Indoor Dining, Casinos to Open July 2 in New Jersey; Gathering Limits Increased Immediately

In what he stated will be the first of many this week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced restaurants, racetracks and casinos will open their doors to patrons in time for the 4th of July holiday.

Murphy revealed at his daily brief June 22 that indoor dining and gambling palaces in New Jersey closed due to the COVID-19 crisis will be allowed to open to customers but at 25% capacity starting July 2. 

Racetracks can take bets in-person at their sportsbooks and lounges, as long as they follow gathering limits.

The first-term Democratic governor said specific guidance from the state’s Department of Health would be released in the coming days. 

Gather Limits Increased

In an immediate move, the state increased outdoor gatherings to 250 from 100 persons maximum with outdoor religious and political activities allowed to exceed those limits. 

Additionally, indoor gatherings, including banquet halls, are now limited to 25% of capacity with a cap of 100 people.

“We are currently in the middle of Phase 2,” said Murphy. “If we continue to be smart, we’ll soon be able to set the date for our entry into Stage 3 of our restart.”

Warning Issued

The governor cited current rates of spread of COVID-19, daily percentage of positive test results and realities within the healthcare systems and hospitals in allowing for the state to continue to reopen.

State officials raised concerns of viral videos—“letting down their hair too much” according to Murphy—of young people not practicing social distancing and wearing face coverings that health officials credit with containing the coronavirus in New Jersey. 

“Folks should know that we can’t look the other way on this,” Murphy said. “This stuff is out of bounds. Too many viral videos for my taste.”

“The pandemic is not over and the virus is still spreading,” added Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. 

Stop Openings?

Murphy stated if residents behavior spikes the data like it has in other states, he will roll back any open plans.

“If the current trends in our health metrics change between now and next Thursday, we will hit pause on the current plan,” declared Murphy. “That’s the last thing I want to do.” 

Murphy warned the policies for casinos to open in Atlantic City will be strictly enforced.

Knucklehead Warning

“If any visitor refuses to comply with our simple safeguards, they’ll be escorted out,” said Murphy. “We’re not going to tolerate any knuckleheads trying to ruin it for those who wish to enjoy themselves responsibly.”

The opening dates continued the controlled pace of opening that Murphy has advocated. On June 15, outdoor dining and non-essential retail were able to begin operations. On June 22, personal care businesses, community pools and organized sports resumed operations. 

Additionally, on June 29, indoor malls are set to open. The resumptions have all come with requirements to slow the spread of COVID-19, including capacity limitations and mandatory face coverings the most prominent. 

Daily Data

As of June 22, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 169,415 with 359 new cases and 27 new deaths, bringing that total to 12,895. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,761, followed by Bergen at 1,701, Hudson with 1,266, Passaic at 1,015, Morris at 643, Sussex at 152 and Warren with 142.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of June 18 registered at 2.4%. The state is no longer using serology tests as health officials explained those results show a past presence of the disease as well as a current one. By region, the north tested at 1.6%, the central at 1.9% and the south 5.4%. The rate of transmission was 0.76. 

Officials reported 1,029 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 46 new hospitalizations—while 70 patients were discharged. The north tier had 435 patients hospitalized, the central 331 and the south 267.

The daily discharge and new hospitalizations by tier for June 22 was the north charting 20 hospitalizations and 33 discharges, the central having eight hospitalizations and 20 discharges, and the south reporting 18 hospitalizations and 17 discharges.   

Of those hospitalized, 287 are in intensive care units and 213 on ventilators. There are currently 15 patients in field hospitals, with 491 treated overall. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 19,037, followed by Hudson at 18,755, Essex at 18,578, Passaic at 16,772, Middlesex at 16,618, Union at 16,340, Ocean at 9,440, Monmouth at 8,965, Mercer at 7,549, Camden at 7,153, Morris at 6,718, Burlington at 5,046, Somerset at 4,819, Cumberland at 2,876, Atlantic at 2,722, Gloucester at 2,471, Warren at 1,218, Sussex at 1,178, Hunterdon at 1,060, Salem at 752 and Cape May at 692.

Another 656 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 54% White, 20% Hispanic, 18% Black, 6% Asian and 2% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state. 

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 56% had cardiovascular disease, 45% diabetes, 31% other chronic diseases, 18% neurological conditions, 17% lung diseases, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.

A census of ages for 9,941 confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 4% under the age of 49. 

State officials are tracking cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children who in turn  test positive for COVID-19. One new case was reported June 22, with the total reaching 44 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Six are currently hospitalized. No deaths have been reported from the disease. 

Persichilli stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, Persichilli reported the racial breakdown in New Jersey was 36% Hispanic, 33% Black, 19% White, 8% Asian and 3% other.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 556 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 35,954 of the cases, 40 new, broken down between 23,801 residents and 12,153 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, rising by 16 to 6,198 on June 22. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,404 residents deaths and 117 staff deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown:  

Bergen County

  • 63  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 3260 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1709 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 915  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 11  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Essex County

  • 46  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 2170 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1021 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 567  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 20  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Morris County

  • 42  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1406 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 701 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 468  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 3  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Passaic County

  • 25  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1269 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 754 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 378  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 15  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Hudson County 

  • 15  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 998 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 542 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 248  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 8  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Sussex County

  • 7  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 259 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 147 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 107  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 4  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Warren County 

  • 7  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 408 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 135 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 117  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 1  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

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