Phil Murphy’s briefing today included pictures of young people lined up outside a bar and a sketch resembling something out of a medical textbook.
But none of these visual aids had anything to do with Donald Trump.
There is a connection here – really.
As is his custom, the governor highlighted “knucklehead” behavior over the weekend. Enter pictures of mostly young people lined up to enter three bars along the Jersey Shore.
He said that COVID-19 could easily spread through the line. And demonstrating how lethal the virus can be, another photo showed dots and circles that represented how one person infected nine others at an indoor restaurant in China. Now, Murphy was talking about people lined up outside, but his point here was twofold – you can’t take chances with the virus and this is another reason why indoor dining, which was supposed to resume on July 2, is still not happening.
The governor said he is seeing “numerous examples” of bars not doing enough to supervise and regulate their patrons.
“If we have to shut places down to protect public health, we will,” Murphy said. That’s a warning, he added.
Then, there are the house parties. Last week, there was a massive house party in Alpine.
This past weekend, the locale was Howell. Murphy said about 400 people attended and that it took eight police agencies to disperse the revelers.
“Come on, man,” Murphy said, an expression he’s used before.
Now we come to the president, who held two press events over the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster.
But they were more than press events. Both times, club members were in attendance as a sort of cheering section, standing close together with most not wearing masks.
What did Murphy think about this?
“Any pictures of people inside on top of each other not wearing face coverings should concern us,” the governor said.
Will anyone be summoned?
Surely, any attempt by state government to ticket an event held by the president would be fun to see.
Murphy didn’t take the bait, saying that he had no “insight” on why there were no summonses.
It was pointed out that the president called the event a “protest.” That’s more than mere semantics.
The governor a few months ago said political events and “protests” are excluded from state regulations regarding outdoor, but not indoor, gatherings. Gee, who knew Trump paid attention to New Jersey politics.
If Murphy shied away from commenting on the audience at Trump’s press events, he was more willing to talk about the substance.
He criticized some of the pandemic-related executive orders the president signed as unhelpful.
Murphy said suspending the payroll tax, which supports Social Security and Medicare, offers no help to the unemployed, who, of course, are not getting a paycheck. He said Trump’s plan for $400 a week in supplemental unemployment insurance – it had been $600 – is faulty because the states would need to pay 25 percent of the cost and many can’t afford it.
More broadly, the governor said he’s upset that the president proposed “not one dime” for state and local governments struggling with the pandemic.