Coronavirus transmission rates up in New Jersey as clusters form

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The rate of transmission of COVID-19 in New Jersey has exceeded 1.0 for the first time in a month and a half, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday.

That’s the average number of people infected by each infectious person.

The Democratic governor said there were several outbreaks across the state that officials found to be directly tied to travel to other hotspots, including several cases linked to people who attended a wedding in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Visitors to New Jersey from South Carolina and 15 other states were asked last month to self-quarantine for two weeks.

New Jersey Transit on Monday resumed full rail and light rail service after a break because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also back Monday were youth day camps, in-person summer school and school graduation ceremonies, capped at 500 people and required to be outside.

Murphy had earlier announced the reopening as part of Stage 2, of three. Before the Fourth of July holiday, nearly a dozen different sectors reopened, though with limited capacity. They include: amusement parks, aquariums, boardwalk arcades, bowling alleys, casinos, libraries and museums.

Rail riders and NJ Transit workers must wear masks under the governor’s reopening mandate.

The governor said Monday he thinks further openings could be put on hold given the rise in the transmission rate, though he said he would continue to watch the trends, noting a single day wasn't enough to decide on.

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New Jersey’s coronavirus trends have continued to head in the right direction, while other states are seeing cases spike again.

Twenty more deaths were announced, increasing the statewide total to more than 13,300. More than 200 positive cases were reported, bringing the total amount of cases to about 173,600.

Murphy, who has been holding daily virus press conferences Monday through Friday since mid-March said that starting this week, they will only be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.