TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - Elective surgeries will resume in New Jersey the day after Memorial Day thanks to an executive order announced on Friday, just as the Garden State hit a grim new coronavirus milestone.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who ordered the suspension of such medical procedures when the coronavirus began in early March just days after his own surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, made the announcement during his daily COVID-19 briefing.
"Allowing for these procedures to resume is a big step forward for public health," said Murphy. "We're able to do this on May 26 because the data were received daily from within our hospitals, says we can."
Though the pandemic situation in New Jersey has improved, the state still saw a 24-hour increase of 201 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 illness, putting it over the 10,000 death mark, a number the governor called "staggering."
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New Jersey's toll is second in the country only to New York, but like its neighbor, its overall numbers on the pandemic have been improving.
"Overall hospital hospitalizations are down by more than half since the peak, and more than a third in the past two weeks," said Murphy. "The number of patients needing intensive care or a ventilator are both well off where they both were from the peak."
New York State has been allowing elective surgeries to resume in some counties since April 21, adding new locations as areas met Gov. Andrew Cuomo's safety guidelines.
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On Wednesday, Murphy made an executive order to allow non-essential construction, curbside retail pickup, drive-through and drive-in events to resume operations effective Monday morning at 6 a.m., under social distancing guidelines.
The decision was made to allow these businesses to get up and running again because the data on COVID-19 hospitalizations suggests the state has made enough progress to do so safely.
On Thursday, Murphy announced beaches and lakefront communities would have limited reopening under social distance guidelines next week ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
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