Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday urged residents to plan for small gatherings this Thanksgiving as cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, as do hospitalizations and fatalities.
“This Thanksgiving, we hope that you and your loved ones have made plans to remain safe this year so we can look forward to bigger celebrations next year,” Murphy said during a briefing with other state officials. “Over 16,500 individuals who were alive last Thanksgiving are no longer with us.”
Murphy also highlighted several testing sites for the new coronavirus in South Jersey.
Testing will be available from noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Stockton University Residential Complex, 3701 Boardwalk, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at St. Michael’s Church, 10 N. Mississippi Ave.
Also, testing will be available at the Atlantic City Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, then from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 and finally from Dec. 7 to Dec. 12.
In addition, testing at Stockton’s Galloway Township campus is scheduled for noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 at the Townsend Residential Life Center and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 and Dec. 9 at Lakeside Towne Hall.
The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey has increased by 3,592, bringing the total to 309,588, Murphy said. There have been 11 additional deaths, bringing the state total to 14,960 with 1,812 probable deaths.
There are 2,693 people hospitalized across the state, including 537 people in intensive care and 240 people on ventilators, Murphy said.
The positivity rate is 8.65%, while the rate of transmission is 1.32.
The positivity rate in South Jersey is the same as the state average, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
“Currently, only the southeast region, which includes Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties are in a moderate level” for the disease, Persichilli said, compared the rest of the state, which is in “high COVID-19 activity.”
State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said one Vineland business was cited by the Alcoholic Beverage Control over the weekend.
He did not name the establishment.
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.
Murphy said officials are sending a letter to Emily Murphy, the administrator of the federal government’s General Services Administration, expressing concerns on vaccine distribution efforts due to the lack of transition coordination for president-elect Joe Biden.
“The time for politics is well passed,” he said. “The time for coming together to save lives is now.”
Also during the briefing, Murphy said officials are offering free, confidential support from NJ Mental Health Cares by calling 866-202-4357, text “NJHOPE” to 51684 or videophone 973-870-0677 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
“With everything we’ve endured this year, the stress of the holiday season may be too much for some to bear,” he said.
The next livestreamed briefing is scheduled for Friday.
State officials scheduled a 1 p.m. briefing Monday to update residents on the spread of COVID-19.
Appearing for the briefing will be Gov. Phil Murphy, Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, Department of Health Communicable Disease Service Medical Director Dr. Edward Lifshitz and State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.
In addition, at 7:08 a.m., Murphy is scheduled to appear live on “Good Morning America” on ABC to discuss the state’s response to the new coronavirus.
During an interview with on “Good Morning America” with George Stephanopolous, Gov. Phil Murphy said “some realities that are stark” amid rising COVID-19 cases.
He cited the colder weather, pandemic fatigue and transmission behind the doors of private homes.
“So, we’re pleading with people, keep Thanksgiving really small – immediate family, don’t travel and don’t let your guard down just ‘cause you’re at home,” Murphy said, saying the emphasis is on personal responsibility.
“Assuming we can do it safely and keep our case transmission as low at it has been, I hope we can keep schools open,” he continued, adding officials expect it to get worse before it gets better.
So far, Atlantic County has reported 8,391 cases with 270 deaths and 3,736 cleared as recovered. Cape May County has reported 2,499 cases with 100 deaths and 1,846 designated off quarantine. Cumberland County has reported 4,512 cases with 162 deaths.
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.