'We must be careful': Gov. Murphy discourages holiday gatherings as New Jersey COVID cases rise

Friday, October 16, 2020
EMBED <>More Videos

State officials are discouraging large indoor holiday gatherings, including Thanksgiving dinner.

TRENTON, New Jersey -- With another nearly 1,000 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday in New Jersey, state officials are discouraging large indoor holiday gatherings, including Thanksgiving dinner.

For many, it'll be a very different kind of holiday season. Sandy Kramer, of Mount Laurel, typically hosts 15 to 18 people at her Thanksgiving table.

"I do the turkey and the stuffing. My daughter does the rest," said Kramer.

But this year's crowd will be much smaller - just a few people.

"We always have a good time. But maybe next year," she said.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci warns Thanksgiving gatherings pose high risk for COVID-19

As the holidays approach, with COVID-19 numbers already on the rise, Gov. Phil Murphy says people need to prepare to hunker down for the holidays.

Murphy says people are taking precautions in public, but outbreaks are still being linked to indoor family gatherings.

"One thing that we must be careful of are indoor gatherings, which are increasingly becoming the starting points for outbreaks. Sadly, we are seeing more and more family gatherings as the sparks for these outbreaks," said Murphy.

Health officials say a traditional, large thanksgiving gathering can be dangerous.

"We urge you to not gather around the dining room table with anyone outside your immediate household. And if you do, to limit that reach to only a limited number of close relatives," said Murphy.

There's a concern at the county level as well. In Burlington County, the average number of daily new cases has tripled over the past month, and health officials urge people not to let their guard down.

"Kids are heading back to school and people are heading back to work, people are going to be inside more. We know that is a risk for an increased rate of transmission for all sorts of viruses," said County Health Officer Dr. Herb Conaway. "We're going to have to think about this and do a lot of public health messaging on this issue. Otherwise, we could see a very significant spike in the wake of Thanksgiving and then after that Christmas."

Murphy did say that schools are looking good, with 22 reported school outbreaks and 83 total cases linked to schools statewide.

Still, state health officials say this is not the year to travel for the holidays or have out of state visitors - even asking folks to consider bundling up and having Thanksgiving dinner outside.