Chris Christie is one of more than 600 New Jerseyans hospitalized for COVID-19, but, not surprisingly, he was the only one Phil Murphy was asked about today.
“I exchanged notes with Governor Christie last night,” the governor said at his routine briefing. “I have no further insight.”
Christie has been in Morristown Memorial Hospital since last weekend, but little public information has been released about his condition. He is a private citizen, these days, but on the other hand, he’s also a former governor.
As is often the case, the lack of information has led to some irresponsible, and mindless, social media speculation that Christie may not be doing well.
On Wednesday, a close associate of the former governor said he’s doing fine and that he should be released from the hospital soon.
Murphy had no update on that, but he did say he’s confident his predecessor will beat the virus.
“He’s a fighter,” Murphy said of Christie. “Let there be no doubt about it. He is the quintessential New Jersey fighter.”
Christie may have been an interesting sideshow; the main point today was a sobering one – COVID cases are rising again.
The governor reported 1,301 new cases, a significant increase over what we’ve seen the last two months or so. In fact, today’s number of reported cases was the highest since late May.
Murphy’s reaction over the course of the hour-long briefing was two-fold.
He said the metrics in the state are still among the best in the country.
But on the other hand, he’s concerned about the rising numbers and where they may lead.
So concerned that a reporter observed that Murphy seemed “a little freaked out.”
To which the governor responded, “I wouldn’t say freaked out.”
Still, he was clearly frustrated.
One reason had to do with Lakewood, which produced 206 of the new cases. A round table discussion about rising cases in all of Ocean County and nearby Monmouth County was held last week.
And then there’s the president.
Murphy is still miffed at Donald Trump for holding a fundraiser a week ago in Bedminster. In that vein, the governor volunteered that he “attended” three fundraisers Wednesday night, all of which were virtual.
He also criticized the president for taking off his mask upon returning to the White House Monday evening after being treated for the virus.
Murphy said Trump’s rather cavalier attitude is in stark contrast to the views of those who have lost family members to COVID.
The increase in cases is raising fears of a predicted “second wave.”
Without a vaccine, the only thing the state can do in response is to continue enforcing social distancing, capacity limits and mask wearing.
And yes, the governor acknowledged, there may be those who are weary of the fight, or who still don’t get it.
“Wake up, for crying out loud, wake-up,” Murphy said.