- The Washington Times
Thursday, March 26, 2020

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday said he fears throwing “gasoline on the fire” if he reopens his state up too quickly amid the expanding coronavirus pandemic.

“The sequence of events here is to flatten the curve, break the back of the virus, make sure that the numbers are going down meaningfully and then I think we [can] responsibly open society and open the economy,” Mr. Murphy said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

President Trump said this week he’d like to see the U.S. opened up and “raring to go” by Easter, or April 12.

Mr. Murphy said he’d like to do things sooner than later, but preached caution.

“If those numbers are not at that point by Easter, by next Sunday, the Sunday after Easter — whenever it is, if the numbers aren’t telling us that we’ve broken the back of this and we’re meaningfully going in the right direction, we won’t be able to open up the state responsibly at that point,” Mr. Murphy said.

“If we go too early, I’m fearful we will throw gasoline on the fire, and we’ll have a much bigger challenge on our hands and the challenge right now is pretty darn big to begin with,” he said.

In line with what many governors around the country have done, Mr. Murphy last week signed an executive order directing residents to stay at home except in limited circumstances, such as obtaining essential goods or visiting family. The order also directs the closure of nonessential retail businesses.

There are more than 4,400 positive coronavirus cases in New Jersey — the second-most in the country behind New York — and at least 62 coronavirus-related deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

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