New Jersey’s stay-at-home order has been lifted. Outdoor restaurant dining, more retail stores, public swimming pools and children’s daycare centers and camps are about to begin opening. But what happens if there’s a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases and restrictions that are being peeled away are suddenly needed again?

Gov. Phil Murphy doesn’t think we will have to reintroduce a state lock-down this year but he fully expects coronavirus spikes as the reopening continues.

“No matter how good a job we do at our restart and recovery and get the place back open again, the chances are overwhelming we’re going to see some kind of a community flare-up. It’s the nature of this virus,” he said Tuesday.

Murphy said the real question that needs to be answered is: “Do you have the pieces of the puzzle in place that we decidedly as a nation and therefore as a state did not have in place three-plus months ago?”

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He said those puzzle pieces include “everything from the emergency stuff like bed capacity, PPE, ventilators, reserve health care workers and the medicines we’ve been working doggedly to generate.”

Murphy said that before an effective vaccine is developed, everyone will need to continue to rely on social distancing, frequent hand washing and face coverings in public.

Being ready for a second wave also involves having “the testing, contact tracing, isolation, so that folks have the confidence we can surround this thing if it pops up again. To me that’s the big game changer," he said.

He stressed quick, effective identification and containment will be key in stopping the spread of COVID-19 if it indeed comes roaring back. The state currently has capacity for 30,000 tests a day.

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You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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