What to Know
- The rate of young people testing positive for coronavirus has seen a dramatic increase across New Jersey, making up nearly a quarter of all June cases, state officials announced Tuesday.
- In April, this age group represented 12 percent of the cases. However, the rate risen to 22 percent of the cases in June.
- According to the health commissioner, more than 640 residents between the ages of 18 and 29 have been hospitalized because of complications from this virus and there have been more than 50 deaths among this age group.
The rate of young people testing positive for coronavirus has seen a dramatic increase across New Jersey, making up nearly a quarter of all June cases, state officials announced Tuesday.
"In New Jersey we have seen an increase in the percentage of cases between the ages of 18 and 29," the state's Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said during Gov. Phil Murphy's daily coronavirus briefing.
In April, this age group represented 12 percent of the cases. However, the rate risen to 22 percent of the cases in June.
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"While we know that some of this increase can be attributed to an increase in access to testing, we are still concerned about this trend," Persichilli said.
State officials are particularly concerned over gatherings in the Jersey Shore and in bars.
"Individuals were packed together at these locations which raises the risk of spreading COVID-19 to one another and then to a wider community," Persichilli said, reminding the public that "people of any age can get severe illness from COVID-19."
According to the health commissioner, more than 640 residents between the ages of 18 and 29 have been hospitalized because of complications from this virus and there have been more than 50 deaths among this age group.
"While they do represent a small percentage of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, this population can spread the virus to more vulnerable populations," Persichilli said. "So the fewer young persons who become infected, the lower risk to the older population. It certainly is the time for the younger generation to give back to everyone around them and to the older generations. We need all residents to continue to take precautions, not to just protect themselves but to protect all of us. Social distancing, wearing a mask, washing your hands, getting tested, these are life-saving measures."
A rise in the number of COVID-19 cases among young adults has been an emerging trend in numerous states. Florida, Texas and South Carolina have seen that more individuals under the age of 30 are testing positive. Many of these individuals have not had any symptoms so they are unaware that they are contributing to the spread of this virus, according to Persichilli.
This news comes the same day that Gov. Phil Murphy announced the next step in Phase II: reopening amusement and water parks, as well as playgounds, including on the Jersey Shore boardwalk ahead of the 4th of July holiday.
A day before, on Monday, Murphy warned New Jerseyans that he may have to hit pause on the current reopening plan if current health trends decline over the next week or so. If they hold, he said he'll be able to set a date soon for the start of Stage 3.
The very next day, spot positivity rates inched up, Murphy said Tuesday.
"We cannot have a one-day increase in our health metrics turn into a trend because people gave up on social distancing," the governor said. "I get that there is pent up emotion to get back outside. We all want to get out. There is no reason to be a knucklehead. Keep your distances. Wear your masks. Be smart and courteous – the world isn’t about you. Don’t be the knucklehead who ruins it for everyone else."
New Jersey is now in Stage 2. It took another big step this week, reopening pools, personal care services and non-contact organized sports. Murphy also raised the cap on outdoor gatherings to 250 and expects that limit to climb to 500 by the time socially distant graduations can resume in the state July 6. Indoor groups are now up to 25 percent capacity but can't exceed 100 people.
Right now, the plan is to reopen indoor shopping malls with limitations on June 29. Indoor dining can resume at 25 percent capacity (to start) on July 2. Casinos can also reopen that day with the same capacity limitations.