TRENTON, NJ — In his Monday press briefing Governor Phil Murphy pleaded with New Jersey’s youth and their parents to protect public health by not holding secret indoor parties and other large indoor gatherings.

“We have many examples of people congregating indoors without face coverings, without social distancing and in close proximity.  There is no good that will come from this,” Murphy said, noting this activity has led to outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus.

“Please, I’m asking parents and asking the kids themselves.  Be responsible in your own home,” he said. “It’s okay to gather, but gather outside and gather responsibly.”

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Murphy and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli acknowledged recent gatherings at homes in Middletown – the governor’s hometown – and on Long Beach Island at which young residents, teenagers and older, were the source of worrisome outbreaks at a moment when infection rates around the state have steadily decreased since their peak in April and remained low for several consecutive weeks.

Murphy and State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan also reported that approximately 700 people attended large house party in Jackson on Sunday night, with law enforcement officials spending five hours to clear it. Neighbors reported that party-goers spilled out of the house and into the streets.

In noting these rising gatherings among young people, Persichilli said that while generally younger individuals do not experience severe symptoms if they contract the virus, she admonished them “to take the disease seriously” because they can then spread the disease to more vulnerable populations.

This article was made possible by a grant from Googles Journalism Emergency Relief Fund.

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