LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Officials in Ocean County, New Jersey are expressing concerns over a post-summer spike in COVID-19 cases.
The Ocean County Health Department says the most significant uptick is happening in the 20-29 age group. Fortunately, most of the cases have been mild.
Officials point to a surge in gatherings and parties, restaurant patronage and religious observances, which are all contributing to the apparent spike.
"Folks this is clear evidence that we are not out of the woods," said Governor Phil Murphy on Monday.
New Jersey officials say while several counties are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Ocean County is leading the pack. Within the past week, data shows Ocean County logged three times the number of COVID cases compared to most other South Jersey counties.
"In Ocean, we are tracking between 100-150 new cases a day and of that number, at least half or more of those cases are in Lakewood," said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli.
Action News spoke with Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coles who says his town was hit hard in the spring.
"Unfortunately today I think a lot of folks have pandemic fatigue. They're getting mixed messages out of Washington," said Coles.
He says he works closely with the township's large community of Orthodox Jews, who are now gathering for the holy observance of Yom Kippur.
"The leadership in the town - both secular and religious - have really been working well together. There are several synagogues around here where they actually put tents up. And as I was driving around last weekend people were praying outside," said Coles.
State health officials are also keeping an eye on Lakewood Public Schools, which opened in-person five days a week about a month ago.
"I tell them to protect themselves. Make sure they wear masks. Make sure they wash their hands," said parent, Caroline Cameau.
Murphy also announced on Monday that the Garden State will soon receive 2.6 million 15 minute rapid COVID tests, saying this could be a game-changer for schools and hot spots like Ocean County.