TRENTON – Sussex County is the only county in New Jersey not rated as having high transmission of the coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC rates the community transmission of COVID on a four-step scale and recommends that masks be worn in indoor public settings in counties where transmission is substantial, such as Sussex, or high, which is the rating in the other 20 counties in the state.

At this point, there are only 20 counties east of the Mississippi River where indoor mask-wearing isn’t recommended by the CDC, most of them within range of the Canadian border.

Sussex County has the state’s lowest rate of daily cases, as calculated by the website CovidActNow: 12.5 cases a day per 100,000 residents. Interestingly, Sussex has New Jersey’s fifth-lowest vaccination rate, with 60% of its residents having gotten at least one dose.

The lowest vaccination rates are in Cumberland, Ocean, Salem and Gloucester counties, each of which have case rates over the past week that are higher than New Jersey’s statewide rate of 19.9 cases a day per 100,000 residents.

New Jersey’s case rate is at its highest level since May 2 but remains the ninth lowest in the country. Three states are averaging more than 100 cases a day for every 100,000 residents: Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

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With Wednesday’s update, the number of confirmed COVID-related deaths in New Jersey since the pandemic began reached 24,000.

Add in 2,721 more deaths that are probably COVID-related and the total would represent the population of New Jersey’s 95th biggest municipality, just passing Paramus.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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