At Monday's COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy retightened the restriction on indoor gatherings. Until further notice, indoor gatherings are now limited to 25% capacity with a maximum of 25 people in a room. The previous restriction allowed up to 100 in a room.

"To be clear, this tightening caps house parties at 25 people, period," Murphy said.

The restriction does not apply to weddings, funerals, memorial services and religious and political activities. While they must adhere to the 25% capacity limit, they can have up to 100 people, Murphy said.

He also announced that face coverings will be required for all students at all times while inside a school building, regardless of social distancing, unless a student has a disability.

Murphy's new restriction comes after an incline in COVID-19 cases, which he says are a result of large indoor house parties seen around the state.

"We welcome the proactive action by Airbnb to suspend and remove the listings of some 35 problem properties which had received complaints for becoming merely party houses," he said. "This will help us curtail the dangerous actions of a few that put many people and communities at risk.

"Unfortunately, the actions of a few knuckleheads leave us no other course," he added. "We have to go back and tighten these restrictions."

Until the state sees the numbers of cases decrease over a seven-day period, and the rate of transmission drop over a period of time, these new restrictions on indoor gatherings will remain in place, he said. Over the last week, the state has seen a numbers of new cases that it hadn’t seen in eight weeks and the rate of transmission is now more than double than where it was a few weeks ago, according to the governor.

"It all comes down to this: The only way we can get to where we want to be with indoor activities is if everyone plays by the rules and no one tries to make end-runs around them," he said. "This is not a game. This is about public health and safety."

He also signed an Executive Order allowing any public employee eligible for enrollment into the State Health Benefits Plan to immediately enroll upon hire, instead of waiting 60 days. 

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 264 bringing the total to 182,614, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday. There have been 10 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 13,971.

There are 738 people hospitalized across the state, including 144 people in intensive care and 49 people on ventilators, Murphy said. 

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

Atlantic County health officials reported no new COVID-19 deaths on Monday. There were 19 more residents who tested positive including six men, ages 29-84, and 13 women, ages 19-67.

There were four each in Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township, three in Gallowa, two each in Hamilton Township and Pleasantville and one each in Absecon, Egg Harbor City, Hammonton and Northfield.

The countywide total of cases stands at 3,592, with 1,994 residents having been cleared as recovered. A total of 241 residents have died as a result of COVID-19.

Atlantic County will continue to provide testing at its drive-thru facility in Northfield at Rt. 9 and Dolphin Avenue, behind the county public works yard, each Tuesday in August from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. 

Due to the forecast of inclement weather related to Tropical Storm Isaias, the testing scheduled for Tuesday, August 4 has been postponed and all scheduled appointments have been automatically rescheduled at the same time on Thursday, August 6.

The test site is available for both symptomatic and asymptomatic county residents with or without a doctor’s prescription. Residents must make an appointment for testing and provide proof of county residency and appointment confirmation. Appointments can be made online at www.aclink.org

In lieu of Atlantic County's National Night Out, which was scheduled for Tuesday,  Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler announced a partnership with Ring, Inc., the home security system that incorporates outdoor motion-detecting cameras, to keep Atlantic County safe. 

The Neighbors initiative, which Scheffler dubbed a “digital neighborhood watch program,” uses a portal created by Ring for the community to link their Ring surveillance videos to. It also offers those who do not have Ring technology to upload videos from any system to share information.

“National Night Out is our annual celebration of our police and communities coming together to promote safety in our neighborhoods,” said Scheffler. “While we physically cannot gather together this year, it is very important to recognize and celebrate our police/community connection. This partnership with Ring is a great example of how we can come together as one to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

The program also works in reverse so that if a partnering agency, like the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, is seeking information, the Sheriff’s Office can put out a request on the portal seeking information and videos from the community.

“It’s great because even if you don’t have a Ring camera, you can be part of the safety network and join the program as a member, which is absolutely free,” Scheffler added. “The bottom line is we believe this technology will solve more crimes and make neighborhoods safer,” said Scheffler, who added that anyone who joins the Ring community will remain anonymous, even to law enforcement.

COVID-19 and antibody testing will occur in Pleasantville on August 6 and 7 at Oasis UMC, 516 Martin Luther King Ave, Pleasantville. Testing will be conducted from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. To preregister, click here.

Gov. Phil Murphy to hold a COVID-19 briefing at 1 p.m. on Monday. The livestream can be watched here.

On Sunday, Murphy reported 331 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths.

Traffic lights are out in the Beachwood area of Ocean County, according to the Ocean County Sheriff's Office. The outage is due to a power failure.

Contact: 609-272-7239

CFairfield@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPress_CJ

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