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Murphy could declare a new public health emergency for NJ

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As New Jersey COVID cases continue to rise, Governor Phil Murphy could be forced to declare a new public health emergency if he wishes to expand his pandemic powers.

When he agreed to let his original statement expire last June, lawmakers agreed to extend some of his orders until January 11th. Fourteen of his previous ordinances remain in place, including monitoring of vaccinations and tests, and data collection from health care providers.

In December, Murphy said he was in talks with legislature leaders for a “general discussion about what we think we need to do about public health,” but did not provide details.

Murphy said at the time, “We need a resolution from the legislature to take certain steps,” but no laws or resolutions have been put in place and the legislature appears poised to let the governor’s powers expire.

In the absence of legislative action or a new public health emergency declaration from the governor, all remaining orders and mandates will expire on Tuesday.

This probably includes things like the school mask mandate and mandatory vaccination for health care workers as a condition of employment.

Murphy has repeatedly said that he has no intention of giving new mandates, but instead leaves those decisions to local governments and the private sector. Murphy has chosen to focus on vaccinations and booster shots to help control the current outbreak.

A decision on a new public health declaration is made as the Garden State continues to set new records for positive COVID tests and outbreaks in New Jersey schools continue to increase.

Hospital admissions for a COVID infection also exceeded the 5,700 mark for the first time since April 2020. That’s still a long way from the 8,000 hospitalized at the height of the first wave of pandemics, but it’s starting to drain healthcare resources.

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