Governor Phil Murphy and members of his administration said New Jersey will have to live under the Canada fire fog for another day – or two. In the meantime, try to stay inside.
Five school districts made the decision today to close.
“But we don’t see the need to make a blanket move on that front,” Murphy explained. “Depending on where this goes, we leave all options on the table. This is ten to 12 million acres – the range of this thing in Canada – the gorilla event at the basis of this. Unfortunately, climate crisis [related to fire season] has gone from a couple months of the year to four or five months a year, so it’s not just intensity and frequency but the time. We send our thoughts, prayers and resources to Canada, one of our best allies.”
Six-hundred US firefighters have gone to Canada to fight the fires there.
“The watchtowers we have erected at elevation… were completely blocked by haze,” said Murphy. “Look, Smoky the bear always existed before we became aware of the climate crisis. The reality is temperatures are going up, storms are more frequent and more intense, we are more densely populated than before, and when you add that all up that, the intensity and frequency and a longer calendar year, that conspires to bad things in the environment.”
Department of Health Commissioner Judith Perischilli, Department of Environmental Protection Acting Commissioner Kati Angarone, Department of Education Acting Commissioner Angelica Allen-McMillan, and New Jersey State Police Deputy Superintendent Lieutenant Colonel Sean Kilcomons stood with Murphy at the Newark press conference.
Persichilli said 143 people in New Jersey have sought care for asthma since the haze blew in, the highest number in the last two months.
Does Murphy see a return to COVID era mask-mandating?
“We’re not requiring people to embrace certain behavior but we’re probably suggesting- if you’re vulnerable in any way, you shouldn’t be outside,” the governor said. “If you have to be, wear a mask.”
Government entities – like school districts – are making their own judgment calls.
Citing poor visibility, the Port Authority of NY and NJ limited speed to 35 MPH on bridges.
For the moment, “If you see worsening symptoms, go to a health provider or emergency room,” Persichilli said.
State offices closed early yesterday and opened late today.
Why let school districts make their own decisions?
“We’ve only ever closed on a pan-wide basis once in our history,” said Murphy. “That’s not something we take lightly. It’s not a lever we lightly pull. We have over 6oo school districts. We feel strongly decisions should be made locally.”