New Jersey Transmission Rate Indicates Spread as Restaurants Open

New Jersey reported that Covid-19 is spreading again, just as the state opened indoor dining and theaters and readied 1.4 million children for next week’s return to public and charter schools.

The transmission rate rose to 1.03 six months to the day after New Jersey reported its first novel coronavirus case, Governor Phil Murphy said at a Trenton news conference. It was the first time in two weeks that the statistic has moved above 1, the point at which spread is indicated.

The transmission rate is among many data that Murphy’s administration used to close schools and nonessential businesses in March, and later to determine reopenings. The restrictions eased Friday for restaurants, theaters and indoor performance spaces — businesses that have been closed the longest, with crowd caps and other precautions in place.

Murphy, citing a long Labor Day holiday weekend that traditionally includes end-of-summer bashes, warned New Jerseyans to continue masking and maintaining social distance.

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“If we see things getting out of hand, we absolutely reserve that right,” he said of the potential for closing businesses again. The administration had scuttled a planned July 2 return to indoor dining when social media showed crowds in close contact outdoors.

Protecting oneself and others, he said, was particularly important as public-school classes resume. Of 607 back-to-school plans approved by state education officials, 172 chose all-remote lessons and 59 called for completely in-person instruction. The rest will offer a mix of in-person and electronic classes.

The state Friday reported 15,978 deaths with lab-confirmed and probable Covid-19 links. Seven fatalities were logged in the past 24 hours.

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