After seeing a rapid increase in cases last week, the University reported “much-reduced numbers” in the past few days according to an email sent from the Health Intervention Communication Team, and reported no new positive tests on Thursday.
Since the month began, there have been 35 cases reported at Seton Hall, with 26 of them reported between Oct. 20 and Oct. 25.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy warned that the second wave of the virus in New Jersey has already begun, and on Friday refused to rule out another statewide curfew for businesses in the state, similar to the one issued in March and April as cases soared.
“If we had to. I just hope we don’t have to,” Murphy said in an appearance on CNN. “We’ve done it before. If we had to, we’d do it again. But please God, I hope we don’t have to get to that.”
Just yesterday Murphy announced that New Jersey had officially started to see the beginning of a second wave of the virus, calling it "no longer something off in the future."
“It is coming, and it is coming now," He said.
The New Jersey Department of Health reported 1,477 new cases Thursday, and 2,089 cases Friday. Essex County had the most new cases, with 273 new cases on Friday.
Murphy said hand washing, social distancing, and masking would help slow the second wave.
“We are now urging you to double down on the practices that helped us flatten the curve in the first place last spring and throughout the summer,” Murphy said.
The increase in cases comes as residents prepare to return home for this year’s extended winter break. The University will offer, but not require COVID-19 testing for residents returning home before Thanksgiving, according to the email from the Health Intervention Communication Team.
On Tuesday, The State University of New York (SUNY) system announced that it would require 140,000 students across 64 campuses to test negative for COVID-19 before departing for the Thanksgiving holiday. The new order will affect any student who works or takes at least one class on campus, as well as any student who uses on-campus facilities and services such as dining halls, gyms and libraries.
“By requiring all students to test negative before leaving, we are implementing a smart, sensible policy that protects students' families and hometown communities and drastically reduces the chances of COVID-19 community spread,” SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said in a statement. “While we understand there is a lot of focus on plans for the spring semester, we must first finish this semester safely.”
Many of the cases in Essex County have been in Newark, which instituted an 8 p.m. curfew for all non-essential businesses on Tuesday after seeing a sharp rise in cases.
Leading up to the decision to roll out the curfew, the city saw a positivity rate of 11.2% with one neighborhood, the East Ward, seeing 25% of tests come back positive, Mayor Ras Baraka said at a press conference on Monday. The state’s positivity rate is currently at 6.54%, according to the Department of Health.
“I want to tell Newarkers… it seems desperate, but it's a desperate moment,” Baraka said of the curfew. “We got through this before, so we’ll get through it again.”
Daniel O’Connor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @ItsDanOConnor.