Effusive Murphy Chooses to Bench Press Only the Public Good – for Now


Phil Murphy thanks people every day.

While this is not the time for cheerleading, the governor has been quick to praise how the public is fighting COVID-19. That’s become especially true as hospitalizations and the number of patients on
ventilators decrease. There are still far too many new cases and reported deaths – 1,055 and 162 respectively today – but the overall news is better than it was a month ago.

“You all out there have made this happen,” the governor said today to the public at large in his daily televised briefing.

How about the people who aren’t helping?

For the second day in a row, a gym and health club in Bellmawr, Camden County opened in defiance of state executive orders.

Murphy left no doubt he thinks gyms should remain closed. Evolving state policy suggests outside activities are safer than inside ones.

“We’re not there on gyms,” he said regarding their reopening. State Police head Pat Callahan, a briefing regular, said the owner was ticketed for the second consecutive day. He added that local officials
– municipal and county – will decide if patrons showing up today also should be summoned.

Is that all?

One of the first questioners got around to that by noting the state is moving to permanently close some bars that illegally stayed open by revoking their liquor license.

Why treat the gym differently?

The governor and Callahan said all violators are being treated the same.

Not really.

Saying that further action is being left up to local authorities sounds like the correct response by state officials in a place where “home rule” is king. But let’s be real. The Camden County Prosecutor answers to the state AG, who answers to the governor.

Patrons would have been summoned and the gym possibly padlocked to prevent any thoughts of future reopenings if the state wanted that to be done.

There are legitimate reasons to avoid an over-the-top response. Murphy said Monday he didn’t want to start World War III.

At the same time, it is problematic – and will continue to be so – if the state just allows a gym to reopen every day. Just why should other so-called non-essential businesses adhere to executive orders if
they’re not truly enforced?

Now, there is a political component to all this. After all, the gym owner originally announced his intention to reopen on the Tucker Carlson TV show. News reports said some supporters cheering on the gym owner on Monday waved American flags and proclaimed their support for Donald Trump.

It’s a bit crazy some people think putting their health at risk is patriotic.  However, the same sentiment was on display at April’s anti-lockdown rally in Trenton. In the current political climate, those on the right support quickly easing pandemic restrictions; those on the left see good health as the priority.
Murphy may not want to wade into that mess.

Yet on the other hand, if you want everyone to follow the law, it helps to crackdown hard on violators.

Otherwise, Murphy may have no one to thank at future briefings.

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