UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey is taking more steps to slow down a second wave of coronavirus as we head into the holidays.
On Monday, the limit on outdoor gatherings was lowered from 500 people to 150.
This, as new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.
There were lines of cars at Kean University on Monday for a new drive-thru testing site where people can take one test for COVID-19, plus two flu strains. Because symptoms can often be the same, many people are preparing for the holidays by wanting to show a negative test before gathering with loved ones. Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday pleaded with residents to do Thanksgiving differently this year.
“Over 16,500 individuals who were alive last Thanksgiving are no longer with us. And that’s more than 16,500 families that will have that empty chair,” Murphy said.
Watch Gov. Murphy’s Press Conference:
Murphy said things are going to get worse before they get better as the country awaits a vaccine, but he worries about a lack of coordination at the federal level if the presidential transition does not start soon.
“Maintaining a supply chain that requires careful, cold storage and mobilizing resources for distribution, including potentially our National Guard, is not something we can leave to chance or which can wait until Jan. 20,” Murphy said.
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The state is ramping up testing to map out COVID-19 battle lines. Jessica Cohen is the director of testing operations in Union County, with the first-of-its-kind government-run 3-in-1 test.
“Because the symptoms are so closely synched that you can rule out, like if you don’t have COVID, what do you have? Urgent centers are being overwhelmed by so many people that are going for any kind of symptom, headache, because people are scared,” Cohen said.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka handed out turkeys ahead of the city’s 10-day stay-at-home order, which starts the day before Thanksgiving. Transmission rates are as high as 30% in some areas.
Neighboring Irvington issued a “slowdown” order, asking businesses to allow employees to work from home for 14 days and asked people to stay home.
“It’s very difficult to keep people from their loved ones,” Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss said.
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The Centers for Disease Control‘s advice to save lives is to host outdoors with masks on unless eating or drinking. If you must be indoors, state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli offered some further precautions.
“Increase the ventilation by opening the windows and the doors, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation,” Persichilli said.
Officials are warning people to take the burden of personal responsibility seriously, as we enter a vortex of cold weather, holidays and COVID fatigue.