Health and Science

NJ governor hopes to use a 'scalpel' to deal with coronavirus hot spots not another broad shutdown

Key Points
  • New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday he hopes to avoid broad lockdowns to deal with rising coronavirus cases in the state and the nation.
  • "We're less likely to use blunt instruments we used in March and April ... and much more likely to use a scalpel," he told CNBC.
  • Murphy described the escalation of coronavirus cases in the state as "hot spots" and not everywhere.
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on preparing for a second wave of coronavirus during the fall

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday on CNBC he hopes to avoid broad economic lockdowns to deal with rising coronavirus cases in the state and the nation.

"I think we're less likely, and please God that this is the case, we're less likely to use blunt instruments we used in March and April when we shut the garage doors down on everything, and much more likely to use a scalpel and go into a particular community," Murphy told "Squawk Box."

The governor acknowledged that new Covid-19 cases in New Jersey have been moving higher between 700 and under 1,000 per day recently. "We've come a long way but our numbers are up, there's no question about it, over the past several weeks," he said. "For instance, higher education has been a challenge," adding he's putting more resources behind contact tracing and testing at state colleges and universities.

Murphy described the escalation of coronavirus cases in the state as "hot spots" and not everywhere. "But there's a fair amount of community spread," he said, explaining people are mostly following virus mitigation measures, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing, when they are out in public. However, people are letting their guards down at homes and in "frat houses," he stressed.

Murphy urged people feeling ill to "take yourself off the field" and self-quarantine. He said government officials need to continue to stay on the "bullhorn" to encourage people to stay vigilant.

The governor also said that while coronavirus testing has been a challenge and there's been a lack a national strategy in responding to the pandemic, it's not too late to get a federal mandate on mask-wearing and other measures that scientists recommend for helping protect against transmission.

There is emerging concern that spikes in Covid-19 cases in Europe may be indicative of what the U.S. may see in the coming weeks as colder weather brings Americans indoors where risks of transmission of the disease are greater. New cases in Europe have recently been running at about 100,000 per day — about double the U.S.

The British government on Thursday announced tougher coronavirus restrictions for London in an attempt to curb the rapid spread of the virus. The U.K.'s capital city will move to a "high" alert level starting midnight Friday, up from the current "medium" alert level. European nations generally saw their peaks a few weeks ahead the U.S. earlier this year.