(The Center Square) – The number of New Jersey coronavirus cases increased Thursday by 318, to 742 total cases, which was not unexpected, Gov. Phil Murphy said.
“We expected these numbers as you combine the reality of at least some community spread with an aggressive expansion of testing,” Murphy said. “And I will tell you now, certainly sooner than later, that these numbers will go into the many thousands.”
Four more deaths were reported, bringing the total number of deaths in New Jersey to nine. Three of them were associated with a long-term care facility, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
The ages of those diagnosed range from 3 years old to 95, she said during the daily update. The median age of patients is 52.
The state is opening a new testing facility Friday at Bergen Community College. The facility will be able to conduct 2,500 tests a week.
Murphy said lawmakers were working on a bill to stop evictions and foreclosures during the crisis, which he said he would sign.
“No one should fear being kicked out of their home in this emergency,” Murphy said.
Small business loans are available, but Murphy emphasized the need for federal block grants.
“No one state has enough money to do what we are doing,” he said.
The closures and social distancing orders have led to the delay of some elections. A March 21 special election in the Old Bridge fire district and March 31 special elections in Atlantic City and West Amwell Township and any school elections were moved to May 12. Those elections will be held by mail only. The ballots will be mailed out to all registered New Jersey voters for the May 12 elections. A return envelope with return postage will be included.
Murphy said at this time, the June 2 primary will not be changed.
More businesses were ordered closed as the governor issued an executive order closing all personal care businesses and social clubs that cannot comply with social distancing guidelines. The businesses include nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and hair salons.
Murphy urged residents not to hoard food and other supplies and “refuse the urge to crowd grocery stores.”
A conference call with the attorney general and the governor is set for Friday to discuss closures and social distance requirements.