Transmission rate ‘setting off alarms’

Sussex County. After a June lull, coronavirus cases are creeping up again in Sussex County, while statewide numbers are starting to take off. Two New Jersey lawmakers want to make it a petty disorderly persons offense if people fail to wear masks in stores.

03 Aug 2020 | 04:10

After a June lull, coronavirus cases are creeping up again in Sussex County, even as the number of deaths has flatted (see chart).

Statewide, the coronavirus caseload and the rate of transmission have climbed higher and are “setting off alarms,’’ Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said.

There were 699 new positive cases reported in New Jersey on July 31, up from 261 on July 30, Murphy said. The rate of transmission, which indicates the number of people an infected person passes the virus to, climbed to 1.35 from 1.14.

“The numbers are setting off alarms that we take very seriously,” Murphy said.

Murphy didn’t announce any rollback to the second of three stages of reopening, but he said the administration wouldn’t “sit and take it much longer.”

The total number of positive cases stands at nearly 182,000. There were 10 new deaths reported overnight, putting the death toll at 13,944, with 1,875 fatalities 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.

Murphy called it an “extraordinary milestone.”

Mask law?

Two New Jersey lawmakers want to make it a petty disorderly persons offense if people fail to wear masks in stores.

Democratic Assemblyman Valerie Vainieri Huttle and Ralph Caputo have introduced legislation creating such an offense if the store has signs indicating masks are required.

Murphy’s executive order already requires masks to be worn in stores.