Gov. Murphy recommends all gatherings of more than 250 people be canceled amid coronavirus outbreak

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Gov. Phil Murphy is recommending that all gatherings of more than 250 people be canceled, as state health officials announced six new cases of coronavirus Thursday.

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The recommendation comes just a day after restrictions were put in place on visits to assisted living facilities and pediatric care centers, and it applies to both public and private gatherings.

Murphy says events, such as parades, concerts and sporting events all should be canceled, and that "social distancing" is the best chance to reduce exposure.

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But Murphy reiterates residents should remain calm.

"Again, there's still no need to panic, but we've got to be smart about getting out ahead of this," says Murphy. “It's our best chance to do, as they say, flatten the curve, to mitigate the chance of rapid spread and so we can respond to this public health emergency in an even more focused manner."

For any events that do still take place, the governor recommends everyone continue to practice good hygiene.

Murphy's message came as state health officials announced six new cases of coronavirus, and among them, the state's youngest case -- a 16-year-old from Englewood.

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Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli says the increasing cases will continue to dictate the state’s response.

"We’re in this exactly one week,” says Persichilli. “One week ago we had one case, and now we have 29. The trajectory alone, looking at that, in relation to the trajectory of what has happened in other states, I think is the motivating factor for us to step back and say what further mitigation strategies should we undertake?"

Murphy’s statement indicates that he recommends large gatherings be cancelled, not that he orders it.

But under the state of emergency declaration, law enforcement does have the authority to prevent or end large gatherings, but they are reserving the right to do so for now.

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