Sussex County cases skyrocket, health officials issue Thanksgiving warning

Sussex County. New positive cases of coronavirus in Sussex County this week have shot past pandemic’s worst spikes. The governor has ordered that indoor gatherings be limited to 10 people.

18 Nov 2020 | 09:43

New cases of coronavirus in Sussex County are on a dramatically upward trajectory, according to numbers issued by the county health department in the past week.

The department reported 136 new cases on Monday alone, which far exceeds the number of new cases for any single day of the pandemic so far this year.

This development comes a week before Thanksgiving, as families plan get-togethers. Gov. Phil Murphy retightened restrictions this week, ordering that indoor gatherings be limited to a maximum of 10 people, and outdoor gatherings be limited to a maximum of 150 people, effective Tuesday, Nov. 17. The governor earlier put new restrictions on restaurants, bars, and indoor sports.

Health officials say that combining groups that may not have seen each other in a while is extremely risky and recommend spending the holidays with those already living in their household.

The following indoor gatherings may continue under the current rules, limited to 25 percent of a room’s capacity, up to 150 people: religious services/celebrations and political events, weddings and funerals, memorial services, and performances.

Sussex County Freeholder Anthony Fasano announced at the Nov. 12 freeholders meeting that in-home COVID tests are can be obtained by county residents at no charge, with results within 48 hours. Details may be found on the county’s website, sussex.nj.us.

The county health department refers residents to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which says, “The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer.” Please see the CDC’s tips accompanying this article.

“Infection is transmitted by respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe,” says a statement from the county health department. “CDC recommends community use of multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Masks are primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets (source control), which is especially relevant for asymptomatic or presymptomatic infected wearers who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others, and who are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions.1,2 Masks also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer (filtration for personal protection). The community benefit of masking for SARS-CoV-2 control is due to the combination of these effects; individual prevention benefit increases with increasing numbers of people using masks consistently and correctly.”

Everyone can make Thanksgiving safer
Follow these tips from the CDC:
Wear a mask with two or more layers over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. Make sure the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face.
Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you.
Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread COVID-19 or flu.
Keeping 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Keep hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol with you and use it when you are unable to wash your hands.
Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups, and utensils.
Safely store your mask while eating and drinking.
Avoid going in and out of the areas where food is being prepared or handled, such as in the kitchen.
Use single-use options, like salad dressing and condiment packets, and disposable items like food containers, plates, and utensils.
If having guests to your home, be sure that people follow the steps that everyone can take to make Thanksgiving safer.
Have a small outdoor meal with family and friends who live in your community.
Limit the number of guests.
Have conversations with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items between use.
If celebrating indoors, make sure to open windows.
Limit the number of people in food preparation areas.Have guests bring their own food and drink.
If sharing food, have one person serve food and use single-use options, like plastic utensils.
Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
If you do travel, check travel restrictions before you go.
Get your flu shot before you travel.
Always wear a mask in public settings and on public transportation.
Stay at least 6 feet apart from anyone who is not in your household.
Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your mask, eyes, nose, and mouth.
Bring extra supplies, such as masks and hand sanitizer.
Consider other Thanksgiving activities: host a virtual meal; share recipes and photos; watch parades, sports, and movies; find a fun game to play; or shop for great holiday deals online. Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.