The governor began his daily briefing Friday with philosophical musings about how the crisis is uniting New Jersey and ended it with a testy exchange with a “journalist” about the closing of gun shops, an
issue that continues to surface.
In the midst of all that, Phil Murphy seemed to express annoyance that too many people showing up at coronavirus test sites do not have symptoms of the disease.
Let’s break it all down.
The raw numbers remain troubling, even scary. There were 1,982 new cases since Thursday and an additional 27 deaths, There are now 8,825 coronavirus cases in the state, 108 of which have been fatal.
Murphy often says increased testing is one reason new cases are spiking. So, the silver lining here is that testing is providing a more accurate count, thereby giving health professionals a better understanding of the problem.
Then again, testing equipment is limited, which is why it’s been stressed from the outset that only those who feel sick should show up to be tested at sites around the state.
The governor doubled down on that today, saying that if too many of the “worried well” appear for testing it taxes supplies and personnel.
That point was clearly on his mind a few minutes later when he was asked about how people who have their driver’s license suspended can be tested. A driver’s license normally is needed for ID purposes.
Sure, this was a bit of an oddball question. Those without licenses can’t drive – at least legally – to a drive-in testing site. At any rate, the governor pointed out that unless they are showing signs of the disease, there’s no reason to have the conversation.
On a more uplifting note, Murphy commented favorably on how the crisis is binding the state together. While this is very much a cliche, the governor was sincere.
“This grave moment is reaching deep into our souls,” he said, adding that it makes the usual political battles of the day seem trivial.
He didn’t elaborate, so he could have been talking about his skirmishes with Democrats in the Legislature, Republicans or even the president. Since the crisis began, Murphy has lessened his normal
criticism of Donald Trump.
Perhaps he was talking about all three. No matter, the governor said this sort of kumbaya moment was uplifting and cathartic.
But such feelings don’t last forever. In this case, not even to the end of the briefing.
Gun shops are closed in New Jersey because they are not considered essential businesses. Some Republicans have criticized this and for the third time in the last few days, a fellow who introduced himself as Alejandro from the New Jersey Second Amendment Society asked the governor why gun shops were closed. He said it violated the constitution and perhaps even federal guidelines as to what businesses are essential.
The governor retorted that the questioner, who was Alex “Alejandro” Roubian, should not be at the briefing because he isn’t an actual journalist.
A quick online check shows that Roubian certainly writes pieces on his website. Then again, the New Jersey Second Amendment Society does not appear to be a genuine news organization.
The governor said briefings are for legitimate reporters only. No matter, calling himself a “nice guy,” Murphy permitted Roubian to again ask about the closing of gun shops.
The governor responded that he had “nothing to add” to his position that gun stores are not essential.