N.J. (823 new cases) continues to hover near quarantine line

New Jersey is still reporting COVID-19 numbers that show the state is close to being placed on its own quarantine list.

On Friday, the state announced 823 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its rolling seven-day average to 838. The number is down slightly from the day before. An average of 888 would be needed to make the list.

The state now has had 217,804 cases — 10th-highest among states.

Gov. Phil Murphy also announced five more confirmed COVID-19 deaths, bringing that total to 14,413.

Other news Friday:

New head at Military and Veterans Affairs

Murphy announced Friday that Col. Dr. Lisa Hou will become interim adjutant general and commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, effective immediately.

Hou, the current DMAVA deputy adjutant general, replaces Maj. Gen. Jemal Beale in what is being called a long-expected major shakeup.

Also out are the heads of the two veterans’ homes (Matthew Schottlander in Paramus and Elizabeth Heedles in Menlo Park). Veterans’ homes were hit hard in the opening stages of the pandemic; 190 residents have died.

Murphy did not address the shakeup in his release, saying only that he wishes Beale well in his future endeavors.

He spoke highly of Hou.

“Having served as a field surgeon in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the conflicts, and as a respected medical professional, Dr. Hou will provide invaluable leadership during the ongoing pandemic,” he said.

Hou currently serves as the deputy adjutant general and assistant commissioner for operations at DMAVA. She has been the principal adviser for military readiness, mobilizations, homeland security, defense support to civil authorities, human resources, logistics, training and financial management to the adjutant general. In the New Jersey National Guard, she serves as the first joint surgeon, coordinating medical efforts with partner agencies during domestic operations, such as the pandemic.