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large beach crowds
COURTESY STATE OF NEW JERSEY Gov. Phil Murphy speaks during a July 13 press briefing in Trenton.

By ERIN ROLL
roll@montclairlocal.news

New Jersey health officials continue to be concerned about large crowds at beaches and other summer destinations, as other states continue to deal with increases in COVID-19 cases. 

With fewer residents traveling out of New Jersey for summer vacation, more families are going to in-state destinations such as the shore or the lakes, which in turn leads to more crowded conditions, said Gov. Phil Murphy. 

State officials are working with shore counties and municipalities on guidance on how to reduce crowds at beaches, including limiting the number of day passes or similar methods. 

New Jersey has been ranked one of three states, in addition to Vermont and New Hampshire, that are on track to contain COVID-19. However, New Jersey currently ranks third in the number of deaths per capita reported a day. 

Murphy said that New Jersey health officials are continuing to monitor COVID-19 spikes experienced in other states. 

Ed Lifshitz, the state’s communicable disease service director, concurred that New Jersey has seen increased cases associated with indoor parties, such as graduation parties, and travelers from out of state. 

As of July 7, there were 19 states on the quarantine list, with Delaware, Kansas and Oklahoma being added to the list that day. Travelers coming to New Jersey from those states are asked to get tested as soon as possible, and to self-quarantine for two weeks while awaiting test results. 

State health officials also continue to be concerned about increases in COVID-19 cases among young people. 

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said 22 percent of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey were in young people aged 18-29 in June, up from the 12 percent in April. 

Regarding the possible reopening of schools in September, Murphy said the Department of Education and the Department of Health are issuing guidance for schools on reopening. He also reiterated that there is no one-size-fits-all reopening plan for every district. 

Murphy acknowledged that teachers are concerned about the safety of reopening, and he said that educators had the right to feel confident about their safety before opening.

“We’re not going to be beaten or bludgeoned into doing this,” Murphy said. “We’re going to do this right, and we’re going to do this responsibly.” 

NJ Transit

Murphy announced an executive order lifting the 50 percent capacity limit on buses, trains, light rail and other forms of transportation, both for NJ Transit and for private carriers. 

As more people begin to return to work, ridership has been going up to the point that rider capacity either meets or exceeds the 50 percent capacity in some cases, he said. 

However, NJ Transit’s ridership is still down by 80 percent. 

Riders are urged to wear masks and maintain social distancing as much as possible. Masks and social distancing will also continue to be required in stations and other transit facilities. 

Murphy said that in a perfect world, there would be more tunnels under the Hudson River and more trains running, and he reiterated that the Gateway Project needs to be fast-tracked by the federal government. 

Today’s numbers

New Jersey health officials reported 231 new COVID positive cases on Monday, down from 367 cases on Friday, July 10, bringing the state total to 175,522. The spot positivity rate was 1.51 percent for tests conducted on July 9, down from 2.3 percent on July 6. After uptick last week, the rate of transmission has declined from 0.98 on Friday to 0.91 on Monday. 

Health officials reported 22 new COVID-related deaths, down from 31 reported on Friday. The death toll now stands at 15,560 total deaths with 13,613 confirmed and 1,947 probable deaths. 

As of Sunday night, hospitals reported 892 COVID patients, including 166 critical care patients and 81 ventilators in use, compared to 904 patients, 164 critical care patients and 94 ventilators as of Thursday night. 

Health officials reported two new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, bringing the total number of cases to 53. No deaths have occurred as a result of the condition. 

Essex County health officials revised the total number of cases down from 19,058 on July 12 to 19,045 on July 13. The total number of deaths was also revised downward, from 1,820 to 1,819. 

Montclair health officials reported a total of 462 COVID cases as of July 13, an increase of one case on July 9, but 17 new cases since July 1. The number of township residents who have not survived the illness is now 54, with one additional death being reported since July 9. 

Due to the large demand for testing by Montclair residents,  an additional day for FREE COVID-19 and antibody testing is now being offered in addition to Tuesday, Tuesday, July 14. Tests will also be administered Wednesday, July 15, from 12 -7 p.m. at the Wally Choice Community Center, Glenfield Park, 49 Maple Ave.

Pre-registration is requested, register now.