel of Secret Service members today. We had both Vice President Pence and Vice President Biden in a very small space, much smaller than this room, and heard extraordinary laudatory things from the Secret Service about New Jersey State Police. I said to one guy in particular, that starts with the boss. So please help me welcome Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan.
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thanks so much, Governor, for that. Good afternoon. You know, the ROIC over the past two days has not reported any EO compliance issues, which is always good news. And just to add a little bit of color to your EMAC comments, Governor, with regard to our forest fire crew going out to California, our New Jersey Emergency Management folks are viewed nationally as one of the most responsive when it comes to EMAC, and I think back to Louisiana and Katrina, Houston with Harvey, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands for both hurricanes and earthquakes, recently going down to the southern states, and it's just a tremendous source of pride for us.
This crew, when you say it's only 10 firefighters and four vehicles, they're joining 14,000 firefighters that are on the line right now. They've lost over 3,900 structures out there and I know whether it was California in the wake of Superstorm Sandy sending staff or sending us ventilators back in the spring, it's just this community of ever-evolving mutual aid. It's a total back and forth all the time and I'm humbled and honored to be a part of it. We're certainly proud to send any assistance we can to anywhere in in the nation and world, quite frankly. So thank you, Governor.
Governor Phil Murphy: Amen, Pat. Sue, you're familiar with this tradition as a graduate of the US Military Academy, first class to include women. Pat, if they ask for more, do we have more without putting our own --?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: There's also requests in from Oregon and Wyoming, so, making sure that we have enough resources to support them, we are drilling down into that. OEM is looking into that right now and we want to carry on that tradition of making sure that we support those that are in need.
Governor Phil Murphy: Am I right about this, by the way? These vehicles are not being flown out there. Our men and women are driving them out from tomorrow, right?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: That is correct, yes, sir. Should take about three or four days.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, the road trip, as Sue said. God bless them, and may they come back safely.
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Thanks, Gov.
Governor Phil Murphy: Pat, if you wouldn't mind, over the course of the next week or two, depending on how long they're out there, give us an update, if you wouldn't mind?
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan: Yes, sir.
Governor Phil Murphy: Thank you for that. Ashwin, we're going to start over here. Before we do, we're going to be virtual this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Dan, and Monday for the moment we're on at one o'clock in this very room. That could shift with the White House.
As I mentioned, we had Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence with us in New York City this morning, as well as Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden, and it was with Governor Pataki, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bloomberg, Mayor de Blasio, I was honored to be there with Tammy. It was an honor to be there and to have such a spirit of bipartisanship, which is a nice thing, as well as the tradition of this particular, as it should be, this annual memorial is politicians do not participate, they stand and observe. This is a this is brought to you by the National Museum, family members, and even when the names are being read on audio and not with the family members themselves because of social distancing and COVID, not being able to stand shoulder to shoulder, it's still incredibly moving. With that, we'll be with you Monday at 1:00 unless you hear otherwise.
Reporter: Thank you. Is the Department of Education getting involved in Paterson, where 25 incidents of threats and obscene material disrupted classes?
Governor Phil Murphy: Sorry, Paterson with what?
Reporter: Where 25 incidents of threats and obscene material disrupted classes? And do you have any comment on whether school districts around the state are prepared to combat any copycats?
Regarding contact tracers, are the contact tracers collecting information about why the people they call aren't talking to them, to create a strategy to get them to cooperate? And if so, what are they hearing from these folks about why they don't want to talk to them?
This week, Senator Reid says it's shameful that your administration gave the DOE $150 million in CARES funding. She thinks that's too low. Do you have any comment on that characterization?
And do you know the number of positive tests in schools? And if so, are you going to make it public?
Governor Phil Murphy: I'm not aware of the Paterson situation, unless someone else is. Matt Platkin is with us so with your blessing, we would like to come back to you on that. And the question about copycats, could you come back Ashwin? I just don't understand what that was related to.
Reporter: Do you have any comment if -- because this was supposedly, apparently the act of students. Do you think the school districts are equipped to handle if students in other districts hear about this and then start doing it on their own?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, without knowing the specifics of Paterson, so I'm answering without knowing the premise, we are as equipped as any state in America in terms of dealing with that. But that's not to say that we're 100% failsafe, but if we could come back to you on the Patterson piece.
Judy the answer has got to be yes, the contact tracers are compiling it, but the overwhelming reason is, at least as I understand it, has people don't want to -- either parents don't want to rat out their kids or one person doesn't want to rate out a friend, and big part of our strategy has been the bully pulpit. Both what we do in our press conference, what we put online, but I take any other any other color you've got.
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: There's several that don't want to rat out their friends because they're concerned for their friends' welfare -- well, they have to leave work, well they have to quarantine for two weeks. You know, who will feed their kids? How will they be taken care of? So we are adding more individuals at the county level to offer social support. We offer them a phone number to call, so that they can perhaps get the support that they need, or know that the support is out there so they will give us the names of the people they've been in contact with. So it's both they just don't want to give the names and secondly, there's some other reasons because of the quarantine recommendations.
Governor Phil Murphy: That second reason we don't talk about enough, and that's a fair point, that they feel like they're gonna be out in a lineup and finding a way to provide social services and strengthen the net is a big part of this, right? Is that fair to say?
I didn't see Senator Ruiz's comments, although she has been an outstanding partner and a great leader in education. $150 million of CARES Act money to get schools back open, is that the question and that the issue was that it wasn't enough?
Reporter: Correct. She said that was a shameful amount.
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, I would, again, I'm a huge fan of hers. I would say I don't see it that way. In fact, I would look at per capita CARES money to schools per kid to reopen explicitly for that and compare us to other American states. Matt, do you want anything to that?
Chief Counsel Matt Platkin: Just that that amount was based on multiple surveys conducted statewide by the Department of Education, which was announced at the event, or multiple events that we did on the digital divide funding through CARES, I believe the Senator was at one of them. So, you know, we are happy to consistently work with the Legislature on the amount. Obviously the CARES Act is a limited pot of money that has to be used towards a number of things, but the number specifically for the digital divide was based on statewide surveys of our school districts as to the need of the unfunded need for laptops and mobile devices.
Governor Phil Murphy: I'd make two comments: one is amen to that, this was not out of thin air. This was a give and take that we had with districts. Secondly, it does give me an opportunity to say we don't have enough federal money, period. And it is incredible that the Republican Senate cannot find a way through this. It's almost feels to me like it's volitional, and I don't want to be political today, of all days, so that's all I'll say. We have got to get more federal money and it's not just New Jersey, it is every American state, red and blue.
We had a discussion this morning. First of all, at this point, Judy made a statement which I want to reiterate. As of this moment, based on what we know, and you've got hundreds of school districts, we're not aware of any in-school transmission of COVID. Sure as we're sitting here, over time, that's going to change at some point, right? As we get back inside, cold weather, etc.
Two comments beyond that, and Judy, you should come in if you see this differently. The system is working as far as we can tell, so what you're seeing is when you've got folks who have some transmission that's not related to school, they come in contact with some population in school and steps are being taken. That to me is a good sign and I think we should celebrate that, that school districts, local health authorities are doing the right thing. As I said, I had the honor of touring, yesterday I was incredibly impressed. I was in a Catholic school last week, likewise.
And then secondly, we did talk about finding some way to put online or put in one place so that we're not, you know, District X has two, District Y has 3; last Tuesday there were four. We're trying to put our collective thoughts together to figure out a way to have a consistent sense of reporting. But again, right now, no in-school transmissions that we're aware of it.
Secondly, from our standpoint, and we're monitoring this, this is iterative, so please know that, the system is working and that's a good thing. Would you – are you good with that? Ed, you're all right? Thank you. We'll get back to you on the Paterson piece. Sir. Do you have any? Okay, I know you've got something, as I can tell.
Reporter: The Borough of Franklin wants to give people the option to vote outside and socially distance and we wanted to know what your thoughts were on this. Is it not like waiting in line at the grocery store and paying at the same credit card machine?
And then second question, do you have any reaction or response to the New York Stock Exchange's reported proposal to move out of New Jersey if a tax is approved on financial transactions, a tax you said that you would support?
Governor Phil Murphy: Yeah, on the latter, again, I want to be mindful of the sacred nature of today. I'm not sure I would have put that out at nine o'clock in the morning on 9/11, given the devastation that the financial sector suffered on 9/11 19 years ago. I think I might have thought about that. This is what get, I guess, for reaching out and trying to find common ground. That's the initial reaction I have.
I've said this before. I like conceptually the concept. I do believe personally there is enormous value to them for proximity. We've begun a dialogue with the operators and would hope we could have a peaceful and constructive dialogue. We feel pretty strongly about this. We just can't score it in the budget because it's going too much uncertainty associated with it but I conceptually like the idea.
And again, not a forever thing. This is a moment unlike any. We were comparing this to the 1930s and the 1860s, so the notion that we could all come together and say, okay, we don't love this idea, but we're prepared to give a little bit of blood to help us all get through this together in one piece for the next couple of years, I think that's reasonable.
I haven't seen the Franklin proposal so no reaction to it other than to repeat, there's no prohibition in our model against showing up on Election Day and voting, period. It happens to be a paper ballot. It's the only difference. I personally am going to vote by mail. So you've got vote by mail and literally put it in the mail. Fill out your ballot, drop it in a secure lockbox, fill out your ballot and hand it to a poll worker, or do none of that, show up and vote by paper? I'm on category one, personally. We're going to make sure that the Postal Service does its job. We'll come back to you if we've got any reaction when we look at the Franklin example, if that's okay, thank you. Brent, good afternoon.
Brent Johnson, Star-Ledger: Lieutenant Governor Oliver today said during a 9/11 ceremony that we will never defund the police. I know you've discussed this a little bit before but do you agree with that, New Jersey will never defund the police?
Have you seen no evidence at all of false positives? There's a lot of chatter about there being a number of false positive driving our cases. Are any of these positive cases revealed later to be false?
And for the Commissioner, do drivers covered by the new law need a PIN to renew licenses online? Where do people find the form to make an appointment and how do they file it? And will you extend licenses and other documents to the end of 2020?
Governor Phil Murphy: I want to go to the second one first. I think we did -- we've not had much noise with false positives but I think you mentioned, Judy, there was some in yesterday's batch that we've taken out?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: Duplicates.
Governor Phil Murphy: Duplicates. They were not false positives, I apologize. Ed, you're up.
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: When people talk about false positives –
Governor Phil Murphy: And could you also cover the motor vehicles questions –
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: I can, and maybe also timing. False positives, we do hear chatter about that. We hear people concerned about that, and it's reasonable for them to be concerned because when somebody is told that they're positive, it has lots of effects on them and the people around them. If they're in a nursing home or someplace like that, it has a lot of effect on the people around them, because we're very cautious with sick people who might be infectious, we think reasonably so. We err on the side of safety.
When people say false positives, there are really two different things you can be talking about. One is the test that is positive, because there's actually a virus there, but it's not medically significant. For example, somebody might have had the disease two months ago, and I test them today and the test might be sensitive enough that I can still pick up some virus on that test so it will come back as positive, even though that person is no longer sick and no longer infectious. That's not truly a false positive, that's truly a positive and somebody who shouldn't have been tested and we have to deal with that.
The second is that no test is 100% perfect. Every test has potential errors associated with it. Everything from the person who collects the specimen to the way it's processed in the lab to problems with the machine and all that sort of stuff can occasionally and on the tests that are used for COVID very rarely have the wrong result. They can be a false positive. We think those are very small numbers, but when you're testing 27,000 or 30,000 people a day, even very small numbers are going to pop up on occasion. And when we see those, if they can be shown to be false, then certainly we accept that they are false.
The problem is that, as I said, we're gonna err on the side of safety. Meaning that if we're not sure if that test is truly saying that that person is infectious, if we're not sure if we can't be close to 100% sure, we're going to say, well, the safer thing to do is to assume that that test was correct and we will treat it that way.
Governor Phil Murphy: I'll do the first question, Brent, and then Sue, if you could answer the Motor Vehicles. I did not see the specific comments by the Lieutenant Governor. I would just say first of all, I don't know where I'd be without her. She's extraordinary and does an extraordinary job, both as Lieutenant Governor and overseeing the Department of Community Affairs. Listen, our administration, I think I've said this before, first of all, I completely understand the passion around this, particularly in the post-George Floyd killing era and the deepening of police law enforcement community engagement has been a hallmark of Pat Callahan's, of Gurbir Grewal's, of so many of the leaders in law enforcement around our state. And I'm going to say as a badge of honor, while nothing is perfect, and we all know that, not only have we come a long way and a huge credit to Pat and Gurbir and other leaders, but I'd hold us up against any other place in the nation.
The way I've thought about it in the past is not just in isolation, because nothing's in isolation. It's less about what you're doing with law enforcement than it is what are you doing with the surrounding community investments? You know, forget about what you say, where you put your money, is that where your mouth is? So as I've said in the past, it's to me it's a measure -- and I hope we're proving that. We kept all-time high pre-K through 12th grade public education funding in our budget, we kept it at an all-time high. We have put in place, which I'm thrilled about, this health insurance premium that replaces the federal premium, the overwhelming bulk of which goes into folks, to allow folks right now who can't afford healthcare to buy healthcare. The baby bonds notion overwhelmingly impacts, these all impact overwhelmingly underserved communities, communities of color.
What we've done in keeping whole the Affordable Trust Fund in a state that is desperate for more affordable housing. For me, it's been a heck of a lot less about what's per se in the numerator in one of those categories than it is about what are you doing about building the entirety of the community? What's your holistic overall investment look like? And again, I'm proud not just of the words we say, but the investments that we make. Thank you. Sue.
MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton: Yes. So number one, you do not need a PIN online to renew your license online. Number two, you're talking about the bill that requires us to set aside special hours for seniors and for senior appointments. There's great latitude in the bill for how we set that up. We are looking, we'll be rolling out a plan in the coming days, but right now we're looking at setting special times whether it's -- this isn't the final – but like Friday afternoon or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 4:00, but setting special times. And then certainly as we have been doing, where the situation is someone is immunocompromised, then we would do courtesy appointments and find other ways to do that. But people do not need to go anywhere to set an appointment. We will roll out the plan and there will be time that you can come in and we will ensure that you get taken care of.
And your third question was whether we were going to extend expiration dates to the end of 2020. Well, by definition, if you have an expiration date, you have a document that needs to be renewed. And with the new bill, all the renewals can be done online. So we actually don't anticipate extending them anymore because you can just get it done online. The reason for the extensions was the crowds in the agencies, but if you don't have to go into an agency, we believe that everybody should be able to get that done.
Governor Phil Murphy: Well said. We did this, I'm calling an audible. I had an incredible honor -- this is by the way less money than it is a statement, although it does cost money. I had the honor with SZA, Maplewood's own SZA last night, to sign the law that makes Juneteenth a state holiday. It'll be the third Friday of June every year, regardless of when the actual 19th of June occurs. I wanted to get that off my chest, because it was way cool. So, it was way cool. Thank you, Sir.
Reporter: Hi, Governor. Two questions. First one is from a colleague. When it comes to COVID cases in schools, aside from the guidance, it does seem like it's up to the discretion of each district on what to do. Why not implement a statewide policy on how to handle an outbreak?
And on the topic of the MVC, Governor, today we saw long lines again at the MVC in Wayne, people trying to access services only available in person. I spoke to a woman named Rosa. She is 70 years old and she has been turned away five times. She said waiting in line in the heat is like being herded like cattle. What do you say to people like Rosa who can't get any help?
Governor Phil Murphy: I wish the Chief Administrator of the MVC were with us to answer that but first of all, I would just say I have nothing but sympathy for Rosa and I would love it if we could get her and ask Sue, and I know she would have done this anyway, to literally call her up when we walk out of here and figure out what the issue is.
MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton: If she was at Wayne for license, then she's trying to renew a license that she no longer needs to go in person to get. So she can renew that online. And we've actually been telling people that. But yes, absolutely, I want to reach out to her. If she needs any assistance to, you know, on the website, we can do that. But that's exactly what the Governor signed, it's going to be tremendously helpful because seniors don't need to wait in line to renew a license.
Governor Phil Murphy: I think one of the things we need to do, and part of the reason Sue is here today and I know you're thinking about this already, and Dan Bryan and others who live in that world, we need to make sure that we've got as loud a megaphone as possible right now. Not just in a press conference like this, and we've used that to great effect, I think, in COVID as a general matter, but also literally up and down the lines themselves.
Why we wouldn't have a statewide guidance, and I'm going to ask Judy to come in on this, is because in fact, I applaud Judy and her team for this is that they have broken the state down into regions. It's not only what's going on inside your classroom or inside your school, but more broadly inside your community and inside your region. There are six regions, so the Northeast, Northwest, Central East Central West, Southeast, Southwest. Those well could be very different dynamics. We haven't done that. We never did it with dining, for instance, because you can get into a car and drive from one place to another in the state to eat. That's a volitional exercise. Where you go to school is typically prescribed, overwhelmingly prescribed.
We've got a chart, Judy went through this, I think on Tuesday. If this happens, this is what you should do depending on the environment in which that school is located. Judy, anything you want to add to that? Or Ed?
Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli: I think I'd like Ed to just go over again how they look at the regions, because it's very instructive and it is on our dashboard. We really encourage people to look at it. So, Ed, could you do that for us?
DOH Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Ed Lifshitz: Sure. So when we put guidance together, we tried to be general enough so that people understand what they should be doing and that schools are acting more or less the same all throughout, but not so prescriptive that a small elementary school in Cape May is treated the exact same way as a 4,000-student High School in Bergen because they may have very different environments.
As the Commissioner and the Governor has mentioned, we start by every week, breaking down the state into six separate districts, and we produce and publish every week something that looks a whole lot like this that tells the district whether they're green, yellow, or orange, or red, depending on essentially how high the risk is in their community. Then based upon that risk, we say, okay, you know, this is what you should do. You know, if you have a child who has symptoms that could be COVID but probably aren't and you're in a very low risk district, then you don't need to treat it quite as harshly as if you're in a much higher transmission community where the risk of that person actually having COVID is so much higher. So that's where we start.
And the next thing we do is we do go ahead and we do publish separately what to do, okay, I have one case in my school, what do I do? I've got two cases in my school. They're in the same classroom. What do I do? I've got two cases in my school, they're in different classrooms, but you know what? They're brothers and sisters, so they probably caught it at home and nobody, as far as you know, at school caught it, what do we do? Or now I have two cases in school that I can't figure out where they got it from, so maybe they got it from each other and it may be spreading through the school. So we do go ahead and that list is published as well. But we always want to leave it up to some discretion, because there's always going to be a question of something that we haven't thought of, or some connection or something else that you can't rigidly define every situation down. That's why we always talk about the school districts talking to local health departments, who can talk to us to go through the nuance of any particular school, but we do give that general guidance.
Governor Phil Murphy: And I would say, Ed, I mean, I don't want to put words in your mouth, we reserve the right, as we did in March, to take statewide action if it is warranted. The fervent, not just hope, but based on the data, the fervent expectation is that that's not what we're dealing with here. And again, I repeat what I said a few minutes ago, Judy, and I think what you're seeing right now -- again, it's early, so this is not in cement -- but what you see right now tells us that the system is working, that they're taking the actions that they're prescribed to do.
Okay with that we're going to mask up if and that's all right. Judy and Ed, as always, thank you. Pat, likewise. Sue, great to have you back and I know this is a work in enormous progress and you'll be back from time to time, and we'll follow up with Rosa and get her in a good place.
Again, we'll be virtual with you tomorrow and Sunday. Thanks for your patience today to do it a little bit later. Monday we'll be back at one o'clock unless you hear otherwise. Again, everybody, keep up the great work. You have been extraordinary, and may God bless and watch over the 704 New Jerseyans we lost on this day 19 years ago, and the over 14,000 folks we've lost due to COVID-19 over the past six months, they were each a precious life lived. They leave behind overwhelmingly family, friends, neighbors, communities who continue to mourn their loss. Please keep all of the above in your prayers. God bless, thank you.