July 29, 2020
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called on residents to quit throwing house parties after several COVID-19 outbreaks were traced to indoor gatherings.
"We cannot continue to have crowded house parties," Murphy said Wednesday. "They are not safe. They put the hard work we’ve all undertaken since March at risk of being undone.
"I get that we’ve all had our routines turned upside down for the past four months, and we want to blow off some steam with friends. I understand the desire to escape the heat and head into the air conditioning. But indoor house parties spread coronavirus more efficiently."
A house party in Middletown, Monmouth County last week has produced at least 50 new COVID-19 cases among teens between the ages of 15-19, Murphy said.
At least 35 beach patrol members in Harvey Cedars and Surf City tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a house party on Long Beach Island.
Last weekend, police broke up a house party of about 700 people in Jackson, Ocean County. It's not clear how many coronavirus infections are a result of that gathering, Murphy said.
"This is no time for anyone to be vying for induction into the knucklehead hall of fame," Murphy said. "Coronavirus is more easily transmitted indoors. Crowded indoor house parties are not smart or safe.
"Being young is not an excuse to let your guard down. You are not immune to COVID-19. Do not become the person who unknowingly contracts coronavirus at a party and then spreads it to loved ones who may be more susceptible to this virus."
New Jersey is permitting outdoor gatherings of up to 500 people. But indoor gatherings remain capped at either 25% capacity or 100 people — whichever number is lower.
The state requires people to wear face coverings outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible in public settings. Face masks are required at all times when inside public spaces — even when social distancing is possible.
"Just because it is summer does not mean that we give up our common sense or personal responsibility," Murphy said. "We can have an enjoyable summer. We can gather together with our friends — but only in small groups and, hopefully, only outdoors.
"When there are hundreds of people crammed into a house, where the air-conditioning system is simply blowing the air around and people are not wearing masks, you have also invited coronavirus to your party. Be smart. Be safe."
New Jersey has recorded roughly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases over the last four days. That total is similar to the numbers seen about a month ago, Murphy said.
The state has had 180,766 confirmed coronavirus cases and 13,923 lab-confirmed deaths due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.