TRENTON, NJ – A recent spike in cases of COVID-19 among younger New Jerseyans has caught the attention of Governor Phil Murphy and state health chief, Judith Persichilli. When asked if that spike has any correlation with Black Lives Matter protests or the George Floyd riots, Murphy declined.
“I don’t think there’s any evidence we have that the George Floyd related protests have led to this. I’m not aware of any evidence. I’m far more convinced that this is intensely close proximity, indoor realities,” Murphy said,
“Along with increasing cases in other states, we are seeing another concerning pattern, increases among positive cases among our young people. Florida, Texas and South Carolina have seen that more individuals under the age of 30 are testing positive,” Persichilli said. ” Many of these individuals have not had any symptoms, so they are unaware that they are contributing to the spread of this virus. In New Jersey, we have seen an increase in the percentage of cases between the ages of 18 and 29. In April, this age group represented 12% of the cases. That has risen to 22% of the cases in June. And while we know that some of this increase can be attributed to an increase in access to testing, we are still concerned about this trend.”
Instead, the governor and his staff believe the increase is related to 19 to 29-year-olds partying outside bars and restaurants. The recent protests have been free and clear of COVID-19 infections.
“We are especially concerned after gatherings we saw over the weekend at the Jersey Shore and another bar in northern New Jersey,” she said. “Individuals were packed together at these locations, which raises the risk of spreading COVID-19 to one another, and then on to a wider community. People of any age can get severe illness from COVID-19. More than 640 residents between the ages of 18 and 29 have been hospitalized because of complications from this virus, and there have been more than 15 deaths among this age group.”
“The flare ups of late have been skewed toward two realities: younger folks and indoors,” Murphy said. “There’s very little, I think, that we’re hearing that’s coming outdoors. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but when you’re looking at the flare ups, and New Jersey now is no exception in terms of both our concern and our caution about how we want to responsibly reopen things that are inside, but also today to Judy’s point about young folks, no one’s invincible. “