There are unseasonably warmer days ahead, yet a seasonally chilling pandemic outlook looms.
The view is pretty clear from any perspective: With hopes for a promisingly 95 percent effective vaccine on the horizon (by Moderna and Pfizer pharmaceutical companies), extreme caution in light of upcoming social situations and holidays is a constant in NJ Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily briefings. With the colder weather, a second wave of COVID-19 is showing a spike in cases higher than the first. The key, the governor said, is to keep a hospitals as underwhelmed as possible.
He also noted “unseasonably warm weather” heading into the weekend as an opportunity to get out into the sun and fresh air. The forecast, according to the National Weather Service, is clear and sunny with a high of 60 degrees on Friday and partly cloudy with temperatures ranging from mid to high 50s through Sunday. Click here for more.
All that considered, the Navesink riverfront scene at Barnacle Bill’s, in socially-distanced person or not, is a slice of pandemic respite. (Click on one gallery image to enlarge and scroll. Enjoy!) The seagulls are still swooping in for a snack and lingering for some lounging and the scene. Who wouldn’t?
On Wednesday afternoon, while the governor commended New Jerseyans on their diligence in complying to once before “crush” the curve, he also cautioned that if that diligence isn’t applied again now, the picture will be grim for winter, something he said he would like to see avoided.
New Jerseyans, statistics show, have complied with masking, distancing, disinfecting and other pandemic safety precautions at a 50 percent rate, compared to a 30 percent national average, NJ Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli said on Wednesday.
As of today, Thursday, there were 4,320 new cases of COVID reported in New Jersey. The total number of current cases stands at 293,744 with 14,877 confirmed deaths, 1,812 probable.
With respect to schools, 56 outbreaks have been confirmed since the start of the school year. Locally, Red Bank Regional High School has shut its doors to any in-school instruction due to positive cases, not to resume until Dec. 4. Statewide, there have been 239 in-school transmission cases.
The governor has left the method of schooling, in-person, remote or a blend of the two, up to individual districts, citing that, considering, the number is relatively low. He said in light of rampant transmission prospects, he worries more about hockey and the record non-adherence to mask-wearing by both players and spectators, sports-related, after-game partying and related team-type huddling.
With indoor gatherings limited to 10 people (from the original 25) and college students headed home for the holiday, the governor is advising that if families and extended families gather for the holiday they consider who is attending and who’s at highest risk for transmission and/or fragile health. The bottom line: don’t gather if in doubt.
If you do, stay outdoors, if possible, and/or open windows and jack up heat if necessary. Ventilation is key. Mask and distance if not from the same household. Limit the size of the gathering and risks and avoid hugging, clinging, clamoring for football game bonding, shouting and, yes, singing, if that’s what you do at Thanksgiving. Oh, and use plastic utensils. All of these things keep the germs circulating. Better safe, countless health professionals advise.
The further recommendation of six governors in the area — New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts — is that students get tested before heading home for the holiday and abide by stringent health advisements. The advocacy is strong, but availability of tests for campuses remains to be seen.
And, with jokes and memes circulating via social media of the governor peering into people’s windows to check on the crowding situation, Murphy advised that people just clamp down and keep the gathering/partying situation risk-free or minimal. While enforcement is questionable, if there’s an obvious loud, out-of-hand gathering that poses risk, authorities are usually called. People tend to be watchdogs and police are called, he said.
He called on people to just take personal responsibility for the safety of themselves and others.
“There’s nothing like personal responsibility,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s up to us, folks.”
Despite some rumors, restaurants are still open for indoor dining, however, it is being done at 25 percent of restaurant capacity or no more than 25 people. There is no sitting at any bar allowed. Restaurants and related establishments must close by 10 p.m. Restaurants are allowed to set up domes outside with heaters. Can be closer than six feet apart if there are partitions.
None of the indoor dining rules apply to airports.
In the Rumson-Fair Haven area, the total cases have continued to climb. While in Monmouth County, as a whole, there were 287 new positive cases, more locally, the cumulative tallies were: Rumson, 133 (down three from the day before); Fair Haven, 100 (up three from yesterday); Sea Bright, 38 (up eight); Little Silver 116 (up five); Red Bank, 537 (up from 524).
Fair Haven Police Chief Joe McGovern sent a message out to residents earlier in the week, citing 87 confirmed cases with 13 presently active cases of COVID.
“We anticipate this number will fluctuate as more testing is being done,” the chief said, noting that “We must be mindful just like we were doing in the spring that we do everything we can to reduce this spread of COVID-19.
“This would include wearing a mask, keeping social distance, practicing good hygiene and limiting your exposure outside your normal acquaintances and family. Thanksgiving is coming up next week and as hard as it may be, we have to do everything we can to protect each other and our families …
“I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel with the promising news of a vaccine and if we all work together I am hoping we can have a fairly normal late spring and summer.
“I wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.”
On the subject of testing, Monmouth County officials announced today that “As part of the County’s COVID-19 Free Testing Program, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced that a testing site will be added to this upcoming week’s schedule at the Old Municipal Building, 316 Old Tavern Road in Howell, on Monday, Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon.
“The Freeholders also announced that the number of tests administered at each site will be increased from 150 to 200 tests beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 18 in Asbury Park.”
“The Board of Chosen Freeholders understands that the communities in Monmouth County require additional testing sites at this time,” Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said. “While getting tested is important, residents must also remember to practice social distancing, wear face coverings, wash their hands and stay home when they are sick.”