NJ Gov. Murphy reinstates public health emergency to maintain COVID powers

Coronavirus Update New Jersey
PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy reinstated a Public Health Emergency Tuesday, effective immediately, in order to ensure that the state is able to respond to the continued threat of COVID-19 and the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

Murphy's emergency COVID powers were set to expire, but the order allows him to continue initiatives like mask mandates in schools -- which he said would continue for the "foreseeable future."

Earlier, he said his administration was "having very construction deliberations" with the state legislators to continue his powers past Tuesday.

"It's pretty clear all of us think this is not the time to lay down our weapons," he said on MSNBC. "This thing is raging, but I'm highly confident we have the things in place that we will need to have in place to continue to fight this thing."

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The Public Health Emergency will allow the state to continue vaccine distribution, vaccination or testing requirements in certain settings, the collection of COVID-19 data, implementation of any applicable recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent or limit the transmission of COVID-19, staffing and resource allocation, and other components of the state's COVID-19 response.

"COVID-19 remains a significant threat to our state, and we must commit every resource available to beating back the wave caused by the Omicron variant," Murphy said. "While we hope to return to a state of normalcy as soon as possible, the step I am taking today is a commonsense measure that will protect the safety and well-being of all New Jersey residents while allowing state government to respond to the continuing threat that COVID-19 poses to our daily lives."

The public health emergency declaration also empowers all state agencies to take all appropriate steps to continue to address the public health hazard resulting from new variants of COVID-19.

Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, the Public Health Emergency will expire after 30 days, unless renewed.

Elsewhere in the state, 12 COVID testing sites opened Tuesday for students and staff at Paterson Public Schools.

School officials want everyone to know their status, so they're not COVID positive when in-person learning resumes in a week.

The testing sites will be open for several hours each day through Saturday.

Paterson, which is New Jersey's fourth-largest district, hasn't had in-person classes since before Christmas break.

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