NJ could roll back reopening if COVID numbers don't improve

TRENTON. N.J. (1010 WINS) -- New Jersey will lower its size limits for gatherings if its COVID-19 transmission rate keeps rising, as the state is “standing in a very dangerous place" right now, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday.

The state’s rate of transmission has increased to 1.35, and its spot positivity rate currently stands at 2.15 percent, Murphy said during a briefing Friday afternoon. Those numbers are “setting off alarms that we are taking very seriously,” he said.

“We still may be among the leaders in having (lower) case numbers and daily positivity rates, but we are standing in a very dangerous place,” he said. “The only way to silence these alarms and get back to the process of moving forward is for everyone to take them seriously. Not just most of you, but all of you.” 

Indoor gatherings are currently limited to either 25 percent capacity or a maximum of 100 people — whichever is lower — but the state will lower those capacity limits if it needs to, he warned. 

“Everyone who walks around refusing to wear a mask, or who hosts an indoor house party, or who overstuffs a boat is directly contributing to these increases. This has to stop, and it has to stop now,” he said.

“I’m not announcing any specific action today, but consider this as being put on notice," he added. "We will not tolerate these ‘devil-may-care,' nonchalant attitudes any longer."

Murphy on Friday reported 699 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths, bringing the state’s case total to 181,660 and its death toll to 13,944. 

No “in-hospital deaths” were reported over the 24-hour period ending at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, marking an “extraordinary milestone” for the state, Murphy said. Seven of the people who died passed away over the past five days, he said.

As of Thursday, 695 people were hospitalized with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, 113 of whom were in intensive care units and 45 of whom were on ventilators. 

And while New Jersey remains among the 10 states nationwide with the lowest number of cases per capita, residents must remain vigilant, Murphy said. 

“We all want to get back to things the way they were, but right now, that’s just not possible,” he said. “Keep social distancing. Keep wearing a mask. Use your common sense.”