Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at a coronavirus briefing in the spring. | Pool Photos by Kevin Sanders/New Jesey Globe
HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. — New Jersey Gov Phil Murphy said Tuesday that state and local health officers have not identified any outbreaks of coronavirus linked to attendance at a fundraiser earlier this month at President Donald Trump’s golf club in Bedminster.
“We’re not aware of any outbreaks and the federal response was extremely disappointing,” Murphy told reporters after an unrelated press conference with Sen. Bob Menendez, Rep. Tom Malinowski (both D-N.J.) and state legislative leaders in Somerset County, about 20 miles from Trump National Golf Club Bedminster.
Background: Trump hosted the $2,800 per-ticket fundraiser at his golf club on of Oct. 1, just hours before announcing he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Hope Hicks, a close White House aide with whom the president had been in contact, tested positive for Covid-19 on Oct. 1, shortly before Trump departed for Bedminster.
“We’ve done everything we can do,” Murphy said Tuesday. “Somerset County [health department] has done everything they can do, as has Bedminster.”
Why it matters: Given the number of cases linked to the White House, Trump and his inner circle, health officials in New Jersey were worried Trump’s Bedminster fundraiser could become a superspreader event. Several prominent Republicans, including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, were stricken with the virus after attending a Rose Garden ceremony celebrating Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the days after Trump’s diagnosis, state and local health officials in New Jersey scrambled to contact the 206 paid attendees and 19 staff members who’d worked the Bedminster event. Murphy blistered the president in a series of media appearances the following week.
“We don’t need folks coming in, knowingly exposed to a Covid-positive individual, and then be in the midst of a couple of hundred people in New Jersey,” Murphy said during a press briefing last week. “That’s the last thing we need.”
More context: Trump’s presence in New Jersey coincided with a dangerous uptick in the number of active cases reported by state officials.
On Tuesday, Murphy said that state officials had received reports of nearly 1,000 new cases over the previous day, the type of numbers New Jersey hadn’t seen since May. More than 215,000 residents have tested positive for the virus since March 4.
Many of the largest outbreaks in recent weeks have been linked to Orthodox communities in Ocean County, most notably Lakewood, as well as clusters around universities. At Monmouth University, where administrators pivoted to indoor instruction a little less than two weeks ago, President Patrick Leahy says a “super-spreader” event off-campus has been linked to an “overwhelming majority” of its recent cases.
More than 16,100 New Jerseyans are believed to have died from Covid-19 since March, more than any state except New York, California and Texas.
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