Murphy issued the statement during his latest coronavirus briefing, which was held online after Murphy went into quarantine due a potential exposure to the virus that has killed more than 16,300 people and infected more than 234,000 others in the state.
“(The figures) continue to show that the second wave of the coronavirus is no longer something off in the future,” governor said. “It is coming, and it is coming now.”
Murphy announced 1,477 more cases Thursday — the 12th straight day of more than 1,000 new positive tests — and eight additional deaths.
Hospitalizations are also up in the state. As of Wednesday evening, there were 1,072 COVID-19 patients across the state’s 71 hospitals — the second straight day of more than 1,000 patients. Of them, 846 are confirmed COVID-positive patients and 226 were persons under investigation.
Murphy, however, stressed New Jersey is better prepared to handle the second wave than it was for the first this spring, with more experience, greater hospital capacity, and a higher percentage of positive tests coming from younger — and less vulnerable — residents.
He also said the state is continuing to stock up on personal protective equipment and increase testing and contact tracing.
“Across the board, we have been aggressive in building our capabilities to fight the second wave that is now starting to crash on our shores,” the governor said. “All of us up here pledged we would not be caught unprepared when the second wave arrived. Well, it is here, and we are ready.”
Murphy urged people to focus on safety precautions to blunt the growing spread of the virus here and nationally.
“We are now urging you to double-down on the practices that helped us flatten the curve in the first place last spring and throughout the summer — social distancing, washing your hands frequently with soap and water or using high-alcohol hand sanitizers, and, critically, wearing a mask,” Murphy said.
“After eight months, I understand, we understand, that we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue,” he added. “But this virus has been waiting for us to get lax in our personal responsibilities so it can come roaring back.”
Small gatherings in private homes are largely to blame for most of the new outbreaks, Murphy said.
The bulk of the newest cases were reported in Essex County, where non-essential businesses of the state’s largest city, Newark, are under a mandatory curfew. Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Passaic and Union counties also each recorded more than 100 additional cases, Murphy said.
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