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New Jersey Eases Restrictions for Indoor, Outdoor Gatherings Effective May 10

Gov. Phil Murphy increased the limits in New Jersey on capacity limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings needed to contain the spread of the coronavirus effective May 10. 

“We are doing this both because we are expecting the downward trend to continue over the next two weeks and because we want to give businesses the ability to plan ahead and fully prepare,” Gov. Phil Murphy said at a press briefing April 26. “Looking at the trend in our numbers over the past weeks, we fully expect to continue our streak of announcing expansions and sticking to them.”

“We have been eager to relax our restrictions as soon as the numbers gave us confidence that we could do so safely and responsibly—that time has come,” he added.

Outdoor Gatherings

The expansions announced include limits on outdoor gatherings increasing to 500 people from 200 people. For outdoor venues, capacity will increase to 50% while the venue size will decrease to 1,000 fixed seats. The current limit is 30% capacity for venues with at least 2,500 fixed seats.

Outdoor carnivals and fairs are permitted to operate at 50% capacity, aligned with other amusement businesses on the second Monday in May.

Still in effect will be the health protocols familiar to state residents attendees events such as ball games and performances—including social distancing practices of sitting six feet apart, except for those who purchase tickets together. Murphy added that the states stance on face masks outdoors—they must be worn when social distancing can not be maintained—will remain in effect pending review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Indoor Gatherings

Capacity limits for indoor private catering events, such as weddings and high school proms, will increase to 50% to a maximum of 250 people; the current limits are 35% with a maximum of 150 people. The new limits apply to political events, funerals, memorial services and performances as well. 

Dance floors will be allowed to open at private catered events with masking and social distancing requirements in place. However, dance floors at bars and other businesses such as nightclubs must remain closed.

Murphy noted it’s a fine line but believed catering halls are able to police the masking and social distancing mandates. Additionally for restaurants and bars, the governor reiterated outdoor dining is not subject to a numerical capacity limitation. The only limitation is the number of groups that can be place outdoors that can be spaced six feet apart.

More Expansion Eyed

Indoor dining remains at 50% capacity, but Murphy indicated future guidance will address the issue. “Stay tuned…we hope to increase the limits sooner rather than later if numbers keep improving,” he said. 

Besides indoor dining, Murphy expects to incrementally ease other restrictions in the coming weeks as more New Jerseyans continue to get vaccinated. 

“Should our public health metrics continue to trend as they have been, we would hope to increase this limit yet again before Memorial Day,” said Murphy. “Because of everything you are doing—whether it is continuing to wear your masks and social distancing or getting vaccinated—you are helping us crush these curves yet again.” 

The governor said New Jerseyans should look at the guidances going into effect May 10 as a “new floor” with expectations of increasing these limits again “substantially” if the numbers keep improving.

“The more you keep doing, the sooner we can look to further reopenings —and I am optimistic that time will come very soon,” said Murphy. “If the numbers keep going in the right direction and people continue to do the right thing…getting vaccinated…our capacities will continue to open up.”

Vaccine Distribution

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 6,611,861 as of April 26. Of those who have received the vaccine, 4,091,234 residents have received their first dose with 2,819,226 receiving their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose; 52% have been administered the Pfizer vaccine, 44% the Moderna vaccine and 4% the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Demographically, 55% of those vaccinated are women and 45% men. As for ethnicity, 56% are White, 11% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 10% other, 8% unknown and 6% Black. In regards to age of those having received the vaccine, 33% are 65 years old or olders, 29% are between the ages of 50-64, 27% are between the ages of 30-49, and 12% are between the ages of 16-29.  

In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 743,350 doses (318,577 fully vaccinated), Essex 523,943 doses (211,915), Morris 459,286 doses (197,907), Hudson 424,932 doses (164,890), Passaic 316,684 doses (131,006), Sussex 103,191 doses (43,066), and Warren 65,843 doses (27,663). 

Daily Data

As of April 26, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 865,700 with 1,247 total new PCR cases reported. There were 311 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 123,186. The total number of individual cases for the state is 988,886. 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 19 new deaths, bringing that total to 22,788. The state listed probable deaths at 2,611, bringing the overall total to 25,399. State officials noted 30 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.  

For North Jersey counties on April 26, Bergen had a total of 104 new confirmed cases and 37 probable cases, Essex 120 new cases and 22 probable cases, Hudson 122 new cases and 22 probable cases, Morris 40 new cases and 19 probable cases, Passaic 85 new cases and 15 probable cases, Sussex 18 new cases and six probable cases, and Warren 11 cases and one new probable cases.

There are a total of 3,808 coronavirus variants being reported in the Garden State. State officials documented 2,275 cases of the U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), 1,348 cases of the New York variant (B.1.526), 131 cases of the California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427), 51 cases of the Brazilian (P.1) variant, and three cases of the South African (B.1351) variant. 

Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,579, followed by Bergen at 2,518, Hudson with 1,994, Passaic at 1,658, Morris at 959, Sussex at 226 and Warren County at 206.

In regards to probable deaths reported April 21, Essex has 295, Bergen has 294, Morris has 249, Hudson has 210, Passaic has 195, Sussex has 67 and Warren has 25.

State Testing 

As for the rate of transmission, it declined to 0.90 from 0.92 the day before. The daily rate of infections from those tested as of April 22, was 6.4%; by region, the rate was 6.5% in the North, 5.6% in the Central region and 7.9% in the South. 

Officials reported 1,797 patients were hospitalized; 1,689 cases were confirmed and 108 are under investigation. By region, there were 977, in the North, 484 in the Central and 436 in the South.

Of those hospitalized, 398 are in intensive care units and 246 on ventilators. A total of 209 patients were discharged, while 170 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 87,386, followed by Essex at 83,016, Middlesex at 82,919, Hudson at 77,132, Monmouth at 65,987, Ocean at 64,292, Passaic at 63,714, Union at 58,882, Camden at 47,052, Morris at 41,185, Burlington at 37,191, Mercer at 30,732, Gloucester at 25,525, Atlantic at 24,200, Somerset at 23,584, Cumberland at 14,047, Sussex at 11,233, Hunterdon at 8,589, Warren at 8,582, Salem at 5,263, and Cape May at 4,434.  

In regards to probable cases, Bergen had the most at 12,829, followed by Union at 10,663, Ocean at 9,841, Essex at 9,106, Hudson at 8,872, Morris at 7,885, Monmouth at 7,848, Middlesex at 7,171, Passaic at 7,046, Atlantic at 6,479, Burlington at 6,278, Camden at 6,245, Somerset at 5,577, Cape May at 4,445, Gloucester at 3,806, Mercer at 2,274, Cumberland at 2,208, Sussex at 2,157, Warren at 978, Hunterdon at 849 and Salem 519.

Another 755 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

In regards to cases related to in-school transmissions, a total of 245 outbreaks involving 1,094 cases have been reported, with nine new outbreaks accounting for 31 cases in the weekly update on April 21. 

For North Jersey, Bergen County has 52 confirmed outbreaks with 198 cases, Passaic County has 16 confirmed outbreaks with 52 cases, Warren has 14 confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Sussex has 12 confirmed outbreaks with 48 cases, Morris County has five confirmed outbreaks with 34 cases, Hudson County has five confirmed outbreaks with 23 cases, and Essex County with one confirmed outbreak with 92 cases.

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 223 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 6,203 of the cases, broken down between 2,694 residents and 3,509 staff. 

Cumulatively, 1,407 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 32,742 residents and 21,997 staff, for a total of 54,739 cases. 

The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,025 on April 26. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,867 residents deaths and 286 staff deaths.

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