A New Jersey couple were charged with five counts of child endangerment after police on Sunday broke up a gathering of 40-50 people at their Lakewood home.
Eliezer Silber, 37, and Miriam Silber, 34, endangered their five children by hosting the guests in violation of a statewide ban on social gatherings, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement. They were also charged with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor.
In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Phil Murphy on March 21 issued a stay-at-home order, which prohibited all weddings, parties, celebrations or other social events. Neighboring New York and Connecticut, which together comprise the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, enacted similar orders along with a number of other states.
Millions of people and businesses have been effected, and the U.S. economy has been derailed.
Trump on Sunday extended his national stay-at-home guidelines until the end of April. He dropped a plan to get the economy up and running by mid-April after Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said as many as 200,000 Americans could die from the coronavirus outbreak.
On Saturday, the Trump administration issued a travel advisory warning for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised the states’ residents against non-essential domestic travel for 14 days. It said the warning did not apply to employees of “critical infrastructure industries” including trucking, public health and financial services.
Trump had mooted the idea of imposing a travel ban on the states but backed off following protests from governors, including Andrew Cuomo of New York. Health efforts also advised the president against the move, officials told Reuters.
The couple charged with child endangerment aren’t the only coronavirus skeptics
In Lakewood, Jersey, home to a large Orthodox Jewish population, police reported breaking up three other gatherings in the past week.
“As I have previously stated, it is my sworn duty to protect all of the residents of Ocean County. That obligation applies across the board,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer. “My Office will prosecute any individual who defies or breaks the law, State of Emergency or otherwise. Everyone must respect and follow the law. The men & women of the Lakewood Police Department have done an exceptional job in the face of a public health crisis. Their efforts are truly commendable.”
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the spreading coronavirus, has reached 2,513, with more than 143,000 people having tested positive for the disease, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracking website. Globally, nearly 738,000 people have been infected and more than 35,000 have died.