Thanksgiving weekend ended without a severe spike in new COVID-19 cases, but the extent of any holiday super-spreader events won’t be known for at least another two weeks.
Still, the Murphy administration is reducing the number of people who can gather outdoors from 150 people to 25. That goes into effect 6 a.m. Monday, Dec. 7. All indoor youth and adult sports, including practices and games, are being paused starting 6 a.m. Dec. 5 until Jan. 2. Health leaders cited 20 outbreaks and 100 cases tied solely to youth hockey and touted the revised guidelines as a way to curb the virus spread. There are a few carve outs; collegiate-level and professional sports teams can continue play. And outdoor gathering limits won’t apply to political activities, funerals, weddings or memorial services. The new rules put the state back on the same playing field as in May when the first wave of COVID-19 was raging.
Gov. Phil Murphy made the announcement at his coronavirus briefing with one member of the cabinet noticeably absent. The head of the Health Department, Commissioner Judy Persichilli, is quarantining after a member of her staff tested positive for the coronavirus.
Monday the state reported another 3,199 new cases and 15 confirmed deaths. The cumulative case total is now 337,304 with probable and confirmed fatalities at 16,993.