NEW JERSEY - New Jersey is on the verge of returning to coronavirus-related closures and restrictions that residents were forced to follow in the spring as the latest data on cases is 'stark and sobering,' Gov. Phil Murphy warned on Thursday.
There was an increase of 10,472 cases of COVID-19 in the state between Monday and Thursday, putting state officials on alert. The state's positivity rate for tests on Nov. 8 was 12.02%.
There were 1,827 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state with 360 people in intensive care units- the highest number since June 12-- and 117 patients on ventilators-- the highest number since July 7.
"This thing is raging again," said Murphy during a briefing from Trenton.
There were 18 new, coronavirus-related deaths reported in New Jersey on Thursday.
"We have got to get back to using our common sense for the common good," said Murphy.
The governor signed an executive order giving towns and cities the option to limit hours at non-essential businesses after 8 p.m. His decision is a change from the spring when he ordered statewide closures and declined to adopt a regional approach.
Residents in Newark are facing a mandatory 9 p.m. weekday curfew and 10 p.m. weekend curfew for parts of three zip codes where virus cases have spiked recently. Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people, and all sports in the city are suspended for at least two weeks. The city also is banning visitation at long-term health care facilities for the same duration.
A new restriction across the state went into effect Thursday requiring restaurants, bars, clubs, and lounges to close at 10 p.m. and not open until 5 a.m. The governor also warned that the state could cut seating limits in restaurants from 25% to 10% if infection rates keep rising.
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Governor Murphy also issued a stark rebuke to critics of his repeated recommendation to wear masks.
"You know what's uncomfortable and annoying? When you die," he said.