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Health Commissioner: N.J. Records 3,877 New Daily COVID-19 Cases, Highest Number Since April 24; Newark At 19% Positivity

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey saw yet another surge in coronavirus cases on Tuesday.

The state recorded its highest number since late April, when the pandemic was first out of control, CBS2's Nick Caloway reported.

The numbers are bad all over the state, especially in Essex County.

MORENew Jersey Gov. Murphy Announces Indoor Dining Restrictions; 'We Have To Shake Off The Pandemic Fatigue'

It appears that the second wave has arrived, and Caloway spoke to state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli about why the numbers are going up so fast.

"I can't tell you specifically what's driving up the numbers, except that this virus is an unrelenting enemy," Persichilli said.


Persichilli said people are letting their guard down and the virus is taking advantage. The state reported 3,877 new cases Tuesday, the highest daily total since April 24 and just 500 cases shy of the first peak, back on April 17.

"And I think that we're seeing just widespread disease progression. As we experienced the last time, the northern part of the state is getting hit pretty hard," Persichilli said.

Newark is being hit especially hard. The city has an alarming 19% test positivity rate and has enacted local restrictions to curb the spread.

Non-essential businesses must close at 8 p.m. each night, and in three zip codes, 07104, 07105, and 07107, there is a mandatory curfew in effect after 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. People should stay off the streets unless going to work or during an emergency.

Newark Police hit the streets of the city's busy Ironbound District to enforce the mayor's new restrictions Tuesday night as the infection rate in the East Ward soared to an astounding 32.5%, CBS2's Jessica Layton reports.

Watch Nick Caloway's report --

"We have to get this virus back under control," Mayor Ras Baraka said.

The mayor's new rules are more strict than the governor's.

"We need another remedy," he said. "Newark's prescription is not the state's prescription."

The overall rate in Newark is more than twice the state's average. Baraka blames illegal late-night parties and too many people still not wearing masks. He says even public transportation is a problem.

"The buses are too crowded. New Jersey Transit has to do better," Baraka said.

As cases go up, more people are ending up in hospitals with COVID-19. Dr. Dan Varga is Chief Physician Executive for Hackensack Meridian Health.

"Right around Labor Day or so we were probably around 50-ish, and we're at 325 now," Varga said of the daily hospitalization rate.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Gov. Phil Murphy has said he hopes to avoid state-wide lockdowns like we saw in the spring. On Monday, restaurants were told to close for indoor dining by 10 p.m. each night.

The health commissioner said regulations can only go so far and that much of this fight is up to us.

"And that means wearing your mask, socially distancing, washing your hands. If we did that, we wouldn't have to consider further, if you want to use the term, lockdowns or restrictions," Persichilli said.

The health commissioner told Caloway much of the spread is tied to private gatherings, where people are not wearing masks.

In fact, right now the state is tracing three outbreaks that started at Halloween parties.


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