New Jersey is “open for business” on Halloween and likely will remain so through the next holiday season, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday, assuming people use “common sense” to protect their families from COVID-19 .
“The key will be how people behave when they’re inside,” Murphy said during his regular pandemic briefing. The danger of contracting COVID-19 “will not be door-to-door, trick-or-treat,” he said. “It’ll be party in someone’s basement.” Or the dinner table.
Nearly 1.2 million New Jerseyans have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic hit the state in March 2020, but the number of new cases detected daily has generally been trending down for months and has fallen by 14% between Sunday and Monday, according to NJ Spotlight News continues to analyze state data. At the end of September, hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 had also started to decline; the rate of viral spread, known as RT and a key indicator of how fast the virus is moving across the community, has been slowing since July.
Despite these trends, Murphy noted that as the weather gets colder, people will spend more time indoors, increasing the risk of infection. Additionally, the highly transmissible delta variant remains the dominant coronavirus strain in New Jersey. The series of religious and cultural holidays that run from late October through New Years, drawing families and friends closer to celebrate, increases the risk of the virus spreading, he said.
But the governor didn’t stop when asked how families should approach the upcoming holiday season. “We were open for business on Halloween last year and will be open for business this Halloween. I’m just asking everyone to be safe and smart and do the right thing, ”Murphy said, noting that the relatively widespread use of COVID-19 vaccines also makes this year a safer outlook.
Around the same time last year, the daily number of COVID-19 cases was almost 75% lower than the 1,111 new diagnoses reported by the state on Monday. But that number of cases was starting to increase dramatically, eventually peaking at nearly 7,000 new cases in mid-January, according to state data. Hospitalizations, also slightly lower at this point in 2020, were also on the rise; nearly 4,000 beds would be occupied by COVID-19 patients before the end of the year.
State officials at the time blamed pandemic fatigue – mask wear, social distancing and isolation – and, armed with predictive models, warned New Jersey to exercise caution during the holiday season. Many communities canceled traditional Halloween events and house parties last year; Trick-or-treat, where allowed, was changed to ensure costumes included masks and candy was dispensed in unique wrappers, not from a common bowl. On Thanksgiving, families were warned to avoid large gatherings, hugs, and shouting or singing, activities that can easily spread an airborne virus.
This year in New Jersey, COVID-19 measures are moving in a more positive direction. But as a growing number of people are already booking vacation plans, Dr.Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief pandemic adviser, has warned Americans to think carefully about group gatherings in the weeks and months to come. to come. If you’re indoors, use a fan or open windows to keep the air moving, he said on Sunday, and stay outside if possible.
Murphy conceded he was “a little mystified” by the advice when asked about it on Monday. “We’re going to be draconian (with public health measures) if we think we have to be draconian,” he said. “We lose credibility if we are seen as draconian when it defies common sense altogether. And I hope we never cross that line.
If friends and family are all vaccinated, Murphy suggested they could safely gather as a group – and extra ventilation and wearing a mask could further reduce the risk of infection. Nearly 5.9 million New Jerseyans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, more than 75% of those currently eligible. More than 84% of eligible residents received at least one dose, he said.
Murphy and state health commissioner Judy Persichilli also highlighted federal guidelines for pregnant women to get vaccinated; Persichilli noted that pregnant women with symptoms of COVID-19 are twice as likely to end up in intensive care on a ventilator – and 70% more likely to die from the disease – than those who are not pregnant. They also risk stillbirth, preterm delivery and other complications, she said.
However, only 31% of currently pregnant women have been vaccinated, according to federal data, but protection varies widely by racial group. Almost 46% of pregnant Asians have been vaccinated, she said, while only 25% of pregnant blacks have been vaccinated.
“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years of age and older,” said Persichilli, including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or looking to conceive now or in the future. “There is no evidence to suggest that fertility problems are a side effect of any COVID-19 vaccine. “