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COURT HOUSE - July 2: Cape May County reports an additional two COVID-19 cases were found today, one each in Dennis Township and Ocean City. An 81-year-old Cape May man also succumbed to the coronavirus.

According to a release, New Jersey has 172,356 total COVID-19 positive cases and 13,251 deaths. Total positive cases of COVID-19 infection in Cape May County is now 763, including 69 deaths. Additionally, there are 23 out-of-county positive cases.

“My deepest condolences,” stated Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton, regarding the county's latest virus fatality. “Wishing the family peace and comfort during this hard time."

Cape Regional Medical Center is reporting that most of the recent out-of-county positive COVID-19 cases have involved young people between the ages of 16 and 22. Over the past two days, the Health Department has confirmed eight positive cases yesterday and another 23 today within this same age group. Not one of these cases required hospitalization. 

Although widespread testing is being done throughout New Jersey, these new cases are coming from people failing to social distance. The majority of new cases testing positive in Cape May County within the last few days were young adults who were socializing without regard to the threats of spreading the coronavirus. Most of these people are short-term visitors with permanent residence from another county or state.

As a result, the Cape May County Health Department is launching a social media educational safety campaign, targeting this age group with social distancing and masks wearing precautions.

Kevin Thomas, Cape May County's health officer, stated, “Although Cape May County’s year-round population COVID-19 cases are the lowest in the state, it is important to remember that while you may be on vacation, this disease is not. Without protection, crowded settings and social gatherings such as large house parties are prime conditions for contracting the disease.”

Freeholder Jeff Pierson stated, “The key elements to reducing the spread of the coronavirus involve social distancing, proper hand hygiene and wearing face masks when you can't social distance. Yet, there are still irresponsible people who refuse to wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Recent studies indicate that without a mask, social distancing, or any other preventive measures, the risk of transmitting the coronavirus is 17.4%. Add a mask or respirator, and that number drops to 3.1%. With less than 3.28 feet (1 meter) of distance and no other protective measures, research found the risk of transmission was 12.8%. With more than 3.28 feet of distance, it's 2.6%.

The Cape May County Freeholder Board, the mayors of Cape May County, and the Board of Directors from the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, in a July 1 release, urged everyone to wear a mask in public spaces to both keep people safe and the economy open.

“As the governor has said, there will be peaks and valleys as we move through this, but this demonstrates that our bar owners and younger people need to immediately take this situation much more seriously or risk new restrictions and shutdowns,” stated Thornton.

The New Jersey State Health Department requires the local health departments to document positive cases to their permanent address. Therefore, out-of-county or out-of-state visitors who test positive are not counted in the overall numbers for Cape May County. As such, the Cape May County report will list out of county positives separately and will not be reflected in the New Jersey state numbers.

Additionally, Chief Paul S. Skill, president, Cape May County Chiefs of Police Association, states, ”All restaurant, bar and business owners and our residents and visitors to do their part in making sure everyone complies with the COVID-19 restrictions.  Please follow all social distancing protocols and wear masks whenever possible so all that you bring home from your holiday celebration are fond memories.  The Chiefs of Police Association wishes all of you a safe, healthy and fun Fourth of July.”

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