Gov. Murphy: Rise in NJ COVID-19 cases ‘setting off alarms’

The number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey are continuing to climb and are “setting off alarms,” according to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Murphy announced 699 new cases of coronavirus at a press conference on Friday, up from 261 on Thursday, and called out residents who have been not wearing masks in public and hosting indoor house parties.

“These numbers are setting off alarms,” Murphy said in a tweet. “The only way to silence these alarms is by taking this seriously. Wear a mask. Stop hosting house parties. Now.”

The state’s rate of transmission, which indicates the number of people an infected person passes the virus to, also climbed to 1.35 from 1.14.

"Even with the increases we’ve seen in the latest case numbers, New Jersey remains among the 10 states nationwide with the lowest number of active cases per capita," Murphy said.

There have been 181,660 COVID-19 cases in New Jersey so far. An additional 10 new deaths were reported as well, putting the state’s death toll at 13,944, with 1,875 deaths deemed likely from COVID-19. 

Despite those figures headed in the wrong direction, Murphy said the state's hospital reported zero COVID-19 deaths for the day ending 10 p.m. Thursday. That's the first time that's happened since March 10. 

Meanwhile, Airbnb said Friday it's cracking down on party houses throughout New Jersey, suspending or removing altogether 35 listings, after state health officials warned house parties led to clusters of COVID-19 outbreaks.

“We ban party houses and will not tolerate irresponsible behavior on our platform," Airbnb executive Chris Lehane said in a statement. “We know that there is still more work to be done, we ask that neighbors contact us as soon as possible through our Neighborhood Support Hotline, to directly communicate any concerns.”

Airbnb did not disclose the addresses of the 35 locations, but indicated they're across the state, including Jersey City and Newark in the north, as well as a number of shore towns like Asbury Park, Atlantic City and Ventnor, among others.

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