With coronavirus vaccines being administered in New Jersey and the Christmas holiday approaching, New Jersey officials are urging people to not let their guards down when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19.
New Jersey reported more than 9,000 new coronavirus cases and at least 70 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 over the weekend as the virus continues to spread during its second wave. With more than 3,100 new cases announced Monday, the statewide total since the start of the pandemic near 436,000. Confirmed deaths stood at at 16,315, with 29 new deaths reported Monday.
The rate of transmission (0.99) was below 1, while the spot positivity was at 10.78 as of Thursday the southern part of New Jersey reported the highest rate of positivity.
As of Monday, more than 3,600 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, with more than 700 in intensive care.
Gov. Phil Murphy and state health officials spoke at a Monday afternoon news conference.
Doses of the Moderna vaccine on Monday joined the Pfizer vaccine as first steps toward getting New Jerseyans vaccinated against the deadly virus. But Murphy has continued to urge people to not let up on social distancing and masking.
"Stay safe," he tweeted Sunday. "This pandemic is far from over. Social distance. Mask up."
On Monday, Murphy urged people to avoid large Christmas gatherings after the state showed an increase in cases after Thanksgiving.
"This is the year for a small Christmas with those in your immediate family bubble," he said. "If you insist on a big gathering this year, you’re taking a real risk that when next Christmas comes, there will be fewer loved ones gathered around your tree."
Judith Persichilli, on Monday, laid out the plans to get staff and residents at long-term care facilities and nursing homes vaccinated against the virus that spreads quickly in congregant living situations. She said the coming federal allotments of vaccine will go to get those people inoculated.
Long-term care facility vaccinations will begin Monday, Murphy said. He noted that dozens of other states will begin vaccinations next week.
On Monday, the first-term Democrat took the procedural move of extending the public health emergency another 30 days.
"Unless extended, these emergencies expire after 30 days," Murphy said. "Given where we are currently, we must remain in a proper footing to continue responding to this pandemic."
Murphy also announced an executive order that pushes all special elections to April 20 so they coincide with normal school board elections.