Murphy may declare a new public health emergency for NJ
With COVID cases continuing to spike in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy may be forced to declare a new public health emergency if he wants to extend his pandemic powers.
When he agreed to allow his original declaration to expire last June, lawmakers agreed to extend some of his orders until Jan. 11. Fourteen of his previous executive orders remain in effect, including the oversight of the vaccinations and testing as well as data collection from healthcare providers.
In December, Murphy said he was in talks with legislative leaders for a "general discussion about what we think we're gonna need to do in terms of public health," but did not reveal any specifics.
Murphy did say at the time, "We need resolutions from the Legislature to take certain steps," but no legislation or resolutions have been introduced and lawmakers appear ready to let the governor's existing powers expire.
Without legislative action, or a new public health emergency declaration from the governor, all remaining orders and mandates are set to expire on Tuesday.
That would presumably include things like the school mask mandate as well as mandates for healthcare workers to get vaccinated as a condition of employment.
Murphy has repeatedly said he has no intention of imposing new mandates, and has instead left those decisions up to local governments and private industries. Murphy has opted to focus on vaccinations and booster shots to try and control the current outbreak.
A decision on a new public health emergency declaration comes as the Garden State continues to set new records for positive COVID tests and outbreaks in New Jersey schools continue to rise.
Hospitalizations for COVID infection have also topped 5,700 for the first time since April 2020. That's still far off the 8,000 that were hospitalized at the peak of the first wave of the pandemic, but it is starting to put a strain on healthcare resources.
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