TRENTON, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that he will sign an Executive Order giving municipalities and counties the option to regulate the operating hours of non-essential businesses after 8:00 p.m. He noted that often, as the night progresses, people let their guard down (when it comes to masks and social distancing),

“Our surgical approach empowers local officials to take actions to prevent localized hotspots from becoming COVID wildfires,” he said. “We are in the midst of a war... We are prepared to fight this second wave.”

The governor said he was empowering local officials to address local situations. However, he insisted that New Jersey “cannot have a patchwork of rules – especially in the densest state in America.” He believes that if different municipalities start implementing different rules widely, it would inspire people to travel to other municipalities and potentially help spread the virus.

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Latest COVID-19 numbers

Murphy today reported 3,517 new positive COVID-19 test results, bringing New Jersey’s cumulative total to 266,986. Alarmingly, the state has recorded 10,472 new cases since Monday. The statewide positivity rate for all tests recorded on Nov. 8 was 12.02%, while the statewide rate of transmission is currently 1.3.

“We’ve got 3,517 new positive coronavirus tests in New Jersey today; 12 out of every 100 people who get tested come up positive,” Murphy said. “Not too long ago, that rate was in the low single-digits.”

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reported during the briefing that recent gatherings, including Halloween parties were likely the cause of spikes in coronavirus numbers in Union, Gloucester, Somerset, Essex and Cumberland counties. Officials are concerned that large gatherings at Thanksgiving might also result in further spread of the disease.

Currently, there are 1,827 COVID patients in New Jersey hospitals – a number not reached since June 4. Of those patients, 360 patients are in ICUs (the highest number since June 13), and there are 117 ventilators in use – a number that had not been reached since July 7.

“Our numbers are stark and sobering, but they shouldn’t deter us from continuing to fight against this virus and our pandemic fatigue. Let’s keep at it,” Murphy said. “Thank you to the millions of New Jerseyans who are doing the right things to keep all of us moving forward.”

Schools will remain open

During the press conference, the governor dispelled “the irresponsible rumor that was spread on Twitter yesterday.”

“We are NOT closing our schools. There were 15 outbreaks confirmed over the past week, leading to 46 new infections and 192 total cases linked to 51 instances of in-school transmission,” he reported. “Our preparations to mitigate in-school spread are working.”

"The CDC has released new guidance on masks, based on new evidence – wearing a mask is a stronger measure of protection than previously thought, protecting both YOU and the people around you," Murphy said.

Thanksgiving approaches

With Thanksgiving only two weeks away, the governor is concerned about holiday gatherings.

“This is not the year for a large family gathering, with loved ones coming in from out-of-state, or for you to travel out-of-state,” he said. “We strongly urge you to have a smaller gathering with just your immediate family bubble.”

“We have to get back to the mindset that saw us crush the curve throughout the spring. We cannot be successful unless every New Jerseyan recognizes their responsibility in this fight. Social distance. Wear a mask. Wash your hands,” Murphy advised.