At the beginning of the summer, when COVID-19 cases began to spike in other parts of country, infection rates in New Jersey were dropping, hospitalizations were going down and fewer ICU patients were dying of the virus.

But over the past several weeks, an ominous new trend has been taking shape.

During Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest COVID update, which was held remotely online meeting because Murphy is self-quarantining after he was exposed to someone this weekend who later tested positive for the virus, he announced almost 12 hundred more new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, which means New Jersey’s daily case count has topped a thousand for the past five days.

The spot positivity rate has climbed to 5.28, the highest it’s been in months. Hospitalizations keep climbing and 18 more New Jersey residents have died from COVID.

“We’re advising all New Jerseyans, frankly, to avoid any unnecessary interstate travel given the recent increases in numbers both here and neighboring states let alone elsewhere in the country,” Murphy said.

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He noted the suggested travel restriction does not mean you should not go to work, the supermarket or a doctor’s office if it means crossing state lines. “But we urge everyone to otherwise stay in New Jersey so we can focus on getting our numbers back down," he added.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the state is now up to 852 hospitalizations, double from the daily average last month.

He described the latest figures as "sobering."

"They’re constant reminders that not only are we not out of the woods, but we also have to find a way to combat fatigue," Murphy said. “Folks, we can’t drop the ball here, and that goes especially when we’re welcoming people into our homes. It’s when people are gathering in private homes that we’re seeing trouble. These are the places where most of our new outbreaks we believe are coming from.”

The governor said 196 of the cases announced Thursday were in Essex County. Bergen, Hudson and Union counties each had more than 100 new cases.

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