A couple in New Jersey was charged with child endangerment on Monday for hosting a party that violated the state’s ban on social gatherings to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, officials said.
Police broke up a party on Sunday of some 50 adults and children outside Eliezer and Miriam Silber’s home in Lakeland that included the couple’s five kids, according to officials. The couple will have to answer the charges at a future court date.
The Silbers were both charged with five counts of child endangerment, according to a statement by Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.
“My office will prosecute any individual who defies or breaks the law, State of Emergency or otherwise,” said Billhimer. “It is my sworn duty to protect all of the residents of Ocean County.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order banning social gatherings, including weddings and parties, nine days ago as part of the state’s battle to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. Eliezer Silber was also charged with violating that order.
New Jersey law enforcement authorities have dealt with 70 compliance issues statewide regarding the governor’s order. The violations included another party and 34 indictable offenses, New Jersey State Police Col. Patrick Callahan said at a news conference on Monday.
With close to 17,000 COVID-19 cases and 198 deaths related to the illness, New Jersey now has the second-highest number of cases in the nation, second only to New York.
“I shudder to think about what these numbers would be had we not taken the strong stance we have as it pertains to social distancing,” Murphy said on Monday at a press briefing.
Without imposing social distancing restrictions — and compliance — new COVID-19 cases could fill up all the state’s intensive care beds by Wednesday, and its total hospital beds in 10 days, the governor noted.
“This chart is the nightmare scenario we are desperately working to avoid,” Murphy said. “This is why it is absolutely necessary for everyone to stay in unless you need to be out.”