Covid-19 cases rising in New Jersey as officials prepare for second wave

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Covid-19 cases rising in New Jersey as officials prepare for second wave

Judith Persichilli speaks to the media. | Pool photo by Chris Pedota / Gannett

New Jersey officials say they are preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus. The state has 1,301 new Covid-19 cases, the highest number in a single day since May.

In a briefing Thursday, Governor Phil Murphy described the number as “sobering” and asked residents to practice social distancing and wear masks.

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“Please, please, please keep doing the right thing, like millions of you have done. And for those of you who didn’t, wake up because you yelled out loud. Wake up, ”Murphy said.

The state has seen case numbers escalate in Counties of Monmouth and Ocean along the Jersey Shore, particularly Lakewood, a parish of more than 100,000 residents. Overall, 22 percent of the 1,301 new cases were in Ocean County and 10 percent in Monmouth County. The rest came from a few other counties across the state.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli warned that the number of cases would continue to rise without adequate measures.

“We expect a second wave,” she said. “If individuals fail to keep social distancing, mask guidelines, wash their hands, or stay home when they’re sick, that wave can spike.”

The good news, officials said, is that the state is much better prepared with tests than it was in the spring and has a supply of personal protective equipment.

Persichilli said signs of community expansion are “predominantly, but not exclusively” among teenagers and young adults. The state is also closely monitoring Lakewood.

Murphy has been careful the past few days to highlight the severity of the Lakewood outbreak without pounding the sizable Orthodox Jewish community.

Persichilli said state officials are working closely with the local health department and other community leaders to improve testing and contact tracking. Testing in Lakewood has “increased dramatically” and more than 1,000 people were tested yesterday.

Persichilli said the exaltations could be related to the recent most holy days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. The spikes are mostly in white, non-Hispanic men between the ages of 19 and 49.

It is unclear what action Murphy will take next. He has indicated that he would like to take a “scalpel” approach as opposed to statewide restrictions and he wants to work with community leaders.

The state has now recorded 16 outbreaks in schools, a total of 58 Covid cases. There are more than 3,000 school buildings in New Jersey.

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