Murphy: COVID activity has risen to moderate levels statewide

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The rising rate of COVID-19 transmission among young people worries health officials.

TRENTON — As COVID-19 cases uptick across every region of the state, Gov. Phil Murphy and state health officials are urging residents to take caution, especially with small gatherings as Thanksgiving and other holidays approach.

Over the past couple weeks, health officials had pointed to outbreaks in Lakewood and at Monmouth University, but now the rising numbers are widespread. For the first time since the peak of the novel coronavirus in March and April, the entire state of New Jersey is seeing moderate COVID-19 activity, Gov. Murphy said during his Oct. 15 news briefing. 

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli displayed a color-coded map that showed all six regions of the state tracked by the health department as in the yellow zone, meaning moderate COVID-19 activity. Red would indicate high, and green, low.

“During March 28th through April 25th, we were in very high activity marked as red on the map. This was during our surge,” Ms. Persichilli said. “This [today] is the first time the entire state has been in the yellow zone. We do not want to see the red zone again in our state, but that depends on all of you,” taking proper precautions. 

”While we’re seeing more people being vigilant in public,” Gov. Murphy said, “it is when you let your guard down in your own home that things could go awry. 

“Where we can regulate, where we can enforce compliance, we’re largely …  in good shape as a state. It’s where we can’t, where we can’t get inside your house, where we can’t get inside a packed in, congregate, multi-generational family living, especially. That’s where we’re seeing not all of the challenges, but that’s where we’re seeing the bulk of them,” he said.

“Sadly, we’re seeing more and more family gatherings as the sparks for these outbreaks,” he said. “We urge everyone to take stock of how many people you may be inviting to your Thanksgiving table. This is not the year to plan to visit out-of-state relatives, or to invite them to New Jersey. … Move, if at all possible, your celebration outdoors, maybe around a fire pit or a patio heater.”

“So again, start planning your holidays now and please plan for a smaller table this year, so we can help ensure that you can once again gather at a larger one next year,” the governor said.

“Individuals should stay at least six feet apart, wear masks, practice frequent hand washing,” Ms. Persichilli added. 

The state reported 973 new cases overnight, and a cumulative total of 215,994. Hospitalizations are above 700 for the first time in two months; overnight, 733 people were reported hospitalized, with 178 of those in intensive care and 60 on ventilators.

“In each of these key metrics, total hospitalizations, patients in our ICUs, and ventilators in use, we are now seeing increases that have been carried for better than one week,” Gov. Murphy said.

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