LIVINGSTON, NJ — After seeing one or fewer new COVID-19 cases per day over the last several weeks—remaining steadily between 490 and 495 active cases between June 9 and July 1—Livingston’s total of active cases increased to 501 on Monday from 497 on reported on Sunday morning.

According to county data, the township has reported seven new cases since July 1, with the death count remaining at 68 since the start of the month. As of Monday morning, the Essex County total was 18,943 and the state total was 173,611, indicating respective increases of 169 and 1,944 since the end of June.   

This recent COVID-19 transmission flare-up could cause the State of New Jersey to remain in Stage 2 of its recovery plan longer than expected, according to Gov. Phil Murphy.

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During the state’s coronavirus press briefing on Monday, Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli announced that the rate of transmission or “Rt” is over 1.0 for the first time in 10 weeks. The last two days saw a Rt of 1.03—meaning every new additional positive COVID-19 case is leading to at least one more. 

The health department has also been made aware of multiple outbreaks stemming from nationwide “hot spots," including 12 of 13 new Hoboken cases tied to travelers from several states known to have severe spikes and several cases in North Jersey from attendees of a wedding in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“We're not going to be jumping the gun on a whole lot more opening-up steps right now,” said Murphy. “We are where we are now and my guess is we're going to be here for a bit. If we see these numbers, particularly the Rt go down again precipitously and the spot positivity rates stay down…that will allow us to take some steps that I don't think we feel comfortable taking today.”

Following 4th of July weekend, Murphy announced 216 new coronavirus cases and at least 20 new deaths, bringing the state's total to 15,229 deaths attributed to COVID-19. Of the fatalities announced, 13,373 are lab-confirmed and 1,856 are considered “probable.”

As far as those receiving treatment, there are now 861 hospitalizations, 187 patients in intensive/critical care and 152 people on ventilators.  

Monday marked the tail end of Stage 2, with the allowance of graduation ceremonies, reopening of in-person summer education, youth day camps and expanded NJ Transit and light rail service. 

According to the state’s website, "higher-contact activities restart with significant safeguarding" in Stage Three. However, a date has not been issued for this to take effect. 

Known locations to have seen significant jumps in their daily coronavirus outbreaks — leading in many instances to a pullback on reopenings include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah. Travel rules are in effect for anyone touching down at Garden State airports, as officials continue to stress the wearing of face masks and social distancing. 

“We know it is an inconvenience to separate yourself from others and to stay home for 14 days, but it is vital to break in the chain of transmission,” Persichilli said.

In addressing the expected interruption to its phased plan with a second wave coming, the governor said that the New Jersey Health Department and his office were aware of the risks of reopening, but noted that there is "a further element of risk associated with hotspots, which is "something that we weren't planning on a month ago."

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