With a growing number of COVID cases being recorded in New Jersey, and hospitalizations continuing to rise (now at 419) along with the positivity rate (3.84) and the rate of transmission (1.44) state officials are suggesting New Jerseyans may want to consider getting tested for COVID even if they feel fine and have been vaccinated.

During the regular COVID update on Monday, Gov. Phil Murphy announced an additional 594 confirmed cases of the virus.

He noted over the past week there have been 4, 875 confirmed new infections in the Garden State, an average of more than 696 a day.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said if you and your kids have been away on vacation and been around a group of people you don’t know, “get yourself tested, and I really recommend everybody get tested before they go back to school.”

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The governor said if you have any COVID symptoms you should absolutely get tested. You should also get tested if you were in a packed room and you were not sure how many people were vaccinated.

The governor noted the vaccines are extremely effective in blocking COVID infection, 99.88% according to the latest state Health Department analysis, but “it’s always better to know what the facts are and then you can make more intelligent decisions.”

Murphy said he’s been traveling around the state in recent days campaigning for re-election, and he is now getting tested for COVID every Monday (he’s negative) to limit the possibility of passing the virus on to anyone he comes in contact with.

Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the New Jersey Health Department, said the vaccines are excellent but they’re not 100% perfect.

He said in a large room with a small number of people he is not concerned but “in an indoor area where I think there may be a lot of unvaccinated people around me, I’m going to be more concerned."

He suggested wearing a mask and getting tested after being in that situation.

He noted if you’re vaccinated and get COVID you probably will not get very sick, but “it doesn’t mean they can’t spread it and it doesn’t mean if they’re around somebody who is more vulnerable they might have a much worse outcome.”

Persichilli noted about 32,000 NJ residents are now being tested for COVID every day.

NJ arrests 31 accused child predators in "Operation 24/7"

A roundup of 31 men have been accused of sexually exploiting children online, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on July 14 while detailing "Operation 24/7."

The suspects “possessed and or distributed videos and images of child sexual abuse, including in many cases videos of young children being raped by adults,” Grewal said.

Chat apps and gaming platforms remain favorite hunting grounds for child predators and even as the pandemic winds down, many children have continued to spend more time online.

State Police received 39% more tips in just the first 6 months of 2021 than they received in the entire year in 2019. The following are suspects charged in "Operation 24/7."

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