PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The United States now has more than seven million coronavirus cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is projecting there will be up to 226,000 COVID-19 deaths by mid-October. Locally, New Jersey continues to see an increase in cases.
Compared to many parts of the country, New Jersey is in pretty good shape, but Gov. Phil Murphy is worried about the steady increase of COVID-19 cases the state has seen over the past two weeks.
“I have extended the public health emergency,” Murphy said.
It’s the seventh time Murphy has extended the emergency order, keeping in place the state’s ability to take action to fight COVID-19.
After a sustained decline, cases in September have been increasing.
“I hope folks are getting this and understanding that we are not out of the woods,” Murphy said.
In the past two weeks, daily case counts in New Jersey have been over 400. On Friday, the number climbed to 612.
“We got a few counties that are rising to a level of concern,” Murphy said. “Gloucester, Ocean certainly. That’s probably our biggest concern.”
The uptick in cases is linked to younger people, many returning to school and sports. Officials say some of the new infections are related to Labor Day festivities.
There have also been clusters of cases related to religious gatherings.
“We need, as I said earlier, everyone to worship and observe responsibly,” Murphy said.
A breakdown of numbers in New Jersey reflects a national trend. Minorities, many essential workers, have been especially hard hit by the coronavirus.
“47% of our deaths are among Hispanic men, 20 to 24 years old,” Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said.
Health officials say crowded living conditions and a lack of access to health care are among the reasons minorities have increased infection rates.
“The population is twice as likely to have asthma compared to the white population and 33% Hispanic are obese,” Persichilli said.
The pandemic has taken a big toll in New Jersey — second in the country for deaths — and eighth for the number of cases, but the state is now considered a national model for lowering infection rates.