TRENTON — Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday ordered flags across the state to half-staff indefinitely to commemorate people who died from COVID-19.

The death toll climbed to about 650 people up from more than 500, with nearly 30,000 positive cases, up from about 25,000 on Thursday, the first-term governor said.

“This is a way, a small way but I think an important way, that we can make sure their loss is not forgotten," Murphy said during a daily news conference on the outbreak.

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.

PRIMARY DATE CHANGE?

New Jersey's June 2 primary seems likely to change. Murphy said Friday he'd be “stunned” if the date doesn't move later, but no final decision has been made.

The Democratic National Committee has pushed its convention from mid-July to Aug. 17.

RELIGIOUS HOLIDAYS

Residents preparing to celebrate holidays in the coming week should not get together with family and friends, Murphy said.

Christians are preparing to celebrate Holy Week beginning Sunday and leading up to Easter a week later. Jews mark Passover on Wednesday.

Residents have been ordered to stay home since March 21 to help stop the spread of the virus.

“We're going to have to be especially vigilant,” Murphy said.

In the absence of a vaccine, the governor said, social distancing amounts to the No. 1 tool residents have to stop the spread of the virus.

MORE TESTING CENTERS

Cumberland County in southern New Jersey is opening its first drive-thru testing center, the governor said.

A number of other counties, including northern New Jersey counties that have seen the most cases, also have testing facilities. All the county centers are for county residents only and require people to be exhibiting symptoms.

COMMANDEERING SUPPLIES

State Police can now commandeer health supplies to address the COVID-19 outbreak under an executive order issued by Murphy.

Murphy signed the order Thursday, saying he hopes the state will not have to use the power it authorized. Companies have been voluntarily donating medical equipment, and the first-term Democrat said he's hopeful companies and people will continue doing the right thing.

The order complements an earlier executive order requiring all businesses to submit an inventory of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, ventilators and anesthesia machines, Murphy said. New Jersey is a hot spot for the virus, with more than 500 deaths and over 25,000 positive cases.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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