We were warned of a 2nd wave, so why are COVID-19 cases rising in New Jersey?
New Jersey health officials have been warning residents of the Garden State for months that a second wave of COVID-19 infections could be coming in the fall. So, despite the warning, why are cases once again on the rise?
Some health experts say that people have changed their habits from the spring and summer when the pandemic was in full swing, back when everyone was very careful about washing their hands and wearing their masks. And some say that to get back to lower infection levels, people may have to sacrifices some of their traditions.
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New Jersey reported 3,078 new cases of the virus on Wednesday. Days with over 3,000 new infections is becoming the norm. There were 15 additional deaths and over 1,800 people hospitalized.
"I think bringing people together is a risk factor,” says Dr. Reynold Panettieri with Rutgers University. "When we were outside, social distancing was quite easy. In cold weather, the return of children to school and college students, social distancing becomes much more challenging."
The rise in cases has prompted some new restrictions at bars and restaurants around the state. Newark officials have issued a curfew to keep people from spreading the virus. Some schools, such as Clifton and Nutley, are keeping students out of the classroom after the holidays. In Woodbridge, three high schools are fully remote. But the superintendent has clarified that it is not due to a rash of cases in the buildings, but rather a staffing issue due to quarantining.
Any true return to normalcy seems to hinge on a vaccine. That may not come until May or June. So how do New Jerseyans combat the virus? Panettieri says people need to sacrifice time together during the upcoming holidays.
“It's an important time but so is a pandemic,” he says. “Truth be told here, there can be other Christmases if you're still alive."
Panettieri says that he is optimistic there could be a vaccine available by spring.