TRENTON, NJ  — New Jersey’s medical director on Thursday set the record straight on the newly-arrived trend of donning a face mask as means of COVID-19 protection but not including one’s nose — known as “mask droop syndrome.”

“We understand that it’s uncomfortable, that people have problems with glasses fogging up [and] that it is difficult to see your feet and you have to worry about tripping over things and that sort of issue and it’s not easy,” said Edward Lifshitz, who heads NJ’s health department’s communicable disease service, during the state’s daily press briefing in Trenton. “But if you’re not covering your nose…your expelling particles through your nose, so it’s not doing everything you should be doing.”

As the Garden State heads toward it’s reopening, Lifshitz and Gov. Phil Murphy said it is imperative that residents not only wear face masks while outdoors but have them cup their chins and cover their noses in the process.

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The heed to take further precautions came as the state announced 66 additional coronavirus-linked deaths (total of 11,401) and 1,261 additional positive cases (total of 157,815).

The state's dashboard provides a further breakdown of the new cases and hospital census. 

While the number of positive cases has increased, Murphy said, so has New Jersey's capacity to test. New Jersey holds the third spot nationwide per 100,000 population capita as far as testing. 

As the conference got underway Murphy said testing in the state — where over 685,000 have been screened — “has exploded.”

As of Friday, there will be 208 testing sites open across the state.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli also confirmed that 2,797 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 as of 10 p.m. Wednesday — the second minor increase since Tuesday. 

“For everybody that says open the thing up tomorrow, let’s get all the lights on, let’s get back to normal, you got 365 folks going into the hospital yesterday," Murphy said. "We have got to make sure we’re watching this like a hawk."

The governor said the state health department will be looking for any correlation between the hospitalization increase and this past weekend — considering both Memorial Day and any reporting lags. 

Overall, hospitalizations have seen a 65% decrease since the state's peak of 8,084 on April 14. 

Of the new hospitalizations, 740 individuals were in critical or intensive care, and 564 required ventilators. 

Murphy highlighted hallmarks like the statewide positive rate (6%), the decrease of people in the ICU and the rise of discharges.

While he said more announcements regarding opening are expected Friday — potentially touching on more businesses re-opening, summer camps and swimming pools — the state has been extra-prudent in its plans. 

“We’ve been on a one-way street…we don’t want to have to turn the car around," he said. 

Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver is scheduled to join Murphy during Fridays' press briefing at 1 p.m.

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