N.J. tops 1,000 new daily COVID cases for first time since May 8

New cases are one of the metrics Murphy is watching while pondering return of mask mandate

The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in the state’s daily count Thursday topped 1,000 for the first time in approximately 12 weeks, when the state announced there were 1,017 new cases.

It marked the first time since May 8 (when there were 1,030 cases) that the state topped the 1,000 threshold.

It’s a sign that the rise in cases caused by the Delta variant — something that has impacted other states far more than New Jersey — has come here. What’s unclear is whether this rising number will push Gov. Phil Murphy to mandate indoor face coverings again.

On Wednesday — while “strongly recommending” residents wear face coverings when they are indoors and in areas of risk — Murphy said he reserves the right to mandate such a regulation should the state’s health metrics continue to go in the “wrong direction.”

Administration officials said the metrics most closely watched include number of cases, hospitalizations, rate of transmission and percent of positivity.

The rate of transmission also has been rising, as have hospitalizations, but on a different curve as the number of cases.

On Thursday, the state announced there were 480 people hospitalized — a substantial jump from the beginning of the month, when there was a four-day period of fewer than 300, with the low point coming on July 2 (267).

On May 8, when the state was still recovering from the spring surge, there were 1,111 hospitalizations — far below the state’s 2021 peak of 3,760 hospitalizations Jan. 13.