TRENTON – Sixteen counties in New Jersey entered the weekend with COVID community transmission levels high enough that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings.

By the end of the weekend, the recommendation applied in 20 counties. Only Warren County was excluded, as Morris County was added Saturday and Cumberland, Hunterdon and Mercer counties were added Sunday.

he CDC transmission map for New Jersey, for data through July 31, 2021. (Townsquare Media NJ)

The CDC posts daily county-level updates on COVID transmission levels. The Friday update added six counties – Camden, Cape May, Hudson, Salem, Somerset and Sussex – based on data current through Thursday.

Eighteen of the state’s counties are considered to have substantial transmission rates, the third highest of four levels. Only Cape May and Monmouth counties are at the top level, with high transmission. Warren County is rated moderate, with none currently considered low.

The CDC also recommends that fully vaccinated people who have a known exposure to someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 get tested for the virus three to five days after exposure and to wear a mask for two weeks or until they get a negative test result.

Gov. Phil Murphy has taken a slightly different approach. He strongly recommends that vaccinated people in all counties wear masks in indoor public settings that are crowded or if they don't know whether the other people present are vaccinated.

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Over the past week, the state is averaging 891 new COVID cases a day, which amounts to around 10 cases for every 100,000 residents. That’s the most since the second week of May.

Over 58 percent of state residents are fully vaccinated to protect against COVID-19, and 66% have gotten at least one dose. Hospitalizations have increased at a slower rate than cases, and deaths remain at their lowest levels of the pandemic.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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