Gov. Murphy: Tighter COVID-19 restrictions are possible, but no decisions have been made
New Jersey has seen its fifth straight day of positive COVID-19 cases over 6,000. The state reported more than 6,500 positive cases on Monday. If New Jersey reports another 6,000 cases on Tuesday, it will mark the worst seven days of the pandemic.
As statewide hospitalizations approach 2,000, they are hitting levels not seen in nearly a year but that still fall short of the worst of the pandemic in 2020.
Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday that new pandemic restrictions are possible, but he is not ordering any just yet.
“We’re trying like heck to meet the moment, and try not to either overshoot or undershoot,” Murphy said.
As long lines are forming at COVID-19 testing centers ahead of Christmas, Murphy and state health officials say that they are monitoring the situation.
“If a life is at stake, we’re going to be in the ‘better be safe than sorry’ category,” the governor said.
Murphy mentioned the possibility of going back to indoor capacity limits at bars and restaurants. It is unclear if he will make any changes to the current rules.
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“We are seeing significant increase in cases right now. Yesterday we had the highest number of positive PCR cases - 6,533 - that we have seen since January of 2021,” said state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
Health officials say that there have not been many cases of the omicron variant of the virus in New Jersey.
“About less than 1% of our variants that we've sequenced to date are omicron,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Christina Tan.
Health officials say that although hospitalizations have increased over the last five days, they're still less than a quarter of what they were during the peak of COVID-19’s first wave in April 2020.
“Trend of testing is up…And we are getting more capacity to meet that demand as we speak,” Murphy said.
Over 100 free testing sites in the state and an at-home PCR saliva test from Vault Medical Services are available. The Vault test is available for free through the state Department of Health for anyone who needs it. They can be shipped to your home via UPS.