Murphy extends New Jersey public health emergency for another month

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy extended the coronavirus outbreak public health emergency declaration Wednesday for another month.

He first signed the declaration in March and renewed it in April. The declaration allows the Democrat to invoke emergency powers, such as ordering businesses to close.

Murphy said he decided to extend the declaration because it automatically expires after 30 days and the underlying conditions making it necessary haven't changed.

In Haddonfield, New Jersey, Sue Meslowski has a showroom full of gowns but no one to sell them to.

With each passing day that her shop Jay West is closed she loses a little faith.

"It's killing me!" she says. "I could really do this with one or two appointments and you keep your social distance."

She says she missed March sales. Prom was her biggest money maker and bills are piling up.

"You still have to pay your vendors, health insurance and car payments," said Meslowski.

For Andrea Marcelle, who owns Maison Marcelle, a French inspired vintage dress boutique, Wednesday's news came as a heartbreaker.

"Just when you think everything is going to be ok you hear it's another 30 days!" she says.

On Wednesday, Murphy also announced about 1,500 new cases in the state, putting the total at about 132,000 along with 308 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 8,549.

Despite the climbing death toll and increase in cases, Murphy said, the number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 continued to decline, as did the number of patients on ventilators.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.

A look at other developments:

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EXPERTS TO PROBE NURSING HOMES

New Jersey is hiring two experts in long-term care to help the state tackle the outbreak in nursing homes, Murphy also announced Wednesday.

Cindy Mann, a former deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services in the Obama administration, and Carol Raphael, former CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, will help support the Health Department, Murphy said.

They'll produce a review of staff and residents at state facilities and recommend what to do in the long term, as well as how to change the state's system.

New Jersey's nursing homes have been hit hard by the virus, with all the state's roughly 400 facilities having at least one positive case, according to Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.

There are about 23,000 positive cases at facilities across the state, with about 4,300 fatalities, or about half of the statewide total.

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BEACH ACCESS

Plans are being scrapped to limit crowds by allowing only locals at a popular, municipally owned Jersey Shore beach when it reopens.

Gov. Phil Murphy said last week that such a move at Point Pleasant Beach would be illegal. But a new policy devised by the community aims to accomplish the same thing by different means.

Instead of allowing only borough residents onto the Maryland Avenue beach once it reopens, the town plans to restrict parking near the beach, issuing permits to residents to allow them to park there.

The move incorporates Murphy's own advice; this week the governor touted what he called the success of limiting attendance at state parks over the weekend by restricting parking to 50% of normal capacity.

Murphy suggested that local governments might use parking restrictions to help hold crowds down when beaches reopen.

The new policy takes effect May 15.

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