The alarm bells went off in New Jersey on Monday as a state that appeared to have successfully flattened the coronavirus curve saw the number of new cases soar 175% in the past two weeks, showed a analysis of the latest figures from NBC News.
As of Monday morning, New Jersey had reported 185,537 confirmed cases and 15,836 deaths, according to the latest figures. The state’s transmission rate had rebounded to 1.48, the level of April, when the pandemic was at its worst in the state.
From July 20 to August 2, New Jersey recorded 5,070 new cases and 134 deaths, according to figures from NBC News.
Gov. Phil Murphy responded on Monday by tightening restrictions on the number of people who can gather in halls or indoor parties from 100 to 25.
“Limiting indoor gatherings to 25 people is a pretty significant step,” said Murphy, a Democrat. “We knew that when we reopened, we would take more risks. “
On Friday, the governor admitted that the state “stood in a very dangerous place” and blamed the “knuckleheads” for breaking the rules squarely.
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“Anyone who walks around refusing to wear a mask or throwing a house party is a direct contributor to these increases,” Murphy said. “It must stop and it must stop now.”
While Murphy threatened to tighten restrictions on COVID-19, he appeared to have little means to enforce a mask warrant or other security requirements, other than to get people to comply with his guidelines.
But it’s not hard to find evidence that New Jersey residents aren’t as safe as they could be.
At popular outdoor venues like The Waterfront, in West Orange at the South Mountain Recreation Complex, dozens of strollers strolling around the reservoir could be seen on Saturday afternoon ignoring signs to wear masks and follow directions. trails, and there were no police or park workers. in sight to put them in order. No one seemed to be watching the crowded playgrounds either, where most maskless parents mingled with mostly maskless children.
And while the beaches up and down the Jersey Shore required sunbathers to wear masks to enter, once they hit the sand there didn’t seem to be much effort to ensure that masks remain or that visitors socially distance themselves on the sand and in the waves.
Additionally, house parties in Jersey Shore towns like Middletown and the island of Long Beach that have drawn crowds of teenagers have been linked to dozens of new cases of coronavirus in recent weeks. And state health officials were still awaiting the fallout from a huge house party at an Airbnb rental in the town of Jackson last month, which drew some 700 people and resulted in three arrests when police has closed.
New Jersey was one of the hardest hit states at the start of the pandemic and Murphy was initially praised for taking decisive action. The governor was also one of the first to demand that masks be worn outdoors in public places.
New Jersey is not the only state to have declined in the number of new cases. Hawaii also saw a big spike, with a 156% increase in new cases over the past 14 days, according to the NBC News tally. But the numbers there are much less dire than those in New Jersey, with 2,219 total cases and 26 deaths.
In other developments:
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the national response to COVID-19 needs a “reset” starting with President Donald Trump. “I think he needs to get up and say what he didn’t say six months ago,” Cuomo said on MSNBC. “He has to tell the American people that Covid is serious, that we cannot deny it, that it is not political. It’s not going to go away by magic. There was no immediate response from Trump. Critics say Trump, who waited until March 13 to declare a national emergency, has played down the danger of the pandemic from the start. As recently as last month, Trump said the pandemic would “just go away.” New York, which was once the country’s hotspot, has reported 423,045 cases and 33,541 deaths. But new cases in the past two weeks are down three percent over the previous two weeks, according to NBC News figures.
- The World Health Organization poured cold water in hopes of developing a vaccine against COVID-19. “A number of vaccines are currently in phase three clinical trials and we all hope to have a number of effective vaccines that can help prevent infections,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus . “However, there is no quick fix at the moment – and there may never be. Trump has been saying for months that a vaccine was coming. And last week, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a congressional committee he was “cautiously optimistic” that researchers would have perfected their skills on a coronavirus vaccine. by the end of the year.
- A Roman Catholic pastor from Washington, DC, who had urged his flock not to “curl up in fear” of the coronavirus has tested positive. The city’s health department said hundreds of church staff and parishioners who took part in church services between July 25 and July 27 were exposed and should be quarantined for two weeks. . Bishop Charles Pope of Holy Comforter St. Cyprian Catholic Church was diagnosed after being admitted to a hospital with a high fever on July 27, The Washington Post and other media reported. Nine days earlier, Pope wrote in the National Catholic Register that “we, as a nation and as a church, have succumbed to an excessive fear” of COVID-19. “There is more to life than not getting sick and not dying,” he wrote. Additionally, in a July 27 interview on the “Morning Glory” radio show, the Pope dismissed worshipers who stayed away from the church to avoid being infected as “lukewarm Catholics.” .
- White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has found herself under attack from both Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “I think the president has been spreading misinformation about the virus and she’s her appointment, so I don’t trust her there, no,” Pelosi said Sunday on ABC “This Week.” Trying to defend himself, Birx drew Trump’s ire after he said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the pandemic was in a “new phase” and was “extraordinarily widespread” even in rural areas. Trump dismissed Birx’s response on Monday as “pathetic.« It was the first time Birx has been publicly criticized by Trump, who has often lashed out at Fauci for contradicting the president’s more positive view of the progression of a pandemic that has destroyed the national economy and endangered his chances of re-election in November.