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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to quarantine after senior staff member tests positive for COVID – WPVI-TV

October 21, 2020
BLACKWOOD, New Jersey — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy abruptly left an event Wednesday after announcing he was going into quarantine, saying he just found out a member of his staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

“A member of the Governor’s senior staff recently tested positive for COVID-19. Per guidance from public health officials, the individual is currently quarantining at home. We have begun the contact tracing process to notify everyone who may have come into contact with our colleague during the potential infection window,” Communications Director Mahen Gunaratna said in a statement.

Murphy, a Democrat, was speaking at a workforce development event his office organized with Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross at Camden County College when he said he had just learned a contact had tested positive.

RELATED: ‘We must be careful’: Gov. Murphy discourages holiday gatherings as New Jersey COVID cases rise

“Out of an abundance of caution and in line with the highest levels of commitment to protecting public health, the Governor and First Lady will be canceling their in-person events and voluntarily quarantining through the end of the weekend, and each will take an additional COVID-19 test before they resume any in-person engagements. The Governor received a coronavirus test on Monday as part of his regularly-scheduled testing regime, which came back negative. The Governor and First Lady were also tested this afternoon, which came back negative,” the statement said.

The governor, 63, said he has no symptoms and last tested negative on Monday.

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“I will now unfortunately have to take myself off the field,” he said. “I can’t ask President Trump not to come to Bedminster and do a fundraiser and have me sit here.”

Murphy was referring to President Donald Trump’s fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club early this month, which occurred just hours before the president said he tested positive for the virus. Murphy earlier called the event irresponsible.

RELATED: NJ’s daily COVID-19 cases doubled in a month: Health Commissioner

Murphy said the Monday negative test didn’t rule out possibly becoming infected over the weekend because of the incubation period of the virus.

Murphy didn’t say who the contact was or what the context of their meeting was.

Murphy began the event by taking off his masks and saying the participants agreed to take them off while speaking at the mic. When he returned to announce that he will quarantine, he kept the mask on.

RELATED: New York won’t enforce New Jersey, Pennsylvania COVID-19 travel quarantines

The first-term governor’s departure from the event seemed to come as a surprise.

“There’s a first every day in this job,” Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo said after Murphy thanked the attendees and walked away. “Governor, I hope you’re OK.”

New Jersey has had more than 222,000 positive cases and 14,438 deaths. The state’s daily coronavirus figures have doubled over the past month, state officials said earlier this week.

Copyright © 2020 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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