N.J. coronavirus update: Murphy to reduce outdoor gathering limit, ban indoor sports

A sign at the entrance to a park warns pedestrians about increased risk for the coronavirus in the Ironbound section of Newark

A sign at the entrance to a park warns pedestrians about increased risk for the coronavirus in the Ironbound section of Newark, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

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

New Jersey recorded another 3,199 cases of coronavirus Monday, bringing the state’s cumulative total since the start of the pandemic to 337,304 infections.

Another 15 residents died from complications of COVID-19. The state has now seen 15,164 lab-confirmed fatalities and another 1,829 probable deaths.

There was an 11.3% positivity rate for coronavirus tests taken on on Thanksgiving.

New Jersey hospitals have 2,961 coronavirus patients, including 575 in critical care and 332 on ventilators.

N.J. will reduce outdoor gathering limit, ban indoor sports

New Jersey will drop its capacity limit on outdoor gatherings and ban youth and high school indoor sports in an attempt to stop a rising trend in new coronavirus cases.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced the changes during his Monday afternoon press conference.

The outdoor gathering limit will shrink from 150 people to 25 attendees beginning next Monday.

Effective this Saturday, all youth and adult indoor athletics are canceled through Jan. 2, but Murphy said he hopes to see the winter sports season return early next year.

“We are seeing outbreaks related to indoor sports, and this is a prudent, short-term step to slow the spread.”

Indoor collegiate and professional sports are allowed to continue.

State cautions against visits with Santa

Among state guidance to residents for the approaching holidays: reconsider visiting your mall Santa Claus.

Ed Lifshitz, medical director of New Jersey’s Communicable Disease Service, said any photo ops with Father Christmas should be held virtually or outdoors.

“If malls or other indoor locations still choose to offer in-person visits, these visits should be made via reservation, be socially distanced and time-limited,” Lifshitz said. “Children should not be permitted to sit on Santa’s lap.”

Lifshitz also said Christmas tree- or menorah-lighting ceremonies should be held outdoors with capacity limits. Holiday parades are discouraged.

Christmas carolers or other holiday choirs should be socially distanced from each other and their audience during performances, and everyone should wear masks, he added.

Health officials also urged residents to limit travel outside their home and only hold indoor gatherings with members of their immediate household.

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