There's good news, and there's bad news.

The good news: New Jersey’s COVID-19 metrics are nowhere near as bad as they were in the first months of the pandemic. The bad news: They're getting worse, nearly by the day.

Gov. Phil Murphy said during Monday’s coronavirus update — held remotely after the governor's own exposure, even though he's since tested negative repeatedly — the Garden State has an additional 1,223 cases, led by Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Passaic and Union Counties with at least 110 new cases each. It's the ninth day in a row New Jersey has seen more than 1,000 new positive cases.

Murphy said the state positivity rate is now 4.48% “a number that is too high." The RT, or rate of transmission, has moved up slightly to 1.23% after hovering a little below 1.2 for weeks. New Jersey hospitals are treating 948 COVID-confirmed and suspected patients, with 178 in the ICU and 75 on ventilators.

Murphy also announced 7 more deaths have been confirmed, while pointing out Jersey hospitals reported 19 more deaths on Sunday. Confirmations of  COVID-19 deaths often lag behind the patients' passings by days or weeks.

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"Everywhere you look it is screaming out that this is surging now, folks,” Murphy said. “We have all got to band together and turn these numbers down, particularly hospitalizations and losses of life.”

The governor said that means socializing in private homes with friends and neighbors must stop.

“It continues to feel to us that a lot of these cases are coming out of fatigued behavior in private settings, which are beyond our ability to effectively regulate,” he said. “there are very few steps you can take other than pleading with people to do the right thing, which we’ve been doing.”

Murphy stressed “it is the acts of all of us as individuals, particularly in private spaces, private homes where we can crack the back of this.”

He also said social distancing and masking efforts must be re-doubled.

“We will not throw our hands up in defeat and let this virus run rampant until that day when we have either therapeutics or a vaccine," Murphy said. "We fight this as we have fought it since day one.”

The governor said a return to widespread closures remains a possibility if the numbers keep trending in the wrong direction, but right now “we do not believe those steps match the moment in terms of where the cases are coming from.”

Newark announced Monday it would restrict most businesses to operating until 8 p.m. — a move made with the Murphy administration's blessing, though it hasn't announced any broader effort to tighten limitations on crowds or business operations beyond those already in place.

Murphy said while efforts continue to develop a vaccine, for the time being “all we’re left with is the simple stuff — social distancing, face coverings, washing hands with soap and water.”

He added to get back to a degree of normalcy next year, all New Jerseyans need to “limit, limit limit” gatherings, including election night parties, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah gatherings, or just watching a sporting event on TV.

“Please do it the right way,” said Murphy. “Limited capacity, with strong preference (that) it’s with people in your own bubble, like your family or the folks you’ve been living with, or to do it outside if at all possible.”

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