The risk of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus has been raised for more than a third of New Jersey's counties.

According to the CDC Date Tracker website, eight counties have been moved to having a "medium" risk of contracting coronavirus: Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, and Somerset.

For months, nearly all New Jersey counties had been listed as having a "low" risk of community spread.

Under previous guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rise in risk level would have triggered recommendations to mask-up in those counties.

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However, revised guidelines no longer recommend masking among healthy people.

The state's COVID metrics have been steadily rising with the rapid spread of the BA.2 sub-variant.

New Jersey health officials reported another 1,776 new positive tests on Sunday and added one COVID death.

The number of new cases is up more than 150% in a month and nearly 90% of all new cases are attributed to BA.2. The rate of transmission for New Jersey is 1.15. Anything over 1.0 indicates an active spread of the virus.

Despite the rise, there has not been a corresponding increase in reports of severe infection or a spike in hospitalizations.

Fewer than 500 are hospitalized statewide. In January, more than 6,000 infected were occupying hospital beds.

Gov. Phil Murphy continues to take a wait-and-see posture toward the new infections. He has repeatedly said COVID is something we will need to "learn to live with," and has not imposed any new restrictions.

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