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New Jersey Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Steinhardt wants timeline on Murphy’s virus exposure

Two senior administration staffers test positive for COVID-19

By Nikita Biryukov, October 21 2020 7:33 pm

The New Jersey Republican State Committee wants to know how Gov. Phil Murphy was exposed to COVID-19, demanding on Wednesday a timeline to the events preceding the governor’s virus exposure.

Murphy left midway through an early afternoon outdoor event at Camden County College in Blackwood after announcing he had been come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus on Saturday.

“I was just informed by my colleagues that I was in close proximity to someone on Saturday who has just tested positive,” Murphy said.

In the time since, the front office has announced positive tests from two senior administration staffers — Mike Delamater, deputy chief of staff for intergovernmental affairs, and Dan Bryan, senior advisor to the governor for strategic communications.

Delamater frequently accompanies the governor on matters involving local or federal elected officials. He was not present at Wednesday’s press conference. Bryan, who was in Blackwood, informed the governor of his exposure roughly 25 minutes after event began and was tested afterwards out of caution, the front office said.

The governor and First Lady Tammy Murphy returned negative tests Wednesday afternoon and are quarantining until at least Monday. A routine test Murphy took Monday also returned a negative result.

Steinhardt wants details about Saturday’s exposure, including whether masks were worn and whether the it happened indoors, and a timeline of events preceding the Blackwood announcement.

“If the Governor or his staff knew before the event that one or more of their colleagues was undergoing a test for Covid-19 and went to today’s event anyway, how is that different from what Governor Murphy criticized President Trump for?” the Republican chairman said after wishing the Murphy and his staff well.

Trump drew condemnation for attending a fundraiser that included some indoor proceedings at his golf club in Bedminster after Senior Counselor Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus. The president and most attendees did not wear masks.

Steinhardt also wants to know whether the administration intends to publicly release contact tracing results

“As cases spike in New Jersey, Governor Murphy hasn’t detailed any plans for containing the virus,” Steinhardt said. “He has constantly chided our citizens for being careless, and now that he’s been exposed, owes it to New Jersey to be more open and honest about his exposure as he’s been about his response to the pandemic.”

Former Gov. Richard J. Codey castigated Steinhardt for his comments.

“The Republican chairman is a gentlemen and honorable person, but these comment are beyond the pale,” said Codey (D-Roseland), a Democratic state senator.  “There is no way he would go to an event if he thought he was exposed.  Never in a million years.  There’s no reason to say that.  He’s doesn’t act like Donald Trump.”

This story was updated at 10:16 AM on October 22 with comment from Codey.

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