Thirteen of New Jersey’s 21 counties have seen the coronavirus spread in the past week, including Ocean County, which has led the state in the growth of the disease.
Ocean County added 9.1 new infections per 10,000 residents from September 16 to September 23, a 52% increase from the previous week. It was followed by Gloucester County with 7.3 new infections per 10,000 people and Monmouth County with 5.1 new infections per 10,000 people.
The three counties recently saw a cluster of new cases, and all three were highlighted Friday by Governor Phil Murphy and his administration as potential hotspots the state was monitoring. This is because New Jersey remains on a better basis than the United States as a whole, with the state registering 3.6 new cases per 1
“It is fair to say that we have some counties that are increasing to a level of concern,” Murphy said at a news conference, notably pointing to Ocean County, where the state has sent additional contact tracers and another 6,000 coronavirus test kits. .
“This is clear evidence that we’re not out of the woods yet,” Murphy said.
State officials have complained that house parties in Monmouth County spurred the spread of the virus there. Ocean and Gloucester recently found coronavirus positivity rates that, if they were a state, would put travelers from them on the New Jersey 14-day quarantine list.
New Jersey has gradually reopened since it was devastated this spring when the pandemic first hit the country. More than 16,000 New Jersey residents are believed to have died in the outbreak, with deaths peaking in April and now regularly in single figures every day.
However, the disease is spreading to New Jersey. The week’s figures were a 12% increase in new infections from the previous week, with only eight counties experiencing a decline in the number of new cases.
They included Gloucester, which had an even higher rate of new infections earlier this month, when it added 9.7 cases per 10,000 people from September 9 to September 16. The others were Hunterdon, Cape May, Mercer, Somerset, Passaic, Middlesex and Salem.
With the counties of Monmouth and Gloucester, state officials have pointed to social gatherings as the engine of the new workload, with Gloucester tied to on-campus and off-campus student housing at Rowan University.
In Ocean County, cases have increased from 100 to 150 per day, and at least half of those are in Lakewood, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
Lakewood is the largest municipality in the county and is home to a sizable Orthodox Jewish community that is now observing the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Its public school system is also among those in New Jersey that have resumed full-time classroom teaching.
On Friday, Murphy said he was sure there was “some connection” between the increase in cases and religious worship, even though he opposed those who would draw prejudicial conclusions.
“I don’t want anyone, I don’t want a speck of anyone, in this state that says, ‘Hey, it’s because of them’ or whatever,” Murphy said.
The state has already sent additional contact detectors to Ocean County, and Persichilli said more will be deployed next week. He commended the collaboration of religious leaders and the Lakewood community, saying he had just received a phone call asking, “What else can we do?” and “How can we cooperate?”
“They are as interested as anyone else in protecting the community they serve,” Persichilli said.
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Riley Yates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.