Gov. Phil Murphy quarantining again after family member tests positive for COVID
Gov. Phil Murphy left a press conference early minutes after learning he was in close proximity with someone who just tested positive for COVID-19. Asbury Park Press
Gov. Phil Murphy is quarantining after a member of his family tested positive for COVID-19, his office said Wednesday, just as he was supposed to deliver his regular coronavirus briefing.
The office did not identify the family member who tested positive, but Murphy said "it is not" his wife, Tammy. She and the governor took tests Wednesday that came back negative.
It is the second time Murphy has isolated himself out of what his communications director, Mahen Gunaratna, called "an abundance of caution." He said that "after careful review," Murphy "does not qualify as an exposed close contact."
Still, Murphy, a father of four, is voluntarily quarantining and canceled all in-person events.
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Gunaratna said the "exceedingly cautious steps are part of that ongoing commitment" to limiting the spread of COVID-19.
"We are being extra, extra careful here, adhering both to the CDC guidelines but also taking no chances," Murphy said at his briefing, which was done virtually.
Murphy, 63, whose immune system was compromised after kidney surgery last year, has not been vaccinated. He's declined getting inoculated because, he's said, more vulnerable people should be ahead of him.
"I'm confident that at some point sooner than later, people in my category will be up to bat for the vaccine, but I continue to want to make sure that we're prioritizing right now two types of people, the folks who we need to help us defeat the virus and the folks that we know are most vulnerable," Murphy said.
The sudden announcement from Murphy's office was reminiscent of the first time the governor quarantined.
He had been notified just before a public event in October that an aide with whom he was at a "social engagement" the prior weekend had tested positive, so he abruptly left to isolate.
This time, Murphy was set to host his coronavirus briefing at 1 p.m. when his office announced that it was postponed and would instead be held virtually. It wasn't clear exactly how long Murphy plans to quarantine, but he said it would likely be for "the next number of days."
In the meantime, Gunaratna said, "The contact tracing process has begun to notify everyone who may have come into contact with the governor’s family member during the potential infection window."
Dustin Racioppi is a reporter in the New Jersey Statehouse. For unlimited access to his work covering New Jersey’s governor and political power structure, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.