The New York Times reports New Jersey elected leaders and public health officials have grown concerned about the state's rise in coronavirus cases in recent weeks. 

Last week, New Jersey recorded its lowest seven-day average of new coronavirus cases (224) since early April. That average has risen to 416 new cases every day, which represents a 28 percent increase. Gov. Phil Murphy believes the state’s young residents are to blame for this setback in progress. 

The accusation isn’t without some factual evidence. A party in Long Beach Island yielded 35 cases, a graduation party resulted in 17 cases, and a house party in Middletown led to 65 new cases. Of those 65 people infected with the virus at the Middletown get-together, 52 were between 15 and 19 years old. 

The head of the State Police suspects that New Jersey residents are operating an “underground situation” to combat the continued state-wide shutdown of indoor bars and restaurants. These defiant measures are more than likely being carried out without any social distancing and/or face covering considerations. 

While New Jersey remains one of the few states that have successfully flattened the curve, and continued to keep their numbers down, Murphy isn’t taking these new findings lightly, especially when looking back at all the progress that has been made up to this point. “Over the past four months, we have crushed the curve,” he said. “But folks, this is sobering.”

“We are now back — plus or minus — to where we were a month ago in the daily number of new cases,” Murphy continued. “We can’t go backward. We can’t afford to go backward.”

I know it’s been a long four months.

But, we cannot become complacent and take irresponsible risks that put our families and communities at risk.

We’ve worked too hard to get to where we are now – we can’t slide backward.

Keep it up.

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) July 29, 2020