With fans returning in full force to the MetLife and Rutgers University for football, Gov. Phil Murphy admitted he was concerned about the spread of the coronavirus in packed outdoor venues.
Murphy, who was in attendance at the Giants-Broncos game Sept. 12, said he checked before he attended the game at the Meadowlands for the facilities protocols. The sports complex does not require a mask, either indoor or outdoors, for fans to attend the game. However, they have instituted protocols such as contactless purchases and mobile ticketing in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
State officials admitted the numbers of people in tight quarters is a concern even if it is outdoors.
“If you are packed in, taking in a ball game or a concert, you are taking on some additional risk, even if you are outside as opposed to if you were sitting on your couch at home watching the game on television,” said Murphy at a press briefing Sept. 15. “If you are inside and walking around people whose vaccination status you don’t know while walking to your seat, put your mask on.”
The governor pointed out that “it’s a strong recommendation” from him and the state’s health officials to wear masks indoors.
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“I assume (on) the basis of what we’ve been talking about for 18 or 19 months, which is this is a lot less lethal outside than inside,” said Murphy. “When my wife and I were inside, we had our masks on, but I would admit to you there was not a whole lot of adherence to that.”
The Giants and the Jets do not have any mask or vaccine mandates for fans. Four NFL teams currently have or will enact COVID-19 vaccine protocols. New Orleans, Seattle and Las Vegas started the season requiring fans to be fully vaccinated if they want to attend. New Orleans and Las Vegas are both indoor stadiums; Seattle is an open air venue.
The Buffalo Bills this week announced a new policy that will require all fans to be vaccinated to attend games. Beginning with the Sept. 26 game against the Washington Football Team, all fans ages 12 and up must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot in order to attend. That rule will expand to requiring all attendees over the age requirement to be fully vaccinated starting with the Oct. 31 game vs. the Miami Dolphins and masks will no longer be required for those above the age of 12 once the new policy is in place.
Open to Change
As for home games for New Jersey’s state university, face masks will be required within indoor spaces at SHI Stadium, including the Provident Bank Stadium Club and press box. Students are mandated to be fully vaccinated to attend the school. For others attending the game, no vaccine mandate is in place.
The Prudential Center currently does not require proof of a negative COVID test and/or vaccination to enter Prudential Center. Theaters and concert venues rules are varying according to the operators of those businesses. Five Broadway shows in New York opened on Sept. 14, with a mask mandate to wear the entire show as well as being fully vaccinated.
“We know that the virus is a lot less lethal outside,” said Murphy. “We think what we have in place are the right procools but these are things that we continue to look at constantly.”
The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in New Jersey totaled 11,432,084 in-state, plus an additional 419,387 administered out-of-state for a grand total of 11,852,345 as of Sept. 15. Of those who have received the vaccine, 5,557,246 received their second dose or the one jab Johnson & Johnson dose in state and another 180,482 out of state, bringing those fully vaccinated to 5,737,728.
In North Jersey, Bergen County has delivered 1,277,367 doses (622,903 fully vaccinated), Essex 987,832 doses (473,872), Hudson 897,823 doses (430,597), Morris 695,127 doses (338,021), Passaic 614,470 doses (296,119), Sussex 164,061 doses (80,768), and Warren 106,432 doses (52,090).
As of Sept. 15, the cumulative number of confirmed coronavirus cases in New Jersey was 977,517 with 1,815 total new PCR cases. There were 582 probable cases, bringing the cumulative total of antigen tests to 145,847. The total number of individual cases for the state is 1,123,364.
As for those that have passed, the state reported 21 confirmed deaths, bringing that total to 24,356. The state listed probable deaths at 2,766, bringing the overall total to 27,122. State officials noted 13 deaths occurred in the last 24 hours of reporting that have not yet been lab confirmed.
For North Jersey counties on Sept. 15, Bergen had a total of 191 new confirmed cases and 36 new probable cases, Essex 128 new cases and 18 new probable case, Hudson 97 new cases and three new probable cases, Morris 65 new confirmed cases and 16 new probable cases, Passaic 101 new cases and 19 new probable cases, Sussex 19 new cases and 29 new probable cases, and Warren 33 new cases and three new probable cases.
Of the total confirmed deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 2,795, followed by Bergen at 2,623, Hudson with 2,132, Passaic at 1,769, Morris at 1,005, Sussex at 249, and Warren County at 222.
In regards to probable deaths reported Sept. 13, Essex has 310, Bergen has 306, Morris has 263, Hudson has 222, Passaic has 206, Sussex has 69 and Warren has 26.
Of the 5,212,016 fully vaccinated individuals studied as of Aug. 30, 18,390 New Jersey residents have tested positive for COVID who were fully vaccinated, resulting in 386 COVID-related hospitalizations and 97 COVID-related deaths.
In the week of Aug. 23-29, breakthroughs accounted for 21.6% of all new cases (2,602 of 12,051), 3.7% of new hospilizations (35 of 945), and none of the 80 deaths.
As for the rate of transmission reported Sept. 15, it remained at 1.01 for a fourth day in a row. The daily rate of infections from those tested Sept. 11 was 7.5%; by region, the rate was 6.4% in the North, 8.1% in the Central region and 9.3% in the South.
The state reported 1,155 patients were hospitalized; by region, there were 403 in the North, 380 in the Central and 372 in the South. Of those hospitalized, 275 are in intensive care units and 136 on ventilators. A total of 139 patients were discharged.
Officials have continually cited transmission rate, hospitalizations, 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.
Long-term Care Facilities
Health officials noted 149 long-term care facilities are currently reporting at least one case of COVID-19, accounting for a total of 1,101 of the cases, broken down between 610 residents and 501 staff.
Cumulatively, 1,682 long-term care facilities reported a case infecting 33,478 residents and 22,818 staff, for a total of 56,296.
The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, sits at 8,497 on Sept. 15. The facilities are reporting to the state 7,935 residents deaths and 145 staff deaths.