With New Jersey reporting more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths on back-to-back days for the first time since spring, Gov. Phil Murphy is begging people to take warning and not hold large indoor Christmas and holiday season gatherings.
"Don't screw up Christmas… don't go big," Murphy said at his Wednesday news briefing.
In recent days, Murphy has urged people not to have a Christmas like normal and to limit large gatherings as COVID-19 spreads indoors and when people don't wear masks.
On Wednesday, Murphy reported coronavirus hospitalization, cases and death numbers he said weren't good and reiterated his fears of even more people becoming sick or dying from COVID-19.
There were 103 coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday, marking the first time since late May that the Garden state reported more than 100 daily deaths on consecutive days, Murphy said. Deaths are a lagging indicator and could remain high even if New Jersey's cases numbers decrease in the weeks to come.
New Jersey on Wednesday also reported more than 4,900 new cases. At least 3,800 people were hospitalized with nearly 800 patients in intensive care.
People in New Jersey continue to test positive for coronavirus at a high rate. The spot positivity as of Saturday was 12.97%. The rate of transmission was just under 1 (0.97).
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New Jersey has been hard hit with a second wave of the deadly virus. To date, more than 445,000 people in the Garden State have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. At least 16,418 people are confirmed to have died from complications related to COVID-19. Another nearly 2,000 deaths are presumed to be due to COVID-19.
Murphy hoped the large COVID-19 numbers would convince people to hold smaller Christer celebrations. He urged people who do gather with extended family for the holidays to only do so outside.
"We want everyone to enjoy their holiday, but to enjoy it responsibly," the first-term Democrat said.
The call to use caution over the holidays came as more frontline workers got initial doses of vaccines.
On Wednesday morning, Murphy, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli and other officials witnessed a drive-thru vaccination site where health care workers got initial doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Inoculations at long-term care facilities begin Monday, officials said.