WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield has seen 17 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in July, 10 of which have emerged in the past three days, Mayor Shelley Brindle said in her update Friday night. The increase comes after almost two weeks of no new cases, she said.

Of the seven cases reported Friday, five are in the age range of 17-19 (three of which are associated with a party and two are still being investigated), one is in the age range of 20-25 (from exposure to a household contact) and one is in the age range of 30-35 (exposure still being investigated), Brindle wrote. She said that four of the seven cases from the previous week were attributed to travel to states under the quarantine order.

She warned that more confimed cases were likely to come, as she had seen an alert circulating on social media Friday about the Westfield Urgent Care Center’s confirmed cases and had received numerous other messages about known new cases within the community, mostly among 18-24 year-olds emanating from Fourth of July and graduation parties.

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“There is typically a 48-hour lag time between a patient’s positive test results and those cases being reported to us in the statewide system, so I fully expect these numbers to rise over the next few days,” she said.

“This is an incredibly frustrating development after the many months of dedication by our residents to minimize community spread,” Brindle wrote. “Perhaps two weeks of no cases provided a false sense of security. While young adults may not typically experience the severity of the virus, they can easily spread it to more vulnerable members of the community and we could go right back to square one.

“I would urge everyone to strongly reconsider any plans they have to host or attend graduation parties this weekend with anyone other than family members," she continued. “Try to avoid any event where distance can’t be maintained and face coverings won’t be worn, as these are the types of gatherings that can easily increase the community spread we are starting to experience. Let’s work together to stop it now.”

Brindle recommended that anyone who felt they had been exposed to the coronavirus get tested and begin to self-quarantine immediately for 14 days.

“It’s important to do both,” Brindle wrote. “Some helpful guidelines from the NJ Department of Health can be found here.

“Please remember that if you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you still need to quarantine for a full 14 days after the last exposure, even if you do test negative, as the virus can incubate for up to 14 days after exposure,” she added.

She asked that residents cooperate with contact tracers if they call.

“Our Department of Health has worked tirelessly to track the cases in Westfield that provide us with helpful data about trends and community spread, and yet many residents refuse to provide them with information that would benefit us all,” Brindle wrote. “Any contact tracing information you provide is protected by HIPAA and serves a very valuable purpose in managing this virus.

“While it’s not unexpected to see an increase in cases following the lifting of many restrictions, I am extremely concerned about the community spread aspect coupled with an upcoming weekend of many graduation celebrations in the works,” she continued. “We are all anxious to have our businesses reopen, our sports resume and our kids back to school. Let’s continue to do our part to ensure that we can continue to move forward.”

Statewide, there was some good news Friday.

Gov. Phil Murphy shared during his press briefing that the rate of transmission fell to below 1.0 (currently 0.98) and the number of patients on ventilators dropped to 94 — below 100 for the first time in months. In addition, as of Thursday there were 904 people hospitalized and 162 in intensive or critical care. The daily positivity rate was 2.23% as of July 6.

Murphy and State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli announced at least 367 more people have contracted COVID-19 statewide (at least 174,628 total) and 1,978 more deaths (31 confirmed and 1,947 probable) for an aggregate total of 13,532.

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