By Cleve Bryan

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — The number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise again Monday in New Jersey but Gov. Phil Murphy is pointing to some optimistic new data. He says the big steps the state has taken are working.

To encourage New Jerseyeans to wear masks, Murphy wore one of his own on Monday afternoon. While joking about the fashion, the overall situation remains dire in New Jersey, with total cases of COVID-19 surpassing 41,000 and the death toll now at 1,003.

An additional 86 deaths were reported Monday. Among the deaths, Murphy announced Jersey City Councilman Michael Yun has died due to COVID-19.

Yet new data suggests the pace of new cases is leveling off and the proverbial curve of transmission is flattening out.

“This should be all the incentive we need to keep doing exactly what we’re doing because this is not a game. It is, in every sense, a matter of life and death,” Murphy said.

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While there is a wide range of potential outcomes, current models show the number of COVID-19 cases topping out between about 90,000 and 500,000, with the peak occurring between April 19 and May 11.

More importantly, hospital projections are below surge capacity.

“If we keep our current practices, we can get through the peak with the hospital beds that we are preparing,” Murphy said.

But one area of the state with grave concerns about resources is the Jersey Shore.

This weekend, the state gave shore towns and counties the authority to cut off short-term rentals at hotels, motels and second homes, which could have a chilling effect on businesses and people who depend on renting out their second homes to pay their mortgages.

“Please don’t book anything and basically, please don’t come down until further notice. That’s what we’re saying. Protect yourself and protect your family, thereby you’re going to protect us,” Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said.

With their new authority, some shore towns are already planning to vote on resolutions this week to prohibit second home rentals through April and into May.

On Monday, The Wildwoods announced all short-term rentals, including hotels, motels and private residences, are prohibited until April 30.