Photo Credit: NBC4-TV screen grab via YouTube
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

New Jersey State Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he is extending the public health emergency and state of emergency, both declared over the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, by another 30 days.

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“I want to make it absolutely clear that this action does not mean that we are seeing anything in the data which would pause our path forward and it should not be interpreted by anyone to mean we are going to be tightening any of the restrictions currently in place,” Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

“This ensures we will continue on our current war footing for the coming month,” he continued. “The conditions underpinning this declaration have not changed — we are still in a public health emergency.”

Both states of emergency were declared on March 9 and are currently in force as the pandemic was beginning to spread in New Jersey.

“Remember, in the absence of a vaccine, or even proven therapeutics for COVID-19, our only cure is social distancing,” he said.

This is the second time that Murphy has signed an executive order issuing an extension; the first was extension was issued on April 7, inasmuch as public health emergency orders expire after 30 days.

This time the executive order maintains the public health emergency status through early June, although the state of emergency can remain in place indefinitely.

However, this weekend Murphy is allowing state and county parks and golf courses to reopen, albeit with restrictions. The governor is being pressured by some legislators as well as business owners and even residents to further loosen restrictions as Memorial Day approaches, but he has responded the new COVID-19 cases and death toll numbers must drop further before he is willing to move any faster.

“We’ve got to do it responsibly, we’ve got to do it safely, and we are committed to that,” he said, “whether you like that or not.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.