Murphy and the first lady will be canceling all in-person events in the coming days and will each take another Covid test before resuming any in-person activity.
“From the beginning, the Governor’s Office has taken every precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19. Today’s exceedingly cautious steps are part of that ongoing commitment,” Gunaratna said in his statement.
Murphy’s quarantine comes as New Jersey hits an inflection point in its response to the pandemic. After months of manageable caseloads and limited spread, the Garden State is at risk of losing its grip on the virus.
In the weeks since Murphy directed restaurants, gyms and theaters to open their doors with capacity restrictions, the average number of cases reported daily has climbed from the low-300s to more than 1,000, including 1,062 on Wednesday. The number of patients currently hospitalized for confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 has been climbing sharply for weeks as well, reaching 884 on Wednesday.
Since the first case was reported in early March, New Jersey has recorded 223,223 positive cases and more than 16,200 confirmed or probable Covid-related deaths.
The recent surge has been largely driven by outbreaks within college universities and Orthodox communities, particularly in Ocean County and neighboring Monmouth County, where Murphy resides. Health officials and Murphy have pinned the spikes on house parties and family gatherings, as opposed to indoor dining or school re-openings.
Participation in the state’s contact tracing program has languished. Less than half of the state’s new Covid-19 patients are providing health officials with the information necessary to stamp out budding outbreaks.
Murphy’s decision to enter a holding pattern for the next several days, pending future test results, follows his administration’s intense criticism of President Donald Trump for holding a fundraiser at his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. even after close personal aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for the virus.
Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19 just hours after the Bedminster event.
Murphy alluded to his criticism of the president on Wednesday and said that’s why he must take immediate action to quarantine.
“I can’t ask President Trump not to come to Bedminster and do a fundraiser and have me sit here,“ he said.