Omicron COVID Update: Near-Record COVID Case in NJ; Beginning of the mandate of the Newark masks

TRENTON, New Jersey (WABC) – COVID cases continue to skyrocket in Garden State with 6,840 new positive cases reported Tuesday – the sixth day in a row above 6,000 cases.

New Jersey has its highest number of COVID cases since last January, when the state peaked at just over 6,900 cases.

34 more COVID-related deaths were confirmed on Tuesday.

Over the past two weeks, the moving average number of new daily cases has increased by about 2,394, an increase of almost 66%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli told a press conference on Monday that the rise is likely due to the delta and omicron variants.

The increase in the number of cases is also having an impact on schools, with more than two dozen people across the state switching to virtual classrooms.

Gov. Phil Murphy said on Tuesday he hopes schools don’t have to go virtual next year and “we’ll do everything we can to stay in person.”

The “test-to-stay” program, which was just approved by the CDC, will begin to be implemented as a pilot program in New Jersey schools early next year, he added.

Demand for testing is driving long waits at places like Paramus, where people waited hours to get tested on Monday, with the site even turning people down three hours before closing time due to high demand.

Murphy says the state is trying to meet testing needs.

“We are dramatically increasing our rapid test capability statewide and people should go out and get a free rapid test if they are visiting other people,” he said. “To do this, we currently have over 100 free test sites statewide.”

READ ALSO | NYC omicron push to last “a matter of weeks,” mayor says

New Jersey’s largest city is requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public spaces as coronavirus cases increase.

Newark mayor Ras Baraka issued an executive order as the city’s positive cases rose to 11.89% based on a three-day moving average.

Baraka said if the city has more than 15% positivity for three consecutive days, it will require proof of vaccination to enter businesses.

“And I think it’s going to happen,” he said. “We’re going to put that in place. I’m going to sign an executive order, probably in the next few days, in a week or so, that will be implemented in Newark. Get ready, get ready.”

Baraka and Director of Public Safety Brian O’Hara also reinstated the mask mandate for all members of the Department of Public Safety, including Newark Police, firefighters and Emergency Management Office staff, with immediate effect.

“Our goal is to keep our residents and city employees safe in light of this recent spike in new COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant emergency,” Baraka said.

While people typically get together with family and friends during the holiday season, Baraka urges all residents and staff to take precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, advising regular vaccinations and testing.

As the warrants resume, places of worship are now wondering what they are doing in the run-up to Christmas.

“It is the oldest church in the city of Newark. The old first church founded the city of Newark. This church is 355 years old,” said Pastor Betty Tom, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church.

It is a church older than Newark itself. Rich in history. The benches have seen hundreds of years of an embracing community.

“These doors are open to whoever comes in. People from our community come in. Those who don’t have an address come in,” Tom said.

But it’s hard to kiss each other through a computer screen, so church leaders are debating what to do this weekend.

It produces a lot of anxiety.

“We’re wondering if we’re going to have the Christmas Eve candle light service because of what’s going on,” Tom said.


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