PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ — The coronavirus activity level has risen from "moderate" to "high" in 18 New Jersey counties, according to the state Department of Health's "COVID-19 Activity Level Report."
Passaic County — which reported 384 new positives Monday, according to the state Department of Health — is one of the 18.
Perhaps an indicator of how badly things are trending is the appearance of a middle-of-the-month Mayor's message in Wayne Township.
In Wayne, Mayor Christopher Vergano was a consistent figure in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic with daily news conferences. As cases began to trend down into the summer, however, those briefings became less frequent, and since took place monthly.
On Nov. 16, however, Vergano was back with an update, citing worsening trends across the township.
"For the month of November, unfortunately, we're already up to 274 positive cases," said Vergano, adding that the case total means the town is reporting an average of 17.2 cases per day.
In October, Vergano said the numbers were headed in the wrong direction when the town reported 154 cases for the entire month. In the second week of November alone, the township reported 173 cases.
Just 16 days in, and Wayne was already up significantly from their October totals, which was up significantly from the prior three months, when the township reported 74 new cases during July and September, and 76 new cases in August.
So why are the numbers up?
Vergano said a significant spike was first reported about 10 days after Halloween, adding that the township is aware of Halloween parties with "many guests. More than probably they should have," Vergano added.
Halloween may be the first holiday-related spike seen in North Jersey, where hospital officials are preparing for an additional "surge" in coronavirus totals after the winter holiday season.
The Activity Level Report, which is issued weekly, also noted that New Jersey's statewide activity is at a "high" level. This comes as New Jersey's new daily case total topped 4,000 on six of the last 10 days, the first time that's ever happened.
It was also the first time the Garden State hit that level since May. Only three counties — Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland — remain at the "moderate" level.
The coronavirus risk rose to "high" in each of the counties because:
The new daily case rate in each of the counties rose to 10 or more per 100,000 people
The percent of COVID-like illnesses rose above 5.52 in each of the counties.
The percent of positive cases rose above 10.01.
Murphy addressed the rise during an interview with CBS morning on Tuesday, saying New Jersey has been experiencing a "bad combination" of cold weather and pandemic fatigue in which too many people are letting their guard down.
With reporting from Tom Davis.