New Jersey’s reopening plans are threatened, Gov. Phil Murphy said, because of “extreme knucklehead behavior” by young people who he said could be “substantially” spreading the coronavirus.
Murphy specifically expressed fear over what he said could turn out to be a superspreader event staged by a group of YouTube pranksters at the popular “Jersey Shore" house in Seaside Heights, as well as a pop-up car show that attracted 2,500 people.
If such behavior continues, he said, the state won’t be even “remotely close” to reopening bars – and could see a rebound in cases in its schools.
Murphy repeatedly has warned young people since June that they are “not invincible.”
“On Monday in Seaside Heights, extreme knucklehead behavior was on display with hundreds of crowded, unmasked young people,” he tweeted. “These knuckleheads are not welcome in New Jersey. I urge anyone who was in this crowd to go get tested for #COVID19.”
Murphy was referred to a group of YouTubers who drew large crowds to what once was MTV's "Jersey Shore" house in Seaside Heights as they counted down to the launch of a new line of merchandise.
New Jersey currently is seeing a spike in cases among young people’s age groups, the governor said, in announcing 447 new coronavirus cases and nine deaths Wednesday.
The results of recent COVID tests won’t be known for 10 days to two weeks.
"I don't know when we'll get there (reopening the state),” with instances of people packed together "either inside a bar or in a restaurant," Murphy said Wednesday. "We're not close to that.
"What makes people think a house party is any different from that? Because that's what that is, right?" he asked. "nd we've got to avoid that like the plague.
"Just because you're young and seemingly invincible doesn't mean you actually are, or that you can't spread the virus onto someone who may be particularly vulnerable if you yourself are not symptomatic."
Gatherings such as the Jersey Shore stunt and the car show is how COVID-19 “spreads most easily," Murphy said.
The most recent positivity rates for the 14-18 and 19-24 age groups have tripled over the past month and are now nearly three times the statewide rate, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said.
The 19-24 age group currently has the highest percentage of people who tested positive in the state, with a 7.1 positivity rate, she said, adding that the same group was at 2.7% a month ago.
The positivity rate for the 14-18 age group, meanwhile, went from 3 a month ago to 7, Persichilli said.
Every other age groups has flattened or declined, she said.
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