It would have been symbolic if the weather was gloomy and dank.
But in sharp contrast to the general mood, Sunday morning in New Jersey was bright and sunny – a little cold, but not bitter. A great time to walk, jog or bike ride.
Exercise is still permitted, of course, but when the governor had a mid-afternoon conference call he was irritated that too many people were not taking his “stay at home” order seriously.
Governor Phil Murphy offered only anecdotal information, but he said he had heard enough to be concerned, saying that in some cases, he was “exceedingly disappointed.”
The governor added that, “We will take action.”
It was mentioned at Saturday’s briefing that violating the order would be a disorderly persons offense, a rather minor transgression.
How police move to enforce the edict remains to be seen.
It really would not be easy.
Many businesses – from all types of food stores to hardware stores to dry cleaners – can still open. People do have to venture outside to get to them. Workers in jobs considered essential in some cases also need to travel. All this is why gas stations are open.
So, other than a huge party in the backyard it can be tough on one hand for local police to “take action.”
But on the other hand, they may have plenty of time to plot strategy.
Patrick Callahan, the head of the State Police, said he expected traffic offenses – often a mainstay of local police activity – to be way down. After all, the roads are pretty empty.
Murphy also mentioned without elaboration an uptick in discrimination and bigoted actions against Asian-Americans. Asked about it twice, he declined to cite specific examples..
He did say that such behavior is “repugnant and repulsive” in normal times, but more so during the crisis at hand.
Whatever may be happening in New Jersey would not be unique. There have been periodic reports in recent weeks of Asians being verbally and sometimes physically attacked in New York City.
This, sadly, is not surprising, Some may recall the same thing happening to gay men during the outbreak of AIDS more than 30 years ago. The bigoted always need a scapegoat when times get rough.
Murphy during these times has been striving to avoid partisan politics. Still, it can not be ignored that the president continues to call COVID-19 a “Chinese virus,” thereby giving cover to those inclined to lash out.
The “good” news here has to be taken with a heavy dose of creativity.
There are now 1,914 cases of the virus in New Jersey, 590 more than Saturday.
The governor said this is expected, given the fact testing across the state is being ramped up.
Generally speaking, testing is good. It allows those who have the virus to begin treatment – most do recover – and it gives those who don’t some peace of mind.
But the unknown remains.
When will we see the number of cases from day-to-day decrease?