Murphy unleashes executive caveat to retain pandemic power even if the rate of transmission drops below 1

When the COVID-19 rate of transmission rose above 1 in New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy’s pandemic executive order power was reinvoked. Under the law passed by the Democrat Senate and Assembly, as long as the RT is above one, Murphy can once again rule the state as a supreme authoritative force when it comes to COVID-19.

Over the past two months, the RT had appeared to be on a track to climb over two, but today, the rate of transmission is hovering at 1.08. This week, the RT may drop below one.

When the RT drops below one, Phil Murphy’s executive order powers will once again be revoked, right? We can all go back to living freely in New Jersey as we did for few weeks before the delta variant hit!

Wrong. Even if the RT drops below one, the vagueness of the law that grants him those powers allows for certain unmeasured caveats to retain his power. On Monday, Murphy indicated that he would be using those caveats to retain pandemic powers.

Here’s how the law reads, “The most recent executive order containing general coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) mitigation measures regarding face coverings, social distancing, and gatherings prior to the effective date of this act, and this executive order shall not be more restrictive than the recommendations provided in the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on social distancing and face coverings in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, unless a substantial increase in hospitalizations, substantially increased spot positivity, or rate of transmission above 1 necessitates a modification that would be more restrictive.”

What is says is that even if the RT drops below 1, Murphy can fall back to hospitalization statistics to retain his power. That data is provided to the state by hospitals statewide and is curated by Murphy’s administration. In essence, it’s data that the government owns and controls.

Now, as the RT continues its downward trend below one, Murphy made it clear, he’s not giving up his power and will use metrics from hospital data and spot positivity to continue his pandemic level authority.

Instead, Murphy is shifting toward a 10% uptick in hospitalizations.

“Good news is the rate of transmission continues to decline, though it is still over one and it shows, therefore, an increasing spread of the virus,” Murphy said. “Here are the latest numbers from our hospitals. The total number of hospitalizations is up a little more than 10% from last Monday as is the ICU count, but the number of ventilators in use has increased by about 25% over the past week. These figures should be a wake-up call to the threat that the Delta variant poses, again, overwhelmingly to the unvaccinated.”

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