Amidst promising news of progress on a COVID-19 vaccine, there were many reminders on Monday that the virus remains a potent threat, in Greater Morristown and across the United States.
As the nation topped 10 million infections, after a week with more than 100,000 new cases per day, Morristown saw 25 new cases over the weekend– a weekend in which police cited the Horseshoe Tavern for violating capacity limits imposed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
“It was well over the 25 percent capacity, and patrons were not wearing masks,” Col. Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the State Police, said at Murphy’s press briefing on Monday.
Noting that New Jersey exceeded 1,500 COVID hospitalizations for the first time in five months, Murphy announced new dining restrictions, effective this Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020:
- All indoor indoor restaurants must close by 10 pm, and cannot reopen till 5 am.
- Barside seating is prohibited at all hours.
- Casinos cannot serve food or drink past 10 pm, though gaming can continue.
Indoor tables now can be closer than 6 feet– if separated by barriers. Outdoor dining and takeout and delivery may continue past 10 pm, and heated outdoor dining tent “bubbles” are allowed for one group of patrons at a time, with thorough cleaning and sanitizing of these tents between seatings.
Murphy also banned all interstate games and tournaments for indoor youth sports, up to and including high school, to prevent spreading the virus among teams.
The governor welcomed news from Pfizer indicating studies show its vaccine to be 90 percent effective. But even with swift federal approvals, he said the vaccine won’t be ready for distribution until spring. He urged citizens to fight off “pandemic fatigue” and adhere to safety guidelines to beat back this second surge.
“This virus has not gone away and it is posing its greatest threat to us in many months,” said Murphy, who spoke with infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci about the vaccine on Saturday.
‘SCALPEL NOT SHOTGUN’
State Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26th Dist.) criticized the new restrictions, asserting they should be tried first in counties with higher infection rates than Morris.
“The governor needs to use a scalpel not a shotgun,” DeCroce said in a statement, suggesting the state allocate federal CARES Act funds to help restaurants owners comply.
“With the capacity limits already in place on bars and restaurants, the burden placed on business owners to finance more state-imposed regulations is prohibitive,” DeCroce said.
Murphy reported 11 more COVID deaths statewide, bringing New Jersey’s total to 14,640 confirmed fatalities and 1,800 more probably caused by the virus. On Monday, 309 COVID patients required intensive care, and 94 were on ventilators, Murphy said.
Morris County recorded 408 new cases over the weekend, surpassing the 10,000 mark: So far, 10,336 residents have tested positive, and 697 have died. Another 145 deaths likely were the result of COVID-19.
Morristown’s latest confirmed cases bring the town’s pandemic total to 747, according to Morris County statistics. Morris Township’s infections increased by 16 over the weekend, for a total of 439. In Morris Plains, nine more cases were reported, for a total of 109.
Death totals for each town have not been released.
In Morristown, slightly more males than females have been infected. The average age is 49; 44 percent are within ages 18-46. About one-in-five cases are from long term care facilities.
“This is really exploding,” Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty said in his daily message to residents.
Commending police for the weekend crackdown at the Horseshoe Tavern, he added:
“We take it serious here in Morristown… There is a governor’s executive order on capacity and it’s going to be enforced.”