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Coronavirus New Jersey: Gov. Murphy Says Remains Unclear Exactly When State Will Reopen As Cases Near 80,000, Death Toll Tops 3,800

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- Officials in New Jersey say it will be a while before the Garden State reopens for business. However, the governor and others pointed to some positive signs in the fight against COVID-19 on Friday.

In announcing another 3,200 coronavirus cases and 323 deaths, New Jersey health officials say key indicators show COVID-19 is peaking in parts of the state. Hospitalizations and ventilator use have steadily declined all week.

"I would think in the north, we have seen the peak and we have not seen it in central and south, and it's coming," Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.

Gov. Phil Murphy says he spoke with the White House Thursday night and he does not believe New Jersey is ready to begin President Donald Trump's three-phase proposal for reopening the state.

"We need to have confidence that we've broken the back of this virus, that we have health care infrastructure in place as we begin to open the state back up," Murphy said.

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Earlier this week, Murphy pushed reopening schools back to at least May 15. It's a decision that gives some hope that reopening businesses and houses of worship isn't far off.

"I'm seeing a little bit of wear and tear with people. Hearing more and more from people, 'Hey, when are we coming back? When is this going to be over with?'" said Pastor Gary Clark, from Calvary Chapel in Gloucester County.

Clark says safety is everyone's top priority but he's anxious to hear not only a timetable for holding church services again, but also guidance on what it will look like.

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Do they have to cut their capacity by half? Do they need to take people's temperatures and require masks?

"For us, we would like to be back the sooner, the better, but what is that going to mean, you know?" Clark said.

With COVID-19 data changing everyday, and mostly in the right direction, New Jersey officials believe they will be better informed and equipped over the next four weeks to determine when and how things go back to some version of normal.

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