TRENTON, NJ — State and county parks are closing to help contain the spread of coronavirus, under one of a handful of executive orders the governor signed Tuesday.
Gov. Phil Murphy ordered that the parks be closed to help with enforcement of social distancing. Authorities have found too many times that people are wrongly gathering in parks, Murphy said.
“We understand that staying at home is hard and we get that you need to get fresh air, but you must do that in your own neighborhood,” Murphy said.
Closure of the parks begins at 8 p.m. under the governor’s executive order. It will remain up to individual municipalities to keep open or close their own local parks or keep them open, he said.
“Please don’t travel to someone else’s parks,” Murphy said. “We need 100% compliance to flatten the curve.”
The park closures come as the state’s top health official reported an additional 3,361 people tested positive for COVID-19, including 33 residents of long-term care facilities.
“Our long-term care facilities continue to be severely impacted; 188 of our long-term facilities in the state have at least one COVID-19 case,” said state Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
It brought the total number of COVID-19 cases to 44,416, Persichilli said. State officials reported 232 new deaths Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 1,232 people.
It marks the highest number of deaths the state has reported in one day, Murphy said. Counties with most cases are Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union and Passaic counties, he said.
State officials also discussed disparities in the way the virus has impacted minorities.
Persichilli said that of the new cases, 60% reported as white, 24% reported as black/African American, 5% reported as Asian and 11% as another race.
“Communities that are usually left behind are further left behind, and it does not correlate entirely to communities of color, but that is the reality,” Murphy said.
The governor signed four executive orders Tuesday.
In addition to signing the order for park closures, Murphy extended the public health state of emergency, pushed back the deadline for school boards with April elections now moved to May to certify budgets and waived the state requirement for student assessments for the 2019-20 academic year.
State Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet said the orders are designed to allow school districts to focus on the education work that most matters.
“We must provide some flexibility,” Repollet said. “These adjustments are necessary to allow districts to continue their important work.”
Officials continued to emphasize the need for social distancing.
“We’ll only come through this if we stay together by, ironically, now staying physically apart,” Murphy said.
As of Tuesday, the number of cases and deaths by county is as follows, according to the state Health Department.
7,533 Positive Tests Results
5,078 Positive Test Results
4,949 Positive Test Results
4,358 Positive Test Results
4,101 Positive Test Results
3,717 Positive Test Results
2,770 Positive Test Results
2,641 Positive Test Results
2,239 Positive Test Results
1,033 Positive Test Results
837 Positive Test Results
736 Positive Test Results
733 Positive Test Results
331 Positive Test Results
311 Positive Test Results
255 Positive Test Results
234 Positive Test Results
144 Positive Test Results
Cape May County
94 Positive Test Results
71 Positive Test Results
31 Positive Test Results