Gov. Phil Murphy pressed the pause button on indoor dining before it even started.
New Jersey’s governor announced at his daily briefing on June 29 that indoor dining, including wedding venues and banquet halls, scheduled to open on July 2 will be postponed indefinitely, citing health data from New Jersey as well as other states that he worried would cause a spike in coronavirus cases.
“After seeing COVID-19 spikes in other states driven by, in part, the return of indoor dining, we have decided to postpone indoor dining indefinitely,” said Murphy. “We’ve always said that we would not hesitate to hit pause if needed to safeguard public health. This is one of those times.”
Additionally, Murphy fumed at the behavior of state residents over the weekend at overcrowded outdoor bars seen on social media and in newspapers, noting the images played a significant role for him in forcing the delay.
“We’re also moved to pause indoor dining because of what we’ve seen in some establishments across the state,” said Murphy. “A complete disregard for social distancing. Very few, if any, face coverings.”
Murphy said he held back from naming names, but that would not last much longer.
Compliance Not A Suggestion
“The carelessness of one establishment can completely undo the good work of many others,” he stated. “We will not tolerate outlier bars and restaurants—and, frankly, patrons —who think the rules don’t apply to them. They are the ones who ruin it for everyone else. Compliance isn’t a polite suggestion—it is required.”
The governor said national trends where states that opened indoor dining earlier quicker than New Jersey and are now seeing a spike that is overwhelming state hospitals systems, like Texas and Florida, played a role as well
“Given the current situation in numerous other states, we do not believe it is prudent at this time to push forward with what is, in effect, a sedentary indoor activity—especially when we know that this virus moves differently indoors than out, making it even more deadly,” Murphy said.
The first-term Democratic governor understood that the delay could be a death knell for some businesses but said he had to look at the bigger picture with health of residents being the priority.
“So, unfortunately, the national situation, compounded by instances of knucklehead behavior here at home, are requiring us to hit pause on the restart of indoor dining for the foreseeable future,” said Murphy.
Reopenings Moves Forward
The reversal on indoor dining comes only days after the state released guidelines for the restaurants, which capped capacity at 25%, social distancing rules and face coverings for employees among other rules.
The news came on the day that indoor malls are able to reopen. July 2 will still see the resumption of casinos, libraries, museums, aquariums, race tracks, playgrounds and limited workouts at gyms with capacity limits mandated.
The governor noted those openings would go forward due to them either having the characteristics of being outside or indoor locations that allow for movement and the ability to have a face covering on at all times.
As of June 29, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 171,272 with 156 new cases and 18 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,138. The state is reporting an additional 1,854 deaths as probably, bringing the overall total to 14,992.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,784, followed by Bergen at 1,722, Hudson with 1,278, Passaic at 1,035, Morris at 650, Sussex at 155 and Warren with 144.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 263, Essex has 237, Hudson has 171, Passaic has 148, Morris has 146, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 11.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of June 25 registered at 1.9%. 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 1.5%, the central at 2.0% and the south 3.5%.
The rate of transmission was reported at 0.86. Murphy has noted that while the rate was still below 1.0, he was concerned it has rose from the 0.70 rate the state recorded at the beginning of the Phase 2 reopening.
Officials reported 978 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus—which included 45 new hospitalizations—while 70 patients were discharged. The north tier had 454 patients hospitalized, the central 270 and the south 254.
The daily discharge and new hospitalizations by tier for June 29 was the north charting 18 hospitalizations and 34 discharges, the central having 14 hospitalizations and 22 discharges, and the south reporting 13 hospitalizations and 14 discharges.
Of those hospitalized, 225 are in intensive care units and 185 on ventilators.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 19,375, followed by Hudson at 18,838, Essex at 18,731, Passaic at 16,876, Middlesex at 16,764, Union at 16,377, Ocean at 9,575, Monmouth at 9,110, Mercer at 7,634, Camden at 7,297, Morris at 6,735, Burlington at 5,142, Somerset at 4,858, Cumberland at 2,946, Atlantic at 2,845, Gloucester at 2,563, Warren at 1,230, Sussex at 1,190, Hunterdon at 1,076, Salem at 762 and Cape May at 712.
Another 636 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
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. Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli has stated most cases have multiple underlying conditions which would push the percentage of 100%.
A census of ages for 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 5% 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 29, leaving the total at 47 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Five 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, 18% 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 36,324 of the cases, broken down between 24,102 residents and 12,222 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 6,389 on June 29. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,497 residents deaths and 117 staff deaths.
In a by-county breakdown:
- 63 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 3275 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 1732 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 923 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 11 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 46 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 2192 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 1047 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 568 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 20 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 42 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1415 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 709 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 476 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 3 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 25 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1279 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 767 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 384 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 15 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 15 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1003 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 560 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 249 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 8 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 7 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 259 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 148 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
- 7 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 408 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 135 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 119 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 1 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities