Gov. Phil Murphy raised indoor capacities for the second time in five weeks as key coronavirus health metrics continue to improve.
Effective March 19 at 6 a.m., New Jersey restaurants and bars, recreational and amusement businesses, gyms and fitness clubs and personal care businesses can operate at 50% indoor capacity.
On the same day, indoor gatherings will rise to 25 individuals from its current 10 person limit; outdoor gatherings will be capped at 50 individuals, up from 25. The capacity limits do not apply to religious services or ceremonies, political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services or performances as they were raised on Feb. 22 to 50% capacity of the room in which they are held, with no cap on the number of individuals permitted to attend.
Confident in Decision
“We feel confident in the steps announced today given the data we’ve been seeing over the past five weeks,” said Murphy at a press briefing March 10. “While the numbers of new cases we report daily can fluctuate, and some days can be high, we believe that, when all factors are weighed, we can make this expansion without leading to undue further stress on our healthcare system.”
The move comes as the governor continues to ease restrictions as hospitalizations, rate of infection, and new coronavirus cases continue to decline from its highest points as well as as more residents in New Jersey are vaccinated. The governor noted on Feb. 5, when the last capacity limits were increased, hospitals were treating nearly 2,900 patients. That number has been under 2,000 for 12 straight days.
As the Winter surge has passed, state officials have started to ease restrictions. On Feb. 5, the executive order increasing indoor capacity limits to 35% from 25% and allowing restaurants to stay open past 10 p.m. went into effect. Fans were allowed in to high school, college and professional gyms during February.
Indoor dining was closed from the beginning of the pandemic until September 2020. The allowing of indoor dining was delayed when just days before they were scheduled to open July 4th weekend, Murphy reversed his decision. Restaurants were able to open for indoor dining beginning Sept. 4 at 25% capacity among other regulations tailored to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
Bar Areas Still Closed
The governor reiterated that customers are still not allowed to sit at indoor bar areas, noting in the past it creates the danger of close and prolonged proximity between patrons, bartenders, and servers that allows for the spread of the coronavirus.
Murphy made a point to note unlike Texas and Mississippi, where governors are “prioritizing politics over public health,” the New Jersey mask mandate and other health protocols remain in effect and will be enforced.
“We will continue to move deliberately, responsibly, and incrementally, guided by public health data,” said Murphy. “Texas and Mississippi opened all at once last summer, and we all saw the resulting surges in cases and hospitalizations, while our numbers stayed low.”
As of March 10, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 729,403 with 3,047 total new PCR cases reported. There were 948 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 93,414. The total number of individual cases for the state is 822,817. Gov. Murphy previously noted there is some unknown overlap due to health officials urging those taking a rapid test to get a PCR test.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 56 new deaths, bringing that total to 21,294. The state listed probable deaths at 2,474, bringing the overall total to 23,768. State officials noted 17 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on March 10, Bergen had a total of 301 new confirmed cases and 117 probable cases, Essex 302 new cases and 57 probable cases, Hudson 244 new cases and 76 probable cases, Morris 188 new cases and 64 probable cases, Passaic 203 new cases and 67 probable cases, Sussex 35 new cases and 16 probable cases, and Warren 30 cases and two new probable cases.
State officials have identified a total of 146 coronavirus variant cases in 20 counties in New Jersey, including the first case of the South African variant. In North Jersey, there are 15 cases in Hudson, nine in Essex County, seven in Morris County, four in Passaic, three in Bergen, two in Warren and one in Sussex.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,440, followed by Bergen at 2,369, Hudson with 1,854, Passaic at 1,541, Morris at 912, Sussex at 211 and Warren County at 198.
In regards to probable deaths reported March 10, Bergen has 284, Essex has 287, Morris has 232, Hudson has 193, Passaic has 183, Sussex has 65 and Warren has 25.
As for the rate of transmission, it declined to 1.04 from 1.05 for the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of March 6, was 10.6%; by region, the rate was 11.2% in the North, 10.8% in the Central region and 8.3% in the South.
Officials reported 1,961 patients were hospitalized; 1,823 cases were confirmed and 138 are under investigation. By region, there were 1,013 in the North, 573 in the Central and 375 in the South.
Of those hospitalized, 408 are in intensive care units and 235 on ventilators. A total of 227 patients were discharged, while 244 were admitted.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospilizations, intensive care units, ventilators and positivity rate as health data they rely on to track how the coronavirus is being contained in New Jersey, guiding them in determining when restrictions have to be tightened or lifted.
Bergen Tops County Count
Bergen has the most confirmed cumulative cases in the state with 72,142, followed by Middlesex at 70,096, Essex at 69,973, Hudson at 66,152, Ocean at 54,287, Monmouth at 54,327, Passaic at 53,840, Union at 50,711, Camden at 40,430, Morris at 33,741, Burlington at 31,871, Mercer at 26,957, Gloucester at 21,699, Atlantic at 20,403, Somerset at 19,517, Cumberland at 12,461, Sussex at 8,348, Warren at 6,676, Hunterdon at 6,624, Salem at 4,336, and Cape May at 3,816.
In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 9,393, followed by Union at 8,225, Ocean at 7,289, Essex at 6,667, Hudson at 6,148, Monmouth at 5,902, Morris at 5,834, Middlesex at 5,365, Atlantic at 5,312, Passaic at 5,147, Camden at 4,933, Burlington at 4,713, Somerset at 4,388, Cape May at 3,816, Gloucester at 3,189, Cumberland at 2,167, Mercer at 1,728, Sussex at 1,312, Warren at 749, Hunterdon at 651 and Salem 461.
Another 996 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.
In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 160 outbreaks involving 765 cases, with 13 new outbreaks accounting for 39 cases reported in the weekly update on March 10.
For North Jersey, Bergen County has 38 confirmed outbreaks with 157 cases, Passaic County has eight confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Sussex has eight confirmed outbreaks with 21 cases, Warren has eight confirmed outbreaks with 20 cases, Morris County has four confirmed outbreaks with 32 cases, Hudson County has four confirmed outbreaks with 16 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 273 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 10,790 of the cases, broken down between 5,275 residents and 5,515 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,281 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,368 residents and 21,187 staff, for a total of 53,555 cases.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 7,939 on March 10. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,835 residents deaths and 143 staff deaths.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 2,671,480 as of March 10. Of those who have received the vaccine, 1,772,167 residents have received their first dose with 899,234 their second; 52% have been administered the Moderna vaccine, 47% the Pfizer vaccine and 1% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Demographically, 58% of those vaccinated are women and 42% men. As for ethnicity, 58% are White, 13% unknown, 12% other, 7% Asian, 6% Hispanic and 4% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 42% are 65 years old or olders, 27% are between the ages of 50-64, 23% are between the ages of 40-49, and 7% are between the ages of 18-29.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 306,748 doses, Essex 210,840 doses, Morris 196,265 doses, Hudson 128,263 doses, Passaic 119,116 doses, Sussex 42,799 doses, and Warren 26,966 doses.