New Jersey governor says reopening economy too soon "could be throwing gasoline on the fire"

New Jersey gov: Opening economy too soon "could be throwing gasoline on the fire"
New Jersey gov: Opening economy too soon "cou... 05:50

Washington — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy cautioned Sunday against a swift reopening of the economy as the country continues to try to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, saying an economic reboot that comes before the virus is under control could be like "throwing gasoline on the fire."

"Any sort of economic reopening or recovery depends first and foremost on a complete health care recovery," Murphy said on "Face the Nation." "Getting that sequencing right, I think based on the data and the facts that we're seeing, is incredibly essential and that, if we either transpose those steps or we start to get back on our feet too soon, I fear based on the data we're looking at, we could be throwing gasoline on the fire."

New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation, sits between two hotspots in the coronavirus pandemic: New York City and Philadelphia. The state has had more than 58,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Sunday there could be a rolling reopening of the U.S. economy beginning as soon as next month depending on location, the nature of the coronavirus outbreak already experienced and the threat of another outbreak.

While Murphy said he would be the "happiest guy in New Jersey if not America" if that were to happen, he stressed the focus for his state should be first on recovery from the coronavirus.

"The pain is awful," he said. "We get that in terms of unemployment, small businesses, but based on how we see this evolving, I'm all for an economic recovery, but it's got to be on the back of a full health care recovery."

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, and other cities become hotspots, Murphy and the leaders of other states have been looking to secure more ventilators for patients admitted to the hospital battling COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Murphy said Sunday he has asked the White House for ventilators and other personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile and has received the supplies over the last few weeks, but is still looking elsewhere for crucial equipment.

"We continue to be shy on all fronts, and we are constantly and persistently not just asking the White House from this federal stockpile for more support, but also turning over every stone in New Jersey, around the country and, frankly, around the world," he said.

While state and local governments have received federal funding to assist with the response to the coronavirus, congressional Democrats are calling for an additional $150 billion to assist in their efforts, in addition to $250 billion more for small businesses who have been weathering the economic impacts of the outbreak.

The National Governors Association, meanwhile, issued a request Saturday for $500 billion. Murphy said he supports the organization's demand, and said his state, along with Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York, need $100 billion alone.

"We're going to need all of the above," he said.