"This is a war. It is the fight of our lives. Wars are not won by one person or one small group. They're won when millions of people come together in a common cause," he said. "Our cause right now is totally flattening the curve and then seeing it drop down the other side. Then we can begin the process responsibly along with our neighbors of reopening our state and beginning to live life in our new normal."
"This is no time to let up. We have got to keep at it," he said, stressing the need for cases of coronavirus to fall to "a manageable reality" where experts can reconsider social distancing measures. Murphy emphasized "a responsible re-opening" with health care infrastructure and protocols that "frankly, we don't have at the moment."
Such protocols include fast and accurate coronavirus testing and the ability to trace the contacts of infected people to prevent contagion from spreading. Citing discussions with experts, Murphy said he thought a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus was unlikely earlier than a year or a year and a half from now.
Doherty's petition, hosted at the website of the New Jersey Senate Republicans, said people have been denied the opportunity to attend religious services that "could provide hope, solace, and a sense of community during this time of social distancing and isolation due to the coronavirus."
According to the petition, "it is possible for churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues to operate safely through reasonable precautions, including outdoor services, social distancing, and limitations on the size of gatherings."
The petition cited the constitutional right to practice religion that "should not be impeded through overly restrictive executive orders."
"Governor Murphy should recognize that religious services are no less essential to people's needs than retail services, such as lottery and liquor sales, that have been allowed to continue," it said.
CNA sought comment from Senator Doherty but did not receive a response by deadline.
The senator is a strong advocate of lifting New Jersey limitations on small businesses, saying "the state needs to reopen sooner rather than later."
"The cure is becoming much worse than the disease. The idea that churches will be shut down until July is unacceptable," he said April 15, according to Insider NJ.
He objected to the governor's refusal to allow churches to conduct "outdoor, open air services with proper spacing" while "allowing the essential service of selling more booze to desperate citizens, and allowing customers to pull up to fast food take out windows where the spacing between the customer and the server is zero inches."
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