Editor’s Note: On Friday, July 31, Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes sent the following update to the Mercer County community. In the aftermath of the poor statistics related to the spread of coronavirus cited last week, Governor Murphy on August 3 announced the re-implementation of tighter restrictions on indoor gatherings, including a reduction capping gatherings at 25 people or 25 percent of a room’s capacity, whichever is smaller.
Governor Murphy and the State Department of Health reported an alarming statistic related to COVID-19 this week. They announced on Wednesday that over the previous four days, New Jersey had seen 2,000 new positive test results, which put the state back to where it was a month ago in the daily number of new cases. That’s not progress.
State officials said they are worried about the increasing number of coronavirus cases being traced to indoor house parties. A large number of people gathering indoors – where public health experts agree the virus is more easily transmitted, and where it’s more difficult to social-distance – while not wearing face coverings is an obvious high-risk situation. The state health commissioner expressed particular concern about an increase in cases among 18- to 29-year-olds.
While none of the indoor gatherings they cited took place in Mercer County, it serves as a cautionary tale. The grip we’ve been able to get on COVID-19 is anything but firm. Lapses in judgment, such as congregating indoors without masks, can quickly undo the gains we’ve made in combating the virus since April. Regardless of how invincible individuals might feel, they have a personal responsibility to social-distance, wear a face covering and practice good hand hygiene to protect themselves and those around them, especially our most vulnerable populations. None of us can let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19. There is too much at stake.
The desire to socialize, to celebrate birthdays and graduations, and simply unwind after months of limited activity is to be expected, but we have to take precautions. Keep gatherings small and have them outside. If you can’t keep a safe distance, wear a mask. Make sure hand sanitizer is available. Be sensible and be supportive of one another. Let’s continue to work together.
Brian M. Hughes