New Jersey leads nation in COVID-19 infection rates despite vaccination efforts

New Jersey leads the nation in COVID-19 infection rates despite vaccination efforts.
Health officials say that this can be attributed to New Jersey’s dense population, the colder weather keeping people indoors and people letting their guard down because of so-called “COVID fatigue.”
New Jersey has been reporting about 647 new cases for every 100,000 residents over the past 14 days.
The state recently moved to allow the state’s restaurants and other indoor businesses to operate at 50% capacity.
Fiesta Banquet Hall in Wood-Ridge is starting to rebuild some of its momentum now with the expanded restrictions. Keith Rado says that the vaccines are starting to have an impact.
“We were doing like 20-25 parties a week, let’s say on a busy month. Then we’re only doing one or two a week…and now it’s’ like eight or nine…but the size of the parties are still small, but they’re slowly increasing,” Rado says.
With Passover and Holy Week, New Jerseyans just want to get together once again.
“Clubs are starting to receive more people. We get calls from neighbors going, ‘I saw someone go in without a mask. I saw 10 people coming out late at night,’” says Passaic Mayor Hector Lora.
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Lora says that of his 70,000 residents, most are following guidelines. But he admits that many are frustrated with the pandemic and are tired of keeping up with the virus.
“The specific directives may feel arbitrary. You can take off the mask if you’re in a room with people who have taken the vaccines and your family members and you live together and you date someone,” he says.
Large parties may be among the last to fully return. Rado says that he understands the restrictions.
“Some people won’t come because they’re not comfortable. Some people that are vaccinated, a lot of weddings are mandatory getting vaccinated for bridal parties,” he says.
Gov. Phil Murphy said in recent days that he is hitting pause on further loosening of the rules because of New Jersey's resurgence.
New Jersey hospitals are reporting about 2,200 virus patients — up by roughly 300 in the past couple of weeks. But they are still not as high as they were earlier in the year.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.