Cases of coronavirus in New Jersey, which just a week ago had plunged to their lowest levels since the onset of the pandemic, are rising again, driven in part by outbreaks among young adults along the Jersey coast.
In the past seven days, New Jersey has recorded an average of 416 cases per day, an increase of 28 percent from the average two weeks ago, according to a database maintained by The New York Times.
The rise has worried elected leaders and public health officials, who say young people enjoying the summer holidays are not taking enough precautions.
A party attended by dozens of Long Beach Island guards was linked to 35 cases of the virus, according to the state health commissioner. A house party in Middletown, NJ, has been blamed for 65 new cases; 52 of the infected people were between the ages of 15 and 19, said Gov. Philip D. Murphy. And a graduation party in Westfield, NJ, farther north, resulted in 17 cases.
“I just want to pray once again for parents and children,” Mr Murphy said Monday. “Do not gather inside. Please do not do it. If you are going to gather, go outside. Wear a face mask. Stay away from each other.”
The head of the State Police said the parties could be linked to the continued closure of bars and restaurants, creating what he called an “underground situation”.
Perhaps the brightest example of this apparent thirst for summer fun, a house party in Jackson, NJ, about 65 miles south of Manhattan, drew more than 700 people Sunday night, prompting police to issue tickets. for the three organizers. More than 100 cars were parked outside, and it took police more than five hours to clear the scene.
Just a week ago, New Jersey recorded its lowest seven-day average of new daily coronavirus cases – 224 – since the numbers reached the state in early April.
The highlight also came as the Jersey Shore beaches were in full swing, the Atlantic City casinos were open and cities across the state were murmuring streets to create lively outdoor dining bargains.
Mr Murphy’s aides claimed the achievement on Twitter, noting that New Jersey was the only state in the country that achieved a two-week drop in new cases of the virus.
On Thursday, it was New York’s turn to fill the crowd. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo noted that New York had achieved new reductions in the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 or in fans. The positive test score was 1.09 percent in New York – less than half of New Jersey’s positive rate of 2.42 percent on Wednesday.
Mr. Cuomo said he had no plans to stop New Jersey residents from coming to New York.
“I do not know how you can quarantine New Jersey,” said Mr. Cuomo. “They’re not flying to New York. You’re going to have to block roads, and we’re not talking about blockages.”
Officials with Mr. Murphy’s office noted Thursday that despite the stalemate, New Jersey continues to be among the six states with the fewest new infections per day per 100,000 inhabitants. Some of the increase in the past week may also be related to a delay in test results, which they said are sometimes delivered in large groups, reducing the number of daily issues.
On Wednesday, for example, the state reported 489 new cases of the virus; on Thursday, there were 261.
Still, the governor did not raise words about the disturbing trend that had the potential to undermine months of conscientious efforts to reduce the spread of the virus that has been linked to 15,809 deaths in the state.
“Over the last four months, we have suppressed the curve,” he warned on Wednesday. “But people, that ‘s dizzying.”
He added: “Now we are back – plus or minus – to where we were a month ago in the daily issue of new issues. We can not go back. We can not afford to go back.”
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Perry N. Halkitis, an epidemiologist and dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health, agreed to the delay in testing the results to falsify the daily data report.
But he said the seven-day trend is alarming.
“It’s time for us to say, ‘Indicators are bad,'” Mr. Halkitis said. “People have just gathered without thinking.”
He added, “it ‘s almost like we have to pause, now, before it’ s too late.”
The risk of the virus has reached near its ground: The number of Rutgers University football players infected with the virus rose to 15 on Wednesday, said health commissioner Judith M. Persichilli. The college announced on Saturday that it had suspended the activities of the personal team and placed all players under quarantine.
Mr Halkitis said he was concerned about reopening schools in just over a month for in-person instruction.
“The thing that keeps me going overnight is the schools,” he said. “Absolutely is an oh-oh moment.”
George Helmy, the governor’s chief of staff, said they take any increase in virus cases seriously, and will continue to monitor any changes in the spread of the virus.
Mr Murphy has said his aim is to try to open all schools to at least some in-person instruction, although final decisions are being made by individual districts.
“New Jersey has the best public education system in the country and the governor believes personal learning for our children is essential to their academic progress, social and mental well-being and development,” he said. Helmy on Thursday.
“Public health informs all of our decisions and we continue to evaluate and re-evaluate our data as we approach the first day of school.”
Amanda Rosa contributed reporting.