TRENTON (WCBS 880) — Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday urged New Jersey residents to adhere to coronavirus guidelines and stop hosting indoor house parties after the state has seen an increase in cases.
The governor stressed that indoor house parties has been the cause of a significant rise in cases and noted New Jersey was “back to where we were roughly a month ago.”
At least 50 cases were linked to a teen house party that was held in Middletown last week, Murphy said. Meanwhile, at least three dozen lifeguards in the state had tested positive after attending a party on Long Beach Island.
“Over the past four days, we’ve reported roughly 2,000 new positive coronavirus test results,” he said. “We’re now back to where we were roughly a month ago in the daily number of new cases.”
New Jersey health officials are now on edge, watching the after-effects of a 700-person party that police spent five hours breaking up in Whispering Hill over the weekend.
“We’ve all had our routines turned upside down for the past four months, and we want to blow off some steam with friends, but indoor house parties spread coronavirus more efficiently,” Murphy stressed.
In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he is considering criminal charges against those who have bee responsible for hosting large gatherings.
However, in an interview with WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg, Murphy stopped short of agreeing with the move.
“We've had way too many incidents over the past couple of weeks – graduation parties, indoor house parties. The virus is far more lethal indoors than it is outdoors, which is part of the reason why –a big part of the reason why – we've been careful to open up things indoors,” he said. “We knew to some extent if you don't have indoor bars open, you might drive some of these parties underground, but enough. Will law enforcement begin to get more involved in pushing back against this trend? You betcha, we have no choice.”
He stresses that the state’s attorney general is not looking to charge anyone at the moment.
The governor also says that outdoor gatherings and parties are fine with social distancing, and recommends people take advantage of that allowance.
“It’s okay to be outside – especially please wear a face covering, social distance. Those kinds of gatherings, for the most part, are good, they’re okay. We’ve got some limitations, but the limitations are high,” Murphy said. “It’s the indoors, lack of ventilation, on top of each other, no face covering – the virus is lethal in those circumstances.”
He noted there were 489 new cases reported on Wednesday morning, bringing the state’s cases total to 180,766. There were also 18 new deaths in the state.
New Jersey is also currently investigating 1,875 probable COVID-19 deaths.
As of Tuesday, 761 people were hospitalized with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, 49 of whom were on ventilators, the governor said. The state’s rate of transmission still stands at 1.14 percent.
“All of the metrics in our healthcare system continue to trend positively,” he added. “But we’re not out of the woods yet. We still need to practice personal responsibility and common sense.”