TRENTON, NJ - While reminding the Garden State community that "more residents are going to be lost to this pandemic, this is not a moment of closure, not a moment of triumph," New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, at his daily COVID-19 briefing July 2, announced that flags will return to full staff July 3.
Murphy said the move is "a sign of rebirth for our state as we keep moving down our road back."
Flags have been lowered for the past 90 days to honor those who have lost their lives during the pandemic.
Also effective July 3, the size of outdoor gatherings can increase to 500 from 250. First amendment protected outdoor activities, such as political or religious gatherings, are not subject to the crowd-size restrictions.
Murphy also extended the state's public health emergency status for an additional 30 days.
Locally, the City of Summit again, for the 12th time in the past two weeks, reported no new cases of COVID-19, with the total number of cases since the pandemic continuing to hold at 215.
The state reported the following COVID-19 statistics:
Total Cases: 172,356
New Cases: 539
Hospital Admissions: 51
ICU / CCU Patients: :216
Patients on Ventilators:170
Total Deaths: 13,251
New Deaths: 27
Murphy clarified that "knucklehead behavior" -- his term for "non-compliant, unacceptable behavior" -- is not the reason behind the delay relative to opening indoor dining. Rather, the governor strongly pointed out the "lethality" of the virus indoors versus outdoors -- particularly how the virus transmits -- is the main reason for the delay, and cited "overwhelming" evidence of that fact along with the dramatic rises in cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and several other states.
Murphy also noted that the state has received more 1.3 million initial unemployment claims during the past three-plus months, and that 96% of those deemed monetarily eligible have received at least one / a payment. Through June 27, the state has paid out $2.8 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and the Federal government has paid out another $6.28 billion in financial assistance to New Jerseyans.