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'It Is A Tidal Wave': No New Restrictions In Pennsylvania, New Jersey Despite Coronavirus Cases Skyrocketing

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There are no new restrictions in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, even with coronavirus cases skyrocketing. Officials in both states say they're watching and waiting right now and they continue to stockpile equipment as they expect a difficult winter ahead.

Philadelphia has had a third straight day with over 300 new cases.

Around the region, the new cases aren't linked to schools, restaurants or businesses. It's more an issue with small gatherings that are difficult to regulate.

The surge of COVID-19 cases is spreading across the country now, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Modeling from the Policy Lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia projects steep increases in and around Philadelphia.

"It's going up and it's going to go up steeply in the next couple of weeks," said Dr. David Rubin, the director of Policy Lab at CHOP.

"This is a tidal wave?" asked CBS3 medical reporter Stephanie Stahl.

"It is," responded Rubin, "I mean, people need to understand."

Pennsylvania is again above 2,000 daily cases, but officials say no new restrictions are planned because treatments have improved and hospitals aren't currently overwhelmed.

"So, at this time, we have no further plans to expand into the red, yellow, green zones with that type of mitigation," Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.

But gathering limitations remain in effect in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"We have been seeing the number of new cases grow exponentially," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Murphy said that restaurants will remain in a "holding pattern," continuing to operate at 25% capacity. He added that it's the smaller home gatherings fueling the second wave.

There were 1,400 new cases in New Jersey, where there's now a 6.5% positivity rate. Most of the new cases are in North Jersey, linked to small gatherings, including weddings.

"We are all suffering from pandemic fatigue," Murphy said. "But this virus has been waiting for us to get lax in our personal responsibility so it could come roaring back. Please, folks, I urge you to get back to that level of vigilance that you showed six months ago."

While New Jersey's highest case counts remain in northern counties, South Jersey is far from immune.

"Today we had 111 new cases. Just three to four weeks ago we were averaging about 25 cases a day," Camden County Freeholder Louis Cappelli Jr. said.

In Camden County, officials are beginning to see COVID-19 numbers similar to the start of the pandemic.

"A lot of the people getting infected right now are a lot younger than those who were being infected back in April and March so they are not as sick," Cappelli said.

Hospitals are now more experienced and better-equipped, Cappelli says.

"I've spoken to our hospital systems, they are all very well prepared for this so we are very confident about that. In fact, they're stressing the fact that people who have other medical needs and need other treatments should continue to do so," Cappelli said.

Officials are renewing warnings about upcoming holidays and urging people to cancel get-togethers.

"That's a tremendous sacrifice that we're asking people to make but it is absolutely necessary at this challenging time," Levine said.

Both Levine and Murphy are urging people to answer the call from contact tracers. They're confidential, anonymous and officials say they could potentially save someone's life.

"If you test positive and a case investigator reaches out to you, please answer the call," Levine said.

Levine not only spoke to answering the call literally by phone but also the call to remain strict in social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing when around others.

CBS3's Stephanie Stahl and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.


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