New Jersey has been doing what experts call a good job of controlling the COVID-19 spread for several months. But now they fear that may be changing.

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Recent metrics considered to be important in measuring the virus have been moving in the wrong direction.

New Jersey hospitals now have 652 COVID patients, which is higher than it’s been for several weeks but significantly less than mid-April when hospitals had 8,000 COVID-19 patients in one day.

On Sept, 23, New Jersey had 430 new COVID-19 cases. Over the past several days, that total has been creeping higher. On Thursday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced an additional 1,301 cases, the highest single-day total recorded since May.

Murphy on Thursday said that 11 people had died the previous day, brining the confirmed total to 14,373.

Murphy said he’s not “freaked out” by the increases but when we get 1,301 cases in one day, we know we’re still in the fight, folks."

Despite the increase in positive cases, Murphy said there is no evidence indoor dining is causing it. With the colder weather coming soon, he’s considering increasing the 25% indoor capacity to 35%.

He said that until we have a vaccine and medication that effectively counteracts the effects of the coronavirus, everyone needs to mask up and socially distance.

“Folks, that’s not complicated, right? That’s very basic stuff,” he said. “That’s what we’ve got to do. Please, God, do that.”

The governor said 22% of the new total — 285 cases — were in Ocean County, while 128 new cases, roughly 10% of the new coronavirus cases,  were in Monmouth.

Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Passaic and Union counties each reported more than 80 additional cases.

For those New Jersey residents who still don’t think COVID-19 is so bad, the governor delivered a pointed message, repeating that COVID-19 is not "just like the flu." In seven months, COVID-19 has killed about as many people in New Jersey as a decade's worth of flu deaths.

“Wake up, for crying out loud, wake up,” he said. “Wake up. Wake up.”

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state is anticipating and preparing for a second wave.

“If individuals do not adhere to social distancing, masking guidelines, washing your hands, this wave has a potential to become a surge," she said.

Murphy said if we continue to see significant COVID-19 surges, we might possibly face some rollbacks and closures.

“We’re watching this, there’s no other way to put it,” he said.

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