Midsummer masks? CDC rates 6 NJ counties high for community COVID
Six New Jersey counties, mostly in the southern half of the state, now meet or exceed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's threshold for a "high" level of COVID-19 community transmission, according to the map maintained by the health agency.
The county-by-county measure is determined by several factors based on the number of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in the previous seven days, including the percentage increases in hospital admissions and staffed inpatient beds.
Morris, Monmouth, Burlington, Camden, Atlantic, and Cape May counties all rate as high as per the CDC's latest update, with the other 15 counties in the Garden State at the medium level.
Three counties that border New Jersey are currently at the lowest tier for transmission: Rockland County, New York; Pike County, Pennsylvania; and New Castle County, Delaware.
The CDC recommends that people "wear a well-fitting mask indoors in public, regardless of vaccination status or individual risk" in areas with a high COVID-19 community level.
Since rolling back the last of New Jersey's blanket COVID precautions following the dissipation of the initial Omicron wave, Gov. Phil Murphy has not reinstated any mask mandates, though did recommend a return to masking in schools as the academic year drew to a close.
Omicron variant BA.5 is now dominant in the United States, accounting for an estimated 53.6% of new cases from June 26 through July 2, according to the CDC.
New Jersey's statewide rate of COVID transmission stood at 1.02 as of Sunday. Any mark over 1 indicates the virus is spreading.
BA.5 was responsible for 28% of the cases in the week ending June 18, the state's most recent weekly update.