The entire state of New Jersey now falls under the CDC’s guidance for indoor mask-wearing, according to the federal agency’s latest map of virus transmission rates across the US.
Every single one of the state’s 21 counties has become marked red or orange, indicating “high” or “substantial” rates of COVID-19 cases — triggering the federal government’s recommendation of indoor masks even for the vaccinated.
Just 10 counties in the Garden State had virus levels that high at the start of the month, according to NJ.com.
The CDC issued its new guidance on mask wearing in late July amid a contagious Delta variant surge across the country.
The CDC has four categories of transmission levels – “low,” “moderate,” “substantial” and “high” — based on the amount of new cases per 100,000 residents or a high number of positive tests.
Areas with 50 new cases per 100,000 people are considered “substantial” transmission counties, while those with 100 or more new cases per 100,000 are considered “high,” according to CDC guidelines.
The sections of New Jersey flagged for “substantial” transmission include most of the northern half of the state surrounding New York City.
Nine counties are currently marked with “high” levels of the virus, mostly in the southern half of the state: Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth and Hunterdon.
North Jersey’s COVID-19 rates are still lower than neighboring New York City, the entirety of which is now experiencing “high” transmission rates, the CDC said.
Meanwhile, 14 New York counties — all upstate — are seeing “moderate” transmission and do not fall under the new mask guidance, the CDC said.