Rep. Josh Gottheimer says New Jersey is flattening coronavirus curve

The coronavirus pandemic is beginning to show signs that it is nearing a peak in New Jersey, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., told CNBC on Tuesday.

“What we’re doing is working,” Gottheimer said on “Squawk Box.” “Our death toll is still way too high, and it’s just awful the number of people who are sick. … But the good news is it seems there is some light on the horizon.” 

More than 41,000 cases have been confirmed in New Jersey, including more than 1,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Gottheimer said about 20% of the state’s cases have been in his northern New Jersey district, which includes Bergen and Sussex counties.

Earlier Tuesday, the head of New Jersey’s largest health-care network told “Squawk Box” he’s “certainly encouraged” by recent COVID-19 data. 

“The number of new cases each day were in the double digits. They were about 35% increase every 24 hours about a week ago,” Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert Garrett said. “These last few days, they’ve been in the single digits.”

“We’re hoping but we’re not getting too happy quite yet. But we’re hoping that we’re starting to see that top of the curve.”

Gov. Phil Murphy also expressed optimism Monday on CNBC: “Too early to tell, but we are seeing the positive cases that are coming out each day continue to show a little bit of a sign of flattening, and that’s a good thing,”

New Jersey has the nation’s second highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths, behind New York state’s over 131,830 infections and 4,758 fatalities. The U.S. has the most cases of any country with over 368,400 infections and the third highest number of deaths, 10,993. Global cases topped 1.36 million with 75,972 deaths and over 265,400 recoveries.

Despite the apparent positive signs, Gottheimer stressed that New Jersey should not undo its social distancing measures too quickly. “We have to make sure that people are safe,” he said. 

But he said the impact on small businesses and workers across the state has been significant. In conversations with business owners and employees, anxiety over their future has been a consistent theme, he said.

Gottheimer, co-chair of the House’s bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said he believes that “we need to be really smart” about when “we reopen America.” 

“I think we can do it in phases. I think we need to make sure that we get massive rapid testing up. We need to make sure we have protective equipment in place and our hospitals are in good place,” he added. “All of those things need to be factored in when we start looking at this, and I think we really need to have a back-to-business plan as soon as we can.”

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