WESTFIELD — A Union County mayor is blaming summer parties on the rise of COVID-19 cases in her town, particularly among young people.

The township on Friday reported 10 new cases since Tuesday, bringing the total to 299. The township had gone two weeks without seeing any new cases until seven were reported last week.

Mayor Shelley Brindle said five of the new cases are teenagers between 17 and 19, at least three of whom were linked to a party.

Four of last week's cases were tied to travel to states under New Jersey's quarantine order.

Brindle expects the numbers to keep rising because there's been a host of other unconfirmed COVID-19 cases in town linked to recent Fourth of July and graduation parties.

The first-term Democrat encouraged residents of the affluent municipality to avoid events were social distancing isn't possible and face coverings won't be worn.

"This is an incredibly frustrating development after the many months of dedication by our residents to minimize community spread," Brindle said in an online message to her community. "Perhaps two weeks of no cases provided a false sense of security.

"While young adults may not typically experience the severity of the virus, they can easily spread it to more vulnerable members of the community and we could go right back to square one. I would urge everyone to strongly reconsider any plans they have to host or attend graduation parties this weekend with anyone other than family members," Brindle said.

"While it’s not unexpected to see an increase in cases following the lifting of many restrictions, I am extremely concerned about the community spread aspect coupled with an upcoming weekend of many graduation celebrations in the works. We are all anxious to have our businesses reopen, our sports resume, and our kids back to school. Let’s continue to do our part to ensure that we can continue to move forward."

New Jersey has recorded 15,479 confirmed and probable deaths linked to COVID-19. Of those 1,341 were in Union County. Nursing home residents and staff account for 6,723 of those deaths.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.