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Because of Rising China Virus Numbers New Jersey Pushes Back Election Certification

(The Center Square) – Gov. Phil Murphy is extending election certification deadlines to account for coronavirus outbreaks, but he remains hopeful that a vaccine will arrive in New Jersey by late December. Screen Shot 2020-03-21 at 19.19.25

New Jersey is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations are at a record high for the past six months and health officials have reported more between 3,600 and 4,300 new cases each day for the past three days, according to statistics from the New Jersey Department of Health. As of Friday, 2,505 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 and 233 of them are on ventilators. Three hundred and thirty-three patients were admitted on Thursday.

Murphy said at his Friday news conference the situation was different from the early days of the pandemic.

“We have a testing program in place that is working overtime,” Murphy said. “We have the resources to continue to ensure a full testing regime across the state, and to ramp-up testing when hot spots emerge.”

Pfizer announced Friday that it will apply to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization for its vaccine. The vaccine was more than 90% effective in clinical trials, the pharmaceutical company said.

“If approved, we'd expect our first shipment of 130,000 doses to arrive around Christmas,” Murphy said.

The governor issued an executive order giving counties extra time to certify Nov. 3 election results after two counties had to stop counting ballots due to coronavirus outbreaks.

The executive order also moves the audit deadline for New Jersey’s 21 counties from Dec. 4 to Dec. 11.

Seventeen positive COVID-19 cases were reported in Ocean County, which halted the count until the counting facility could be sanitized. Another case was reported and the counting stopped until Nov. 16. Overall, five counting days were lost. Salem County also stopped counting ballots after 17 staff members tested positive, according to the order.

The delay is not expected to affect any of the state’s races, and the last contested race ended Thursday. New Jersey Senate Republican leader Thomas Kean Jr. conceded to Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski in a 7th District Congressional race that was decided by a 1 percent margin.

Murphy joined other health officials in asking residents to scale down their holiday celebrations because of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We have to get into a different mindset for the next six weeks, and put our health and the health of our loved ones before our want to party,” Murphy said.