New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday issued an executive order limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people effective Tuesday, Nov. 17 as daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state climb to record highs.
For the four day period from Friday to Monday, the state recorded another 14,566 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The breakdown is as follows: Monday, 2,232 cases; Sunday, 4,540 cases; Saturday, 4,395 cases; Friday, 3,399 cases. The new cases bring the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 281,493 cases.
“Another way to look at this is that five percent of our cumulative total has come from just the past four days,” Murphy said of the statistics.
The test positivity rate in the state is 9.43, and the transmission rate is 1.4, meaning on average every person who tests positive for COVID-19 is passing along the virus to more than one person. The transmission rate was 1.2 last Thursday.
For Saturday and Sunday, the daily counts were the first and second highest counts since March 4.
“Our highest case counts are no longer from when this virus first began rampaging across our communities,” Murphy said. “They have come now, when we are grappling with pandemic fatigue and when we know people have begun to let their guards down. We have got to get back in front of this virus as best we can now so that when a vaccine or multiple vaccines are ready for wide-scale distribution, we are in a stronger position for our vaccination program to work.”
Murphy said the first batches of vaccines maybe be ready by the end of the year and will be given to vulnerable people at long-term care facilities and to frontline healthcare workers first. The public will probably be able to receive vaccinations by the spring.
The reduction on indoor gathering limits takes effect at 6 a.m. on Tuesday. The gathering limits are being reduced from 25 people down to 10. Murphy noted that the order is targeted at private indoor gatherings such as house parties. Exceptions to the order include religious services or celebrations, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and performances, which are limited to 25 percent capacity of 150 people. The indoor gathering limit puts New Jersey in line with regulations instituted by neighboring states.
What we are doing today, we know will cause some people to adjust their Thanksgiving plans and cause frustration, but we’ve been saying for weeks that this will not be a normal Thanksgiving,” Murphy said. “We’re urging everybody to keep their Thanksgiving plans as small as possible because we know that indoor gatherings in homes are particularly dangerous places for COVID-19 to spread. The smaller the gathering is, the less likely it is that someone is infected and puts their loved ones at risk.”
Murphy said indoor sports gatherings will be limited to 10 people effective at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Only players, coaches, and referees can gather beyond the 10-person limit for practices and competitions.
Outdoor gathering limits are being pulled back from 500 people down to 150, with the exception of religious services or celebrations, political activities, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and memorial services. The limitation will apply to youth and high school sporting events and performances. The limit for sports includes players, coaches, referees, and spectators. The outdoor gathering regulations will take effect on Nov. 23. Masks must be work at outdoor gatherings and people should be practicing social distancing outdoors, Murphy said.
Officials said another 14 residents of the state have died as a result of complications from COVID-19, bringing the statewide total of confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 14,799 deaths. Another 1,801 deaths are probably coronavirus-related deaths.
As of Sunday night, hospitals in New Jersey were treating 2,115 COVID-19 patients, with 417 patients in intensive care units and 137 patients on ventilators.