Why Murphy is worried about big, maskless crowds at beaches
While many other parts of the country are seeing big COVID-19 spikes, all of New Jersey’s coronavirus metrics remain quite favorable.
It's even seen the one metric that had Gov. Phil Murphy worried a week ago — the rate of transmission — start to dip again.
Hospitalizations, infection rates and the percentage of positive cases all continue on a downward trend. Nevertheless there is growing concern among state officials about the lack of social distancing and people walking around without masks down the shore, on boardwalks and beaches.
For a short while on Sunday, several shore towns including Long Branch and Belmar temporarily closed beach access because crowds had gotten so big.
During his COVID-19 update on Monday, Murphy said generally speaking, compliance with the state's limits on crowd sizes and its mask requirements has has been good. But he’s discussed the situation with officials in Long Branch, Point Pleasant Beach, Neptune City and other shore towns, and county leaders where crowds have been swelling.
He stressed the importance of staying 6 feet apart and masking up, even outdoors. New Jersey now requires masks for any public situation — indoors or out — where it's not possible to keep distance.
“We have it in our power folks, all 9 million of us to defeat this virus, and you have been by the way extraordinary," Murphy said. "We need to keep it up. we must wear the face coverings and maintain our social distances.”
Murphy said that means wearing masks "even when these muggy July days make it uncomfortable.
"Frankly, I don’t like it anymore than you do, but we have to," he said.
He noted because the pandemic is continuing there is not a lot of out-of-state vacationing right now. But that means the beach is a particularly attractive option for many — and that presents capacity issues.
He said local officials in shore communities up and down the coast are aware of this and have been working to make sure everyone continues to social distance, but Jersey residents must not forget COVID-19 is still in our midst.
“Even though we feel perfectly fine, don’t be a spreader,” he said.
The governor added keeping crowds under control in different shore communities will continue to be left up to municipal and county officials, but everyone who heads down the shore needs to do their part, he said.
"Keep up the great extraordinary work," Murphy said, his eyes locked on the camera that streams his daily updates to the public. "We’re all in this together, let’s keep up the fight.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
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