With apologies to Don Henley, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a message for state residents reminiscent of The Eagles' classic holiday song: Please stay home for Christmas.
The Democratic governor on Wednesday used his final coronavirus briefing before the holiday to urge New Jerseyans not to gather with extended family as a means of limiting the spread of the virus.
"You're sick of hearing this, and I don't blame you, but don't screw up Christmas," he said. "Don't go big. Don't go multi-generational. Stay within your immediate family."
Murphy spoke as New Jersey recorded its first instance since May of back-to-back days when the state death toll from the virus exceeded 100. Although below the levels seen earlier this year, hospitalizations from the virus have been increasing recently, he said.
"That's one thing we can't let happen, to let our hospital systems get overrun," he said. "This year cannot be the year for (a) large Christmas with family and friends; this is the way it's got to be. We don't want anybody's Christmas to lead to anybody becoming sick or hospitalized."
Murphy suggested that people greet family members from beyond their immediate family outdoors, if they must do so at all.
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State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said that as of Wednesday morning, 27,730 New Jersey health care workers had been vaccinated against the coronavirus.
She said an effort involving the national pharmacy chains CVS and Walgreens will begin on Monday to inoculate residents of nursing homes and other residential health care facilities. Ninety facilities are scheduled to host vaccination clinics next week, Persichilli said.
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said stormy weather Thursday night into Friday morning could lead to power outages in some spots on Christmas morning, recommending that residents with generators prepare them for use on the holiday if needed.
Murphy said New Jersey has recorded more than 16,500 confirmed coronavirus deaths thus far.
"These are all families whose Christmas will be remembered by a family member no longer with them," he said.