Gov. Phil Murphy Raises Concerns About Social Distancing Adherence; Amusement Parks to Reopen July 2

With a special emphasis on younger residents, state officials drove home the message that protocols put in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus must be maintained even as New Jersey continues to reopen. 

Despite the concerns, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at the daily press briefing June 23 new Phase 2 reopening dates. Outdoor amusement parks, water parks, boardwalk rides and playgrounds can be filled with children again starting July 2. 

As has become the norm, the parks will open with social distancing requirements to help contain the spread of COVID-19—including capacity limits of 50% and requirements of staff to wear face coverings and gloves. 

Data Upticks

But even while moving forward with plans to reopen, Murphy raised concerns that some of the key health data giving state officials the confidence to reopen New Jersey have begun to tick up, such as the rate of transmission. 

“We cannot have a one-day increase in our health metrics turn into a trend because people gave up on social distancing,” said the governor. “We are seeing the rate of transmission beginning to creep back up in too many counties. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to become complacent in social distancing.”

The first-term Democratic governor, who the previous day expressed displeasure with viral videos young people disregarding protocols put in place, took aim at the businesses who are supposed to uphold the guidelines in place.

Warnings to Businesses

“If we see businesses refuse to comply with the common sense and live-saving guidance we have put in place, we will have no choice but to begin making examples out of them,” said Murphy.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted the number of people between 18-29 years old who tested positive for COVID increased 10 percentage points to 22% in June from May. 

“People of any age can get severe illness from COVID-19,” Persichilli “We are still concerned about this trend.”

Social Distancing

Murphy reiterated that the only true way to currently battle the pandemic is by social distancing. 

“Social distancing is the only thing that has allowed us to crush the curves over the past three months and what has allowed us to catch up to a virus that has no vaccine and no proven therapeutic,” said Murphy. 

“I know many people think that just because the weather is hot, they can’t catch the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. I know many young people think this virus isn’t after them. In every case, you are wrong.”

Knucklehead Behavior

Murphy acknowledged that residents want to get back outside after living inside for over three months, but pleaded for people to use their common sense.

“Everyone has a role to play. Don’t be the knucklehead who thinks you’re immune or can’t pass along the coronavirus.” he stated. “We cannot undo this progress.”

Daily Data

As of June 23, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 169,734 with 382 new cases and 57 new deaths, bringing that total to 12,949. 

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,765, followed by Bergen at 1,706, Hudson with 1,268, Passaic at 1,019, Morris at 642, Sussex at 153 and Warren with 144.

State Testing 

The daily rate of infections from those tested as of June 19 registered at 2.0%. 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 1.3%, the central at 2.1% and the south 3.7%. The rate of transmission was 0.81. 

Officials reported 1,092 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 50 new hospitalizations—while 48 patients were discharged. The north tier had 476 patients hospitalized, the central 316 and the south 300.

The daily discharge and new hospitalizations by tier for June 23 was the north charting 20 hospitalizations and 23 discharges, the central having 16 hospitalizations and 10 discharges, and the south reporting 14 hospitalizations and 15 discharges.   

Of those hospitalized, 307 are in intensive care units and 216 on ventilators. 

Bergen Tops County Count

Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 19,069, followed by Hudson at 18,773, Essex at 18,592, Passaic at 16,794, Middlesex at 16,640, Union at 16,341, Ocean at 9,466, Monmouth at 8,998, Mercer at 7,560, Camden at 7,163, Morris at 6,727, Burlington at 5,056, Somerset at 4,818, Cumberland at 2,894, Atlantic at 2,750, Gloucester at 2,489, Warren at 1,221, Sussex at 1,178, Hunterdon at 1,062, Salem at 752 and Cape May at 694.

Another 697 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. No new cases were reported June 23, with the total remaining at 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 has stated “Black and Hispanic children account for a disproportionately high number” on a national scale. While only a small sample, 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 557 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 36,000 of the cases, 46 new, broken down between 23,823 residents and 12,177 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, rising by 50 to 6,248 on June 22. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,422 residents deaths and 117 staff deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown:  

Bergen County

  • 63  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 3264 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1712 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
  • 2171 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1023 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
  • 1409 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 702 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 471  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 3  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Passaic County

  • 25  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1272 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 757 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 381  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 15  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Hudson County 

  • 15  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 999 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 548 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 
  • 108  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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