By: Follow South Jersey Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. is recommending county residents do not gather for Thanksgiving next week.
“This year, no one should be planning to attend or host indoor Thanksgiving celebrations with individuals who do not live in their household,” Cappelli said in a statement. “If you are still planning such an event, the time has come to cancel.”
The statement comes amid high spikes in COVID-19 cases across Camden County and the state. The Camden County Department of Health announced 780 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) confirmed between Saturday, Nov. 14, and Monday, Nov. 16 bringing the aggregate number of confirmed positive cases to 15,784 in the county and 588 total fatalities.
“Even with gatherings of fewer than 10 people, if you plan to gather indoors, all guests should prepare to be tested for COVID-19 in advance of the event and to quarantine for 14 days to ensure they have not been exposed to the virus or pose a risk to others,” Cappelli said.
The Freeholder Director said that contact tracers at the Camden County Health Department continue to report that the driving force behind this second surge is small, household parties and get-togethers.
“We know this step is necessary because this is not our first pandemic holiday,” Cappelli said. “On Easter Sunday, Camden County was averaging 99 new confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 each day. One week later, the average had increased 9 percent to 108 cases per day. On July 4, we averaged just 25 cases. One week later, a 48 percent increase to 37 cases per day. On Halloween, we averaged 86. One week later, a 74 percent increase to 150.”
On Monday, Governor Phil Murphy increased restrictions to reduce viral transmission by announcing a new 10-person cap on indoor gatherings.
“These measures have come just in time, because while the Governor did not explicitly link his executive order to the coming Thanksgiving holiday, Nov. 26 could significantly inflame our current crisis if we are not careful,” Cappelli stated.
Times during the pandemic when things appeared to be getting better, people started to gather more, and the results were spikes in cases, according to Cappelli.
“We have seen again and again during this pandemic,” Cappelli said. “When we try to steal a reprieve from the coronavirus by gathering with family and friends, it only tightens its grip on our community. We cannot afford a similar tightening this time, with our cases already at record levels and our hospitals working tirelessly to keep beds open and keep sick people alive.”
Cappelli, though, appears optimistic about relief in the near future.
“We can take comfort in knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to shine brighter,” Cappelli said. “Last week, Pfizer announced that early results on a vaccine trial showed 90 percent effectiveness, and today Moderna made even bigger news with a 95 percent effective vaccine of their own.”
While he is not pleased to make such recommendations, Cappelli feels it is necessary.
“I take no joy in making this recommendation, but it is critical that we take this seriously so that we can share many more holidays with our loved ones in the years to come,” he said. “We have to sacrifice today so that we can still enjoy tomorrow. Please, protect yourself and those around you by wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands, and cancelling all planned indoor gatherings.”
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