This is our daily update of breaking COVID-19 news for Tuesday, October 13th, 2020. Previous daily updates can be found here, and up-to-date statistics are here.

New York City is in Phase 4 of reopening now, which includes zoos, botanical gardens, museums, and gyms. Certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens are under a zoned shutdown. A look at preparing for the spread of coronavirus is here, and if you have lingering questions about the virus, here is our regularly updated coronavirus FAQ. Here are some local and state hotlines for more information: NYC: 311; NY State Hotline: 888-364-3065; NJ State Hotline: 800-222-1222.

Here's the latest:

3:30 p.m. Governor Phil Murphy announced 993 coronavirus cases and 649 new virus-related hospitalizations, two worrying indicators that have been on the rise due to upticks across the state.

Tuesday's report marked the seventh straight day that hospitalizations related to COVID-19 across the state were above 600, according to Should the pace of daily cases keep up, the state may soon find itself on the list of states and U.S. territories from which travelers to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are required to quarantine.

At the peak of the epidemic last spring, New Jersey was recording more than 3,000 cases a day.

Like New York, some of the new cases have been attributed to religious gatherings. Lakewood township in Ocean County, which is home to a large Orthodox Jewish population, is one of the leading hotspots.

Last week, State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli spoke of New Jersey anticipating a second wave and warned residents to continue social distancing, wearing face masks and washing their hands.

But on Monday, Murphy signed an executive order allowing certain organized sports, including basketball and ice hockey, to resume contact practices and indoor games, provided that certain health rules were followed.

On Tuesday, the governor defended his decision by saying that the new cases were not linked to athletic activities.

The state is also seeking to increase the limit on indoor dining, which is currently set at 25 percent capacity, although Murphy has not yet specified a date.

In other news, state and local health officials have not identified any virus outbreaks linked to a fundraiser held by President Donald Trump on October 1st at his Bedminster country club. Trump announced he had test positive for coronavirus hours after mingling with wealthy supporters at the event, with no mask on.

Of the 206 individuals who attended the fundraiser with the President, the state Department of Health has been able to contact 184 to advise them on self-monitoring and testing. 

"At this time, no known positive cases have been reported related to the Bedminster event. Given the 14-day monitoring window, the contact tracing investigation is still ongoing," the NJ Health Department said in a statement.

Karen Yi contributed reporting.

Cases Remain Near De Blasio's Daily Threshold, But Mayor Won't Say What Happens If We Pass It

Mayor Bill de Blasio at an October 13th press briefing.

Mayor's Office YouTube

12:20 p.m.: As New York City tries to fend off an uptick in coronavirus cases across hotspots in Brooklyn and Queens, the number of daily COVID-cases has climbed to levels that officials previously designated a warning threshold.

On October 11th, the city reached 520 new cases over a seven-day average—30 below the 550 threshold line, the latest figures from Mayor Bill de Blasio show. The seven-day average positivity rate was 1.48%, while the daily rate rose to 1.9%.

But the mayor has not said what exactly he would propose to do should NYC reach those set markers—such as imposing further shutdowns beyond the current “red zone” hotspots.

“The indicators are meant to give us a public measure that we all talk about openly, helping the people in the city to see where things are going, so we all understand what to do in response,” de Blasio said during a Tuesday press briefing.

Each day, the mayor updates New Yorkers on three indicators with “thresholds” the city is monitoring that would trigger a response: new cases, the seven-day average for the positivity rate, and hospitalizations.

“The case numbers have gone up the most, but that’s of course because of very much intensified testing,” the mayor said, noting the city had recently conducted 250,000 tests in one week. Should all three indicators rise citywide, that would indicate a “bigger challenge” than the localized rise in cases, he added.

“This week will be absolutely decisive,” de Blasio said. “This is a decisive week in our battle against the coronavirus. This is the week we can start to turn the tide in those red zone areas and contain the problem that we’re seeing there.”

Fifty-nine people remained hospitalized for coronavirus symptoms, well below the 200-person threshold. Though the city saw a rise last week in hospitalizations, the mayor said those numbers have remained “surprisingly stable.”

“We’re still keeping a close eye on that,” de Blasio said. By the end of the week, the city should be able to determine whether the two-week closures will be sufficient to prevent further outbreak and if restrictions could be relaxed, with state approval, he added.

On Friday, mandatory monthly sampling of coronavirus tests began in NYC schools. So far, one person tested positive for the virus among 1,751 tests at 56 schools. Parents and faculty are expected to sign consent forms to undergo testing. When asked about how many people have responded to the consent forms, de Blasio did not yet have specific numbers to share.

People wear face masks as they walk on Bedford Avenue in the Williamsburg neighborhood of New York.

Johnson & Johnson Halts Vaccine Trial Due To Sick Participant

Johnson & Johnson has stopped a 60,000 patient coronavirus vaccine trial after one of its participants developed an unexplained illness.

"We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our COVID-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials, including the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant," the drugmaker said in a statement on Monday, referring to the name of its large-scale vaccine trial. "Following our guidelines, the participant’s illness is being reviewed and evaluated by the ENSEMBLE independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) as well as our internal clinical and safety physicians."

Johnson & Johnson did not provide details about the illness, saying that it needed to protect the patient's privacy. But it stressed that so-called adverse events, which include illness and accidents, "are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies."

This marks the second large-scale trial that was forced to pause due to illnesses among participants. AstraZeneca has halted its trial twice after two women developed neurological symptoms after getting its vaccine. The trial has resumed in Britain, Brazil, India and South Africa, but is still on pause in the United States.

Stat first reported on Monday that a document sent to outside researchers running the trial stated that a “pausing rule” has been met and that the online enrollment system for patients had been closed.

Including the Johnson & Johnson candidate, there are currently four promising experimental vaccine undergoing phase 3 trials, the final test of a drug's safety and efficacy. But Johnson & Johnson had been working on testing a single dose shot as opposed to other companies that required individuals to come back for a second or third dose. Unlike its competitors, which will require their vaccines to be frozen or kept in ultracold temperatures, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be stored in liquid form at refrigerator temperatures for three months.

The first vaccine is expected to be approved by the end of the year and ready for distribution in early 2021.

The New York Times reports that many experts predict the vaccine process will be a chaotic and frustrating process, with the first set of vaccines offering only a moderate or spotty level of immunity.