This "Safe" State Is Reversing Its Reopening as COVID Spikes Again
Just weeks after posting impressive numbers, cases in New Jersey are rising, causing a reopening reversal.
July has seen the Sun Belt states battling against major coronavirus surges. California, Texas, and Florida have all surpassed New York, the country's previous epicenter, for the most total COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. But now, it appears that other areas of the country are beginning to see cases spike—including states that had previously contained the virus. New Jersey, for example, has seen COVID cases start to rise again, and now, the state is reversing some of its reopening plans as a result.
In an announcement on August 3, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy officially reduced the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings from 100 to 25, Reuters reports. A limit on keeping crowds in smaller rooms to 25 percent of their legal capacity will also stay in place, as will a restriction on all indoor dining across the state. The limit won't apply to weddings, funerals, or first-amendment-protected events, which remain at a cap of 100.
UPDATE: We are retightening the restriction on indoor gatherings.
Until further notice, indoor gatherings are now limited to 25% of a room's capacity – with a MAXIMUM of 25 persons, down from 100.
To be clear, this tightening caps indoor house parties at 25 people – period. pic.twitter.com/MWt4YtNQHI
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) August 3, 2020
The governor went on to address the spiking numbers in the state, which was, just a couple of weeks ago, considered to be one of the places in the U.S. that beat coronavirus. "Over the last week, we saw numbers of new cases that we hadn't seen in eight weeks," Murphy said, referencing the jump in New Jersey's infection rate from 1 to 1.49 in the short span of time. "Everyone needs to get it together—and fast. This is not yet past us."
"Unfortunately, the actions of a few knuckleheads leave us no other course," Murphy said candidly during the announcement. "We have to go back and tighten these restrictions."
Gatherings in New Jersey have proven difficult to control since the state started reopening. On July 25, a party at an Airbnb property became overrun with 700 guests; it took law enforcement over five hours to break up, CNN reported. And the popular summer community of Long Beach Island saw nearly 30 young lifeguards infected after they attended a large after-work party.
According to data from Covid Act Now, New Jersey currently sits at "at-risk" status, thanks to its aforementioned increasing infection rate. On August 2, the state posted a new case rate of 4.7 per every 100,00 residents, nearly double the 2.5 rate from July 22.
On August 3, Ashish Jha, MD, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI), said, "I'm worried people in the Northeast think we're done with the pandemic." While he cited Massachusetts and Rhode Island specifically, it seems New Jersey is one of the states that he said "are heading in the wrong direction." And for more warnings from this top medical professional, check out This Thing You're Doing Is a "Massive Risk Factor," Harvard Doctor Says.