Another seven people died of complications from COVID-19, which means there have now been 14,306 confirmed deaths and 1,791 probable deaths from the pandemic in New Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy also renewed the state’s public health emergency, which expires unless it is re-upped every 30 days.
Cases rise in a handful of counties
State health officials reported slight upticks in coronavirus infections in a few New Jersey counties, though the increases did not appear to follow a regional pattern.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said Monmouth, Gloucester, Middlesex, and Bergen Counties were all seeing spikes in infections.
Ocean County was also seeing a surge in new infections, she said, with between 100 and 150 new cases per day and more than half of those in Lakewood.
“We have sent 6,000 test kits to enable increased testing. We have also dispatched additional contact tracers, and we will be sending more next week,” Persichilli said.
Students in off-campus housing at Rowan University contributed to higher numbers in Gloucester County, she added.
State budget inches closer to law
Gov. Murphy says he will sign the nine-month, $32.7 billion state budget passed by lawmakers as soon as next week.
Murphy and lawmakers reached a deal on the budget in recent days, so it was all but assured that he would sign it into law. But Murphy’s pledge to sign the bill now guarantees that the state will hike taxes on millionaires and businesses, and borrow $4.5 billion to pay for its coronavirus recovery.
“I will break with tradition and say that I will be signing the budget as is,” Murphy said Friday during his regular coronavirus briefing. Typically governors use their line-item veto power to remove some spending from the budget bill.
Some of Murphy’s other budget proposals — such as a new “baby bonds” initiative, a tax hike on cigarettes, and an increase in gun permit fees — did not make it into the final version.