The state of New Jersey continues to stockpile personal protective equipment, hire additional contact tracers and implement new safety protocols at long-term care facilities in preparation for the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 later this fall.

On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said one of the biggest threats the state is facing when it comes to a possible COVID surge is younger residents disregarding social distancing and masking mandates while attending large gatherings.

“That kind of gathering is how coronavirus spreads most easily,” he said. “And just because you’re young and seemingly invincible doesn’t mean you actually are, or that you can’t spread the virus to someone who may be particularly vulnerable if you yourself are not symptomatic.”

Murphy made the comments while decrying a gathering of more than 2,500 people for a YouTube stunt in Seaside Heights.

He noted positivity rates are rising for teens and 20-somethings because of what he described as “knucklehead” behavior.

“Let’s use some common sense for the common good. Let’s stop with the house parties and irresponsible behavior and get back to what we know works," he said.

Murphy then delivered another message to younger Garden State residents: “You can have fun, just please be outside, wear something on your face and state as far apart as we are here. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time.”

Murphy said even though the COVID metrics remain favorable in New Jersey, packing together unmasked at a pool party or a bar presents a clear and present danger.

“We’re not close to that, so what makes people think a house party is any different than that,” he wondered, “cause that’s what that is, right, and we’ve got to avoid that like the plague.”

He stressed all state residents should avoid large gatherings, while pointing out “we’re not hearing about bad behavior in gyms or indoor restaurants or indoor amusements or movie theaters.”

Murphy also noted even with every possible safeguard being followed, the virus “ebbs and flows and undulates, and there well could be a second wave.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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