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Health Officials: COVID-19 Cases In N.J. Double In 1 Day; Paterson Adds Mobile Testing Sites, Hoboken Begins Indoor Mask Mandate

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- As COVID-19 cases rise in New Jersey, elected officials across the state are taking new action.

State health officials said 20,483 new positive PCR tests were reported in New Jersey on Wednesday. That's nearly double the numbers from Tuesday.

Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh held a news conference announcing he has adding four new mobile testing sites because of long lines all over the city.

"I'm already late," resident Oscar Venegas told CBS2's Leah Mishkin.

READ MORENew Mandates In New Jersey To Help Stop COVID Spread

Venegas said he had been waiting three hours to get a test at the only drive-thru site in the city.

"That's why I came at 6 in the morning, to be at the job before 8 a.m. But I called them already to say I'm gonna be late," Venegas said.

Resident Angela McClendon is a social worker. She was getting a COVID test at the Division of Health out of a precaution to keep her clients safe.

"It's so contagious," McClendon said.

Sayegh said he knows the frustration people in his city are feeling. That's why he's adding the additional mobile testing sites. They'll go to locations with long lines to help alleviate the situation.

"Thanksgiving, we had Christmas, and now we have New Year's coming up, so everybody wants to play it safe and they should," Sayegh said.

COVID VACCINE

The mayor said daily infection rates are on the rise, as cases in Paterson have doubled in the past few days. There were 600 new cases reported Tuesday.

"Our vaccination rate is 98%. That's gotta be working on people. It'll make it less severe," Sayegh said.

READ MOREPaterson, N.J. To Ramp Up Vaccinations Over The Holidays Through Use Of Mobile Unit

Still, the mayor isn't taking any chances. He put a new mask mandate in place this week, requiring anyone inside a city-owned or operated building to wear one.

"I think they're good to keep people safe. I don't mind them. I know that it's for the better of society, so it's OK for me, but I know some people are not happy about it. But we gotta keep people safe," Jersey City resident Julie Heyboer said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Hoboken officials are also requiring masks indoors now at all commercial and public buildings. Face coverings can only come down if people are eating or drinking.

One resident waiting in line at a CityMD to get tested welcomed the tighter rules.

"Cases are surging. Mask mandate is for public health. I'm for it," he said.

READ MORENewark, Bergen County Among New Jersey Locales Stepping Up Their Effort Against Omicron

CityMD announced it was closing five testing sites in New Jersey. The company said it is being done to "preserve our ability to staff our sites," since they're operating at full capacity.

An executive order in Newark will require proof of vaccination for public New Year's Eve events Friday. By Jan. 10, anyone entering most indoor businesses must show proof of at least one dose, and then be fully vaccinated three weeks later.

The state Department of Health announced it's updating its guidelines to reflect changes made by the Centers for Disease Control. If you test positive for COVID but have no symptoms, you now can isolate for five days instead of 10. And then you have to wear a mask for the following five days around other people.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin contributed to this report.

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