N.J. is headed for spot on quarantine list. Here’s why it may not impact your ability to go to work in NYC

With 1,282 announced new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, New Jersey is all but certain to land on the 14-day quarantine advisory list it uses along with the states of New York and Connecticut.

But, if this occurs Tuesday — when the new list comes out — it won’t necessarily prevent people who work in the city from going in, according to the rules of the advisory.

The advisory — which was called a “strong advisory” by Gov. Phil Murphy when it was introduced in June — has a number of exemptions, including one for “essential” workers. And there’s a strong case that anyone still traveling for work — a number that has been dramatically reduced — is essential.

Then there’s this: Those who are “passing through” a state for less than 24 hours can be exempt, too.

Here’s the list of exemptions, according tor the state’s COVID-19 information page:

  1. People who passed through a designated state for a period of limited duration (i.e., less than 24 hours) through the course of travel.
  2. People who are passing through New Jersey on a layover for a period of limited duration (i.e., less than 24 hours) through the course of travel.
  3. People who are traveling to New Jersey for business matters that are exempted from the application of the travel advisory.
  4. People who are traveling to New Jersey and work in critical infrastructure fields, such as health care and federal, state and local law enforcement. Consult with your employer regarding whether there is industry-specific guidance that may apply to you.

Last Thursday, during his COVID-19 briefing, Murphy said the obvious about going into the city: “Don’t travel unless you have to.”

New Jersey, as a state, has not been on the quarantine list since it was introduced.

That figures to change this week.

For New Jersey, one of the two criteria to make the list is to have a 7-day average of 888 cases (the number is based on state population: 10 new cases for every 100,000 residents). New Jersey, which eclipsed that average for one day last week (Wednesday), is approaching it again.

This list is based on a 7-day average that ends Monday. New Jersey (and Connecticut) have agreed to follow New York’s recommendations. Last Tuesday, there were 35 states on the list.

As of Sunday, New Jersey’s six-day average is 997, meaning the state will exceed the average if it reports approximately 250 cases or more on Monday.

The state, which had new cases in the 400s for much of the summer/fall, has seen those numbers increase dramatically in the past few weeks. Sunday’s number marked the second time this month the state has had more than 1,000 new cases — something it had not had since May.

Here’s a look at the past six days:

  • 18: 1,282;
  • 17: 958;
  • 16: 823;
  • 15: 973;
  • 14: 953;
  • 13: 993.

New Jersey is nowhere near meeting the other criteria, having a positivity rate of 10% or greater.

While it appears that making the list does not necessarily slow or prevent travel, it is a mark on the state, one that can cause annoyance and anger.

Delaware — which currently is on the list — has been on and off all summer, much to the consternation of Gov. John Carney.

Carney has described himself as being “mad as hell” about it, and said he and Murphy have had a few “shouting matches” about it. Carney feels the criteria used are not accurate, as the date new cases are reported is not necessarily the day the tests were taken.

Carney has called for an end to the lists.

Murphy, last week, said he will not have a similar reaction if New Jersey ends up on the list.

“We’re not going to spend a lot of time complaining about whether or not we’re on somebody’s other list,” he said.