Gov. Phil Murphy has decided to mandate face coverings outdoors in New Jersey.
Murphy at his press briefing on July 8 said masks are to be worn in outdoor public spaces when social distancing is not practicable. Exceptions are being made for children two years old or younger, while eating and drinking at outdoor dining establishments and when wearing a mask would inhibit health or safety.
The move is being made as an important health metric the Murphy Administration continued to rise. The rate of transmission was 1.10 July 8, up from 1.03 on July 6 and 0.70 in mid-June when the state began to reopen in Phase 2.
“Requiring masks outdoors is a step I had hoped we would not have to take. By and large, New Jerseyans have been outstanding in their compliance,” said Murphy. “But, unfortunately, we’ve been seeing a backslide in compliance in New Jersey and across our nation.”
Tool to Beat COVID-19
Murphy emphasized face masks—along with washing your hands, social distancing, self quartining after being in a coronavirus hotspot and getting tested—are the only ways to contain the coronavirus.
“There is no vaccine for COVID-19. There is no cure. There is no proven therapeutic,” stated Murphy.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli noted studies have shown face masks dramatically decrease the release of droplets from people’s mouths, serving as an important barrier in transmitting the virus.
Difficult to Enforce
The first-term Democratic governor conceded enforcement will be more difficult and did not specify what the penalty would be for violators. He said the requirement does not apply to people who are in their family bubble or backyard gatherings, but should be worn while waiting on lines for food or taking a walk on the boardwalk.
Murphy had signaled the move earlier in the week after the rate of transmission went above 1.0 for the first time since May. He indicated two factors in the rise were from the state reopening and infection rates increasing nationwide.
According to the governor, covering should be part of a nationwide policy as well. He expressed his concern with developments in states like Arizona, South Carolina and Florida who are visiting New Jersey as well as residents coming back to New Jersey from hot spots in the nation.
Public Health Issue
“We really need some national parameters that everybody sticks to,” said Murphy. “In every state, no matter where you are in the nation, we expect the following parameters to be adhered to.”
The governor framed the new mandate as being a public health issue, not a political one as the virus does not care if you are a Republician or Democtaic.
Wearing a mask is “about being sick or healthy. It’s about life and death. It’s about showing others that you care about their health. It’s about showing your community what side you’re on in the fight against COVID-19,” said Murphy.
As of July 8, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 174,039 with 335 new cases and 53 new deaths, bringing that total to 13,476. The state increased the probable death count to 1,947, bringing the overall total to 15,423.
Persichilli noted that the number of new deaths are those that they were able to confirm, some going back to March. The actual number of people who passed away from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours was five.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,805, followed by Bergen at 1,749, Hudson with 1,295, Passaic at 1,057, Morris at 663, Sussex at 157 and Warren with 153.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 261, Essex has 241, Hudson has 167, Passaic and Morris both have 147, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 11.
The daily rate of infections from those tested as of July 4 was reported at 3.2%. Officials believe the rate, up from 2.1% on July 2, is a result of limited testing on the holiday. 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 3.4%, the central at 2.9% and the south 3.3%.
Officials reported 935 patients are hospitalized with or are under investigation for having coronavirus while 70 patients were discharged. The north tier had 405 patients hospitalized, the central 291 and the south 239.
Of those hospitalized, 175 are in intensive care units and 142 on ventilators.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 19,732, followed by Hudson at 19,024, Essex at 18,920, Passaic at 16,978, Middlesex at 16,956, Union at 16,443, Ocean at 9,753, Monmouth at 9,362, Mercer at 7,751, Camden at 7,573, Morris at 6,854, Burlington at 5,306, Somerset at 4,950, Cumberland at 3,030, Atlantic at 2,962, Gloucester at 2,691, Warren at 1,262, Sussex at 1,219, Hunterdon at 1,091, Salem at 808 and Cape May at 718.
Another 656 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. 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 July 8, leaving the total at 51 for children ranging in age from 1-18. All have tested positive for COVID-19 or have antibodies in their blood. Nine 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 39% Hispanic, 34% Black, 16% White, 7% Asian and 5% 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 36,754 of the cases, broken down between 24,320 residents and 12,434 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 6,631 on July 8. The facilities are reporting to the state 6,588 residents deaths and 119 staff deaths.
In a by-county breakdown:
- 62 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 3309 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 1745 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 928 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 11 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 46 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 2204 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 1064 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 569 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 20 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 42 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1441 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 731 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 489 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 3 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 25 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1298 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 760 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 390 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 15 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 15 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 1008 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 572 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 253 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 8 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 7 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 260 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 151 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 109 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 4 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 7 Facilities with Outbreaks
- 409 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 135 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities
- 122 Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
- 1 Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities