N.J. coronavirus update: ‘Don’t screw up Christmas,’ Murphy says

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport

Travelers walk through the Salt Lake City International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the current surge?

New Jersey reported another 4,919 cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the state’s cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 445,138 known infections.

Another 103 residents died from complications of COVID-19. New Jersey has now seen 16,521 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,945 probable deaths attributed to the outbreak.

‘Don’t screw up Christmas,’ Murphy says

Gov. Phil Murphy is warning residents ahead of the Christmas holiday to remain vigilant about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, urging people to keep gatherings small and host them outside if possible.

“Don’t screw up Christmas. Don’t go big. Don’t go multi-generational. Stay within your immediate family,” Murphy said.

He noted that the increase in infections and hospitalizations after Thanksgiving was “better than we feared” but said it was no time for the state to let its guard down, amid case counts and hospitalization numbers last seen over the summer.

The governor also said children should worry not — the state police have deemed Santa travel essential.

Health care workers receive Moderna vaccine

Murphy and Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli visited Ocean Health Initiatives in Toms River Wednesday morning to watch health care workers receive among the first doses of the Moderna vaccine.

The COVID-19 vaccine arrived in the state just days after health care workers began to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“Today we are still a long way away from our ultimate victory, but there is no question there is a light on the horizon in the form of these vaccines that we now have in our state,” Murphy said. “The more people who get vaccinated, the higher the sun rises on that new day, and the brighter is the light.”

Persichilli said so far 27,730 New Jersey health care workers have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine at 54 hospitals and six other sites.

New unemployment claims rise slightly

New Jersey received 17,611 new unemployment claims for the week ending last Saturday, a 7.6% increase from the previous week but far lower than the height of the jobless crisis earlier in the pandemic.

A press release from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development said the increase was “driven largely by a bump in construction claims because of the snow.”

Congress has passed a new $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that will extend federal unemployment benefits, but it is unclear if President Trump will sign it.

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