New Jersey

Hoboken Becomes Latest NJ City to Mandate Mask Indoors

For the sixth day in a row, Gov. Phil Murphy reported more than 6,000 new positive PCR tests, just shy of a record set back in January. The total number of cases last week reached a weekly all-time high

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Amid all-time high COVID-19 cases across New Jersey, the city of Hoboken on Monday became the latest in the state to order a new mask mandate.

The city's Office of Emergency Management established a mask requirement in all public indoor spaces for anyone ages 2 and older, with the exception of when they're actively eating or drinking. Mayor Ravi Bhalla says the new measure, which goes into effect on Wednesday at 6 a.m., will help protect Hoboken's most vulnerable residents and ensure businesses can remain open during the winter months.

The executive order will be lifted when the state's positivity rate reaches 5% for a one-week average or when the city's daily positive cases fall below the weekly average as compared to the first week of November 2021, according to the announcement.

Kids under age 5 are still not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine — and now hospitals are seeing a spike in children infected with the Omicron variant of the virus. In New York City, pediatric hospitalizations have quadrupled. And data shows huge percentages of child COVID patients have not been fully vaccinated yet, either due to choice or because they're ineligible, says Dr. Colleen Kraft of Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

As of Monday, New Jersey's 7-day positivity rate stood at 15-19.9%, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Hoboken Health Department reported over 611 residents have tested positive in the last seven days, a record high.

Mayor Bhalla himself also tested positive for COVID-19 on Christmas Day, he said, though the mayor who's vaccinated and boosted only experienced mild symptoms.

"It goes to show that vaccines and boosters work. Protect your loved ones and get vaccinated and boosted if you haven’t already," he said.

Within the last week, a number of other New Jersey cities also established indoor mask mandates. Montclair Township, the Village of South Orange and Newark, the state's largest city, also require people to wear their masks in indoor public spaces.

The move came as coronavirus cases, accelerated by the easily transmissible omicron variant, across the state nearly tripled since the start of December.

New Jersey’s largest city implemented a new mask order on the same day state infections neared an 11-month high for a fifth day in a row. Tracie Strahan reports.
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