Cops bust a packed ‘Corona Party’ — Murphy urges ‘social solidarity’
EWING — Township police busted a Friday night shindig that packed more than 40 people into a small apartment for what the organizer billed as a "Corona Party."
The Concord Avenue tenant, Wade E. Jackson, 54, became the latest "knucklehead" — as Gov. Phil Murphy has taken to calling them — to be named and shamed by authorities on charges of violating the governor's stay-at-home order amid a deadly pandemic.
Jackson was charged with obstruction and violating an emergency law. He was given a court summons.
The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said 47 people, including a DJ, were packed into a 550-square-foot one-bedroom apartment.
Police were called on a noise complaint. They said they saw music speakers, alcohol and smelled marijuana.
The revelers were not charged with any crimes or violations, a decision that prosecutors praised.
"The goal was to break up the party and send everyone home," Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said. "Based on safety and resources, police made the right call to only issue citations to the host."
Mercer County on Saturday had 158 known cases of COVID-19.
Murphy has closed all non-essential businesses and schools and has prohibited gatherings of any size in order to slow the spread of the highly infections novel coronavirus, which can cause a serious respiratory disease known as COVID-19 in some people.
Sick people have been overwhelming hospitals in North Jersey and government and health officials have been working for weeks to build four field hospitals, reopen shuttered hospitals and stockpile enough personal protective equipment and medical supplies for healthcare workers.
On Saturday, the state reported 2,289 additional COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths for a total of 11,124 cases and 140 deaths since the first week of March.
During his Saturday news briefing, Murphy cited a recent homily by the Rev. James J. Greenfiled, the president of DeSales University, urging his congregation to think of social distancing as "social solidarity."
Murphy said that while staying away from friends and family might be difficult, "doing so right now is critically important for us to break the back of that curve and to flatten it and to emerge from this emergency stronger than ever before."
The "curve" refers to a projection of hospital cases that would overwhelm the healthcare system and leave many people unable to get critical care. Officials on Friday said that they expect a surge of patients in a matter of weeks.
"We are all in this together as one New Jersey family. We may be literally apart right now but in many respects we are closer to each other than ever before with one big, challenging, common enemy," Murphy said. "We are united in our fight. We are pulling our family and ourselves through this together. And that, in every respect, is social solidarity."