TRENTON, NJ -- New Jersey set a new record high number of daily COVID-19 cases 5,673, Gov. Phil Murphy announced at his press briefing in Trenton Friday afternoon. This figure eclipses any total even during the early days of the pandemic's first wave back in March and April. The mark breaks the previous record set only on Thursday when the governor announced 4,913 new cases.

In the spring, when New York and New Jersey were the epicenter of the pandemic, the Garden State's highest reported total was 4,391. After a lull in the summer months, when people spend more times outdoors, positive COVID cases are again on the rise this fall, particularly in the past week. 

Overall, there have been 356,662 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey and 15,419 deaths. The state's daily positivity rate is now in the double-digit range at 10.42%.

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Murphy continued to stress the need to wear masks, maintain social distance, and wash hands. He again called out "knucklehead" behavior, including a group of young Republicans who crossed the Hudson to host a fundraiser in Jersey City when they could not hold it in Manhattan. In particular, he called out Congressman Matt Gaetz, whom he called "Matt Putz," as for being "beyond the pale" for participating in the revelry.

"What a fool. He and they should be ashamed of themselves. He is not welcome in New Jersey, and frankly I don't ever want you back in this state," Murphy said, adding that the state police are investigating the party and will take action, as appropriate.

However, the governor has not sharply criticized other several high profile Democratic elected officials across the country who have ignored their own social distancing rules. These include the mayor of Austin, Steve Adler, who recorded a video telling people to stay home from a vacation home in Cabo, Mexico, where he flew on a private jet, and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who dined indoors without a mask -- with a group of lobbyists at the famed French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley -- after warning Californians against Thanksgiving gatherings. 

Latest COVID Figures

Friday's 5,673 new cases bring the state's cumulative total to 356,662 positive COVID-19 cases, and the 48 new deaths pushed the statewide number to 15,419. There were 3,315 hospitalizations, 615 of whom are in critical care. The governor reported that 63% of ICU patients are on ventilators.

"The end is of the pandemic is not upon us with the news of the first shipments of a vaccine – but it is getting closer with each day," the governor says. "Let’s do all we can to make sure our entire New Jersey family is intact when that end comes."

Murphy said that "the light on the other side of this pandemic is now becoming visible" and that the presence of a vaccine in our state "does not mean that we can flip a light switch and remove all restrictions."

"Full brightness will take months and millions of New Jerseyans getting vaccinated," Murphy said. "A vaccine is on the way. We need to hang on together a little longer and commit to wearing our masks, social distancing, and keeping vigilant." 

"Thank you to everyone who continues to hold tight to the practices that we need to keep our communities health – social distancing, wearing face masks, and common sense," he said.