HOLMDEL, NJ - If you only read statewide headlines, you may think that the pandemic is raging as never before. Some headlines blare that second wave infection is raging like springtime. Thankfully, it isn't.

Governor Murphy has reported back to back reductions in a key metric, 'rate of transmission'. And there's more.

With social distancing, masks and hand washing ever important, as well as protection for the elderly and those with compromised health, two key metrics show a moderating second wave. One is the 'rate of transmission' and also the number of positive tests.

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With restaurants, gyms, salons and every other measure of businesses and schools open, Governor Murphy reported that the rate of transmission still dropped for several consecutive reporting days. On Sunday the rate was 1.4. Anything above 1.0 infers that the outbreak is continuing to expand. The next day it was 1.32. Meaning the rate of transmission dropped. On Tuesday, the rate of transmission has dropped again to 1.27.

Wednesday will show if this is a continuing positive trend.

Another common figure is the number of positive tests. The number of positive tests has made headlines with a statewide seven-day average of over 4,000. With so much of New Jersey now reopened, an increase was expected. This is especially so with schools, religious gatherings and other events going on.

A main driver of higher positive test volumes is simply the sheer number of tests performed. During the spring the number of tests done was around 12,000, according to the governor's office. The amount of testing has now nearly quadrupled to over 45,000. Add to this the new rapid tests now available and a perspective on the data is clear.

Also, according to the news released by the governor's office, there were 2,785 patients in hospitals combining both confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases. By comparison, about 8,000 were in the hospital in April with the state virtually shut down at the time. The difference between the dark days of spring and the second wave underway is pronounced.

Murphy continues to urge residents to be smart, practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands. He also advises against large gatherings. There were no new restrictions announced on Tuesday and, based on the current lowering trend on the rate of transmission, imminent release of vaccines and other therapeutics, it is unlikely to change.

What isn't changing is the importance of following CDC guidelines and being smart and safe as the nation awaits the vaccines, the end of the second wave and the defeat of COVID-19.