As New Jersey’s rate of COVID-19 transmission continues to climb, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state is tightening the cap on indoor gatherings and will continue to hold off on allowing restaurants to offer dining service inside.
During his Aug. 3 media briefing, the governor reported that the rate “is now more than double where it was a few weeks ago,” and urged residents to “get it together – and fast.”
As of Aug. 3, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 182,614 with 264 new cases. Statewide, 10 new deaths were reported. Of the total death count, 13,971 are confirmed COVID-19 fatalities and 1,875 are reported as probable.
New Jersey’s transmission rate – which measures the rate each new case leads to how many additional cases – rose to 1.48%, which is higher than it was when the state was at its peak of the pandemic in April.
“Until we begin to see the number of cases decrease – not just for one day, but over at least a 7-day trend – and our rate of transmission drop appreciably over a sustained period of time, these new restrictions on indoor gatherings will remain in place,” he said.
On July 31, the governor warned he may walk back some reopening measures if the upward trend continued, saying that the state is “standing in a very dangerous place.” The following day, he extended New Jersey’s State of Emergency declaration for another 30 days.
Indoor Capacities Revised
Until further notice, indoor gatherings are now limited to 25% of a room’s capacity, with a maximum of 25 persons, down from 100, Murphy announced.
“We know that there are many more of you who’ve been responsible in your actions and who’ve taken your civic duties to help us defeat COVID-19 seriously. Unfortunately, the actions of a few knuckleheads leave us no other course,” he said.
Weddings, funerals, memorial services and religious and political activities protected under the First Amendment may continue under the current rules – limited to 25% of a room’s capacity, but with a maximum of 100 persons.
Outdoor gatherings remain capped at 500 people.
Following report of restaurants allowing patrons to dine inside by open windows, Murphy is reminding business owners of the current outdoor-only rule.
According to New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan, police responded to two restaurants over the weekend where indoor service was offered and people were inside, with no masks and not social distancing. One of the establishments had a self-service buffet available, too, he said.
Murphy said, “To be clear: Unless your restaurant has open sides that amount to AT least two of your four outer walls, you cannot seat and serve diners inside your premises. You can only serve diners outdoors.”
“It all comes down to this: The only way we can get to where we want to be with indoor activities is if everyone plays by the rules and no one tries to make end-runs around them. This is not a game. This is about public health and safety,” he said.
New Jersey’s rate of transmission (1.48%) has nearly doubled in the six weeks since the state moved to Stage 2 of its reopening.
During the strictest period of New Jersey’s lockdown, the rate of transmission fellow below 1% for weeks.
Murphy called it a “meaningful” jump, saying officials believe “some of this increase is attributable to indoor house parties we’ve been seeing across the state.” He specifically mentioned a party in Middletown that led to 60 cases reported in teenagers and a gathering on Long Beach Island that infected more than three dozen lifeguards.
New Jersey’s positivity rate for tests from July 30 is 1.88% and daily infection rate is 2%, two other data sets officials say they are using to track whether the outbreak is being contained and to guide if restrictions should be tightened or eased.
Murphy did not comment on whether New Jersey is on the cusp of another round of shutdowns, but said he believed limiting the size of indoor gatherings was “a pretty meaningful step.”
“We’ll sit with that for the time being and monitor it,” he said.
In North Jersey, Essex County has the most total confirmed deaths (1,861), followed by Bergen at 1,786, Hudson with 1,334, Passaic at 1,334, Morris at 679, Sussex at 158 and Warren with 157.
In regards to probable deaths, Bergen has 255, Essex has 243, Hudson has 169, both Passaic and Morris at 151, Sussex has 37 and Warren has 14.
Bergen Tops County Case Count
Bergen has the most cumulative cases in the state with 20,521, followed by Essex at 19,526, Hudson at 19,511, Middlesex at 17,713, Passaic at 17,493, Union at 16,575, Ocean at 10,459, Monmouth at 10,117, Camden at 8,357, Mercer at 8,042, Morris at 7,156, Burlington at 5,831, Somerset at 5,190, Atlantic at 3,393, Cumberland at 3,240, Gloucester at 3,097, Warren at 1,330, Sussex at 1,307, Hunterdon at 1,137, Salem at 871 and Cape May at 810.
Another 646 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
Officials reported 738 patients are hospitalized, as of Aug. 3. The north tier had 294 patients hospitalized, the central 258 and the south 186.
Of those hospitalized, 144 are in intensive care units and 49 on ventilators, while 40 patients were discharged.
The racial breakdown of COVID-19 deaths was 53.30% White, 19.40% Hispanic, 18.50% Black, 5.40% Asian and 3.40% another race, according to state data.
In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed: 57.3% had cardiovascular disease, 44.4% diabetes, 32.4% other chronic diseases, 18.1% neurological conditions, 14.6% chronic renal disease, 9.8% cancer and 17.3% chronic lung disease.
A census of ages for confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 32.50% in the range of 65-80, 15.90% between 50-65, 4.30% under the age of 49 and .40% for the 18 to 29 range.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted currently 288 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 24,790 of the cases, broken down between 13,197 residents and 7,114staff.
Cumulatively, 610 long-term care facilities reported cases infecting 24,790 residents and 12,950 staff, for a total of 37,740.
Of the total death count tied to long-term care facilities, 6,732 were residents and 121 were staff members.