A boy gets tested for the coronavirus. | AP Photo/Morgan Lee
New Jersey reported 565 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, its highest daily total since early June, a clear indication the state is far from being “out of the woods,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.
The state’s rate of transmission, a measure of how many people will likely be infected by each new patient, remains above 1.0, Murphy said during an unrelated press conference. That means the virus is spreading faster than it’s being contained. The current rate of transmission, he said, is 1.14.
A transmission rate below 1 means each new case is spreading to fewer than one other person.
The rolling 7-day average of new cases, tracked by The New York Times, is climbing fast, and Covid Exit Strategy, a Covid-19 data website often cited by administration officials, recently downgraded the New Jersey’s status from “green” to “yellow,” indicating more caution is warranted.
“When you look at the raw numbers, it’s a mixed bag at best,” Murphy said Tuesday. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”
New Jersey has now recorded 180,295 coronavirus cases since March 4.
Why it’s important: New Jersey has already hit ‘pause’ on its reopening once, and Murphy has repeatedly threatened to reimpose elements of the state’s stay-at-home order if the public health picture worsens.
Some of New Jersey’s rising daily case totals could be attributed to backlogs of test samples submitted to commercial labs. Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest testing companies in the U.S., reported average delays of up to seven days on Monday.
However, compliance with social distancing guidelines also appears to be wavering. Flare-ups of new cases have been linked to house parties in Long Beach Island, Middletown and Stone Harbor. Large gatherings at restaurants, bars and beaches, with limited adherence to face covering requirements, have been also been reported.
According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released earlier Tuesday, 66 percent of the 809 New Jerseyans questioned favor keeping coronavrus restrictions in place until a vaccine or treatment is available. Just 29 percent favor a return to normal. At the same time, 77 percent support mandatory mask requirements in public, while 20 percent say masks should be optional and a “reflection of one’s personal freedom.”
Background: With the exception of New York, no state has recorded more Covid-19-related deaths than New Jersey (13,905 lab-confirmed, with another 1,920 likely as of Tuesday). Surging case totals across the U.S. compelled Murphy, in conjunction with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, to direct travelers from 36 states and territories to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entry in the tri-state area.