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As NJ Covid Numbers Rise, Experts Offer Advice on Turnaround

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New Jersey’s vital statistics on the coronavirus are troubling to experts.

Hospitalizations are up, as well as the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators. On Oct. 9, the state posted its biggest single-day increase in cases since May. Could another lockdown be on the way?

Stephanie Silvera, a professor of public health at Montclair State University, said she doesn’t think so. “I don’t see a lot of cooperation,” she said, “I think the political pushback on that would make it near impossible at this point to do, but I do think we should probably expect some things to be scaled back, and I’m thinking about indoor dining and schools.”

She said it’s especially important that rapid testing be made widely available, and wearing masks is critical. “If we can get to what we consider near universal masking, about 75, 60 to 75 percent of the population consistently wearing masks,” said Silvera, “we know that we can have an impact. She said mask-wearing may even become the norm during cold and flu season.

She also said a vaccine will likely only be part of the answer here, since studies show it may be only about 50 percent effective, much like the seasonal flu vaccine. “This is not gonna be a matter of, ‘Let’s pin all of our hopes on a vaccine,’” she said. “Everybody wants that magic bullet, but it’s really gonna be this combination of the vaccine, our individual behaviors, and policies that help guide those behaviors towards healthier choices that is what’s gonna get us out of this pandemic.”