Phil Murphy likes sports analogies and this one was a hanging curve ball ready to be smacked.
Just how does he evaluate Donald Trump’s performance regarding COVID-19, the governor was asked at his Wednesday press briefing. More bluntly, is the president a help or a hindrance?
Murphy, who certainly has lambasted the president in the past, stood down.
He pointed out that he and his aides spend more time dealing with Vice President Michael Pence on coronavirus concerns than the president himself.
As for Trump, the only thing of substance the governor said was, “I’ll leave history to the historians.”
A sentence or two later, Murphy did say that the president’s “rhetoric” on the crisis has improved in recent days. But no more than that.
The governor’s reluctance to truly condemn Trump may be based on the fact New Jersey needs help from the feds. Or it could be that Murphy doesn’t think making political points at a time like this is
And it now seems abundantly clear that things are getting worse.
There are now 427 confirmed cases of the virus in New Jersey. More alarmingly, over the last three days, the number of cases has increased by 80, 89 and 162. The curve is not being flattened. It’s expanding.
The governor today seemed most concerned – or perhaps irritated – that some people are still gathering in groups. The state has said that gatherings of more than 50 are prohibited.
And that is something businesses are taking seriously. Tuesday evening in Roxbury, I noticed about a dozen people lined up outside a Home Depot. I soon realized people were only permitted to enter when others left to maintain the 50-limit maximum.
The governor was particularly concerned at what he called “underground” gatherings of more than 50. This conjured up images of dissidents meeting in dark and dreary cellars to plot an overthrow of
But Murphy was thinking about things less revolutionary. He spoke of young people partying in addition to weddings, birthday parties and funerals.
He said police would enfoce the 50-person maximum, setting up the possibility of the gendarmes breaking up grandma’s 80th birthday party.
The governor made no apology. He said he knows many are anxious, but said, “Our job is to be straight with you.”
Then he warned, “Don’t go underground.”
There was a surreal quality about all this, but these are fast becoming chaotic times.
“If you or your great aunt is upset about this, I’m sorry,” the governor said.