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 during his daily press briefing.

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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.

Bergen County

7,533 Positive Tests Results

263 Deaths

Essex County

5,078 Positive Test Results

232 Deaths

Hudson County

4,949 Positive Test Results

232 Deaths

Union County

4,358 Positive Test Results

95 Deaths

Passaic County

4,101 Positive Test Results

62 Deaths

Middlesex County 

3,717 Positive Test Results

100 Deaths

Monmouth County  

2,770 Positive Test Results

71 Deaths

Ocean County  

2,641 Positive Test Results

85 Deaths

Morris County  

2,239 Positive Test Results

87 Deaths

Somerset County  

1,033 Positive Test Results

40 Deaths

Mercer County  

837 Positive Test Results

24 Deaths

Camden County  

736 Positive Test Results

 12 Deaths

Burlington County  

733 Positive Test Results

13 Deaths

Sussex County 

331 Positive Test Results

15 Deaths

Gloucester County  

311 Positive Test Results

5 Deaths

Warren County  

255 Positive Test Results

7 Deaths

Hunterdon County  

234 Positive Test Results

2 Deaths

Atlantic County 

144 Positive Test Results

4 Deaths

Cape May County  

94 Positive Test Results

2 Deaths

Cumberland County  

71 Positive Test Results

2 Deaths

Salem County 

31 Positive Test Results

3 Deaths