Phil Murphy

Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jersey has had a total of 198 deaths and nearly 17,000 cases of COVID-19.

— Gov. Phil Murphy’s Office/Edwin J. Torres, file

TRENTON, N.J. — Eight residents of a nursing home in northern New Jersey have died from COVID-19, and the total number of deaths in the state approaches 200, officials said.

Wanaque Mayor Michael Mahler said in a letter on the town’s website that the community nurse notified him that the deaths occurred at Lakeland nursing home and that other residents and staff members also were infected.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday that the number of positive cases was nearly 17,000, and there were 198 deaths so far, up from 161.

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The number of nursing homes with positive COVID-19 cases continues to climb, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said. There are positive cases now in 73 of the state’s 375 facilities. Last week the figure was just over a dozen.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

A look at other developments:

Brew pubs, auto retail and guns

New Jersey brew pubs will now be able to deliver, Murphy said Monday. The state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control had previously barred such delivery.

He also said that auto retailers would be permitted to conduct online sales, with customers allowed to pick up vehicles at dealers or for dealers to deliver.

Gun retailers, which were shuttered, will now be able to reopen but by appointment only, Murphy said. He said the decision wasn’t his but came from guidance from the White House.

Toll hike public meeting

The New Jersey agency that operates the Atlantic City Expressway will hold meetings on Wednesday and Thursday to consider toll increases, but the forums will be livestreamed because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement, the South Jersey Transportation Authority said two meetings planned for Wednesday and a third on Thursday would move from in-person to online at

The toll hikes are for capital projects and would be financed by average toll increases of 57 cents at most. The authority is also considering automatic toll increases of at most 3% annually beginning in 2022.

The toll money would be used for capital projects, including roadway resurfacing and changes to lighting, according to the public notice about the meeting.

A trip on the expressway from Camden County in suburban Philadelphia to Atlantic City currently costs $3.75.

The proposed toll increase come just weeks after the New Jersey Turnpike Authority held similar meetings, which were livestreamed so the public could watch, to consider toll increases. The turnpike authority wants to raise tolls by up to 36% on the turnpike and up to 27% on the Garden State Parkway.

Ventilators coming

Murphy, a Democrat, said in a tweet that 300 ventilators are on their way to New Jersey from the national stockpile.

Murphy said he spoke with the White House about the need for the equipment in multiple conversations. He said they are the state’s No. 1 need.

He has said the state needs 2,300 ventilators from the federal government.

Boardwalk closing

Belmar officials decided Monday to close the beach’s boardwalk, one of the most heavily trafficked spots at the Jersey Shore in recent weeks.

The borough will still allow people to use the beach, but police will monitor them to ensure they observe social distancing.

Belmar’s boardwalk is one of the more narrow oceanfront walkways at the shore and has been drawing heavy crowds recently, particularly as other shore towns closed their own boardwalks.

Liquor store reopens

A liquor store that was inundated with residents of Pennsylvania, where the state has closed the wine and hard-alcohol shops it runs, has reopened, the store’s manager told

Johnny Canal said he decided to close the Pennsauken store last week after it was swamped by residents from Pennsylvania over concerns that customers were not adhering to social-distancing precautions.

The store reopened after it updated a sign outside saying that “Social Distancing Saves Lives,” and employees directed customers where to stand in line.

Ocean City rentals

In Ocean City, Mayor Jay Gillian said he has spoken with leaders of the resort’s real estate community, who agreed to halt all short-term rentals.

He asked private property owners to do likewise, citing an executive order by governor prohibiting online marketplaces from offering rentals during the virus outbreak.

In a message to residents issued Sunday night, Gillian said: “Although Ocean City ordinarily welcomes all visitors, at this time we must take all available steps to enforce social distancing recommendations and limit nonessential travel to Ocean City.”

The Associated Press

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