NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- Gov. Phil Murphy is extending the public health emergency in New Jersey for an additional 30 days.
"Unless extended, these emergencies expire after 30 days," the governor said Monday. "Given where we are currently, we must remain in a proper footing to continue responding to this pandemic."
Murphy also signed an executive order moving the upcoming February fire district elections, March special school elections and all other special elections to April 20, 2021.
The state reported Monday 3,186 new positive COVID-19 cases and 29 additional deaths.
"In the two weeks after Thanksgiving, we were averaging roughly 4,000 new cases per day," Murphy said. "For the first three weeks of December we're averaging nearly 4,800 daily cases - a 20% increase. Hospitalizations are 25% higher, ICU counts are up 30%, and ventilator use is up nearly 60%."
Murphy said this is the year for a small Christmas with those in your immediate family bubble.
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"If you insist on a big gathering this year, you're taking a real risk that when next Christmas comes, there will be fewer loved ones gathered around your tree," he said. "This is NOT THE YEAR for Christmas-as-usual or New Year's Eve-as-usual. Please do not hold a large, indoor family Christmas gathering or indoor New Year's Eve party. We cannot take the risk of these celebrations leading to a spike in new cases and hospitalizations."
Meanwhile, Murphy said he was happy to see the House and Senate come to a COVID-19 relief agreement, but said "the job is not done."
"History will judge us harshly if we undershoot this moment," he said. "At $900 billion, we are undershooting. Our families, businesses, communities, and fellow states need more direct support."
New Jersey has administered 8,740 doses to health care workers at 26 hospitals thus far.
Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli defended the state's decision to not vaccinating its nursing homes until next week - an attempt to include as many people in this group as possible.
125,000 people will get vaccinated in this group, which includes long-term care, assisted living, state developmental facilities and thousands of group homes.
Also, Murphy announced all five of New Jersey's State Developmental Centers have been enrolled in the Federal Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccinations, ensuring some of our most vulnerable residents don't fall through the cracks when it comes to vaccinations against this virus.
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