Woodbridge new COVID-19 cases remain in single digits, mayor addresses racism

WOODBRIDGE – Woodbridge officials reported 12 new positive COVID-19 cases over a three-day period, which bring the total number of cases to 1,539, according to Mayor John McCormac in his daily report on June 1.

There were nine new cases reported for May 30, two new cases reported for May 31 and one new case reported for June 1, officials said.

“We always report a weekly total on Monday, and last week our total number of cases was 34, which is our lowest weekly total since March 22,” he said. “We certainly have started off a new week and a new month on the right foot with only one new case on June 1.”

The number of COVID-19 cases include East Jersey State Prison and related state facilities in the Avenel section of the township. McCormac said the state has reported 17 new cases on May 31 and another 18 on June 1 from the state facilities, which bring the total number of cases to 146.

“It is likely that these cases did not just happen, but rather they are simply sent at the end of the week,” he said. “We care about all victims regardless of where they live, but it is very important to separate out state facilities so our residents are aware of the true impact on their community.”

The total number of cases at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility is 55. The residents at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home devastated by COVID-19 were initially counted in the township’s statistics before residents were moved to another facility out of town on March 25. On April 16, residents started moving back home after a massive cleaning effort. On May 4, the last resident has moved back to the facility.

The township is reporting statistics from the state facilities and nursing home separately. McCormac said tracking the numbers separately – general population, state facilities and health facilities – gives the township a better indication of the real impact on its everyday residents.

The township has lost one more resident to COVID-19 in the general population, which bring the total to 64 deaths, one more resident in the state facilities, which bring the total to eight and 24 residents from St. Joseph’s Nursing Home.

“Let’s keep all those who passed and all those who are still ill in our thoughts and prayers,” he said.

The mayor often ends his daily report with a joke to bring a bit of joy during the pandemic, however, with so much recent “stress and strife” all over the country, he made a decision not to on June 1.

“We pray for all victims of the virus and we should all hope and pray that violence is avoided at all times,” he said. “Everyone has a right to be heard and everyone has a right to express their opinions freely and openly without fear of being endangered.”

Further, McCormac said COVID-19 is a disease and to an extent so is racism.

“One has been around for a few months and the other for a few centuries,” he said. “Both need a cure. We are hopeful that scientists will provide the cure for COVID-19, but only a peaceful dialogue and discussions and understanding of each other’s positions will help to eradicate racism.”

We Feed Woodbridge, a coalition of 11 food pantries and a soup kitchen, surpassed its donation goal with more than $102,000 in monetary donations plus thousands of pounds of food in six weeks. National reports indicate that as many as one in five children suffer from food deprivation and township officials report a 33% increase in utilization of the township’s food pantries.

The Woodbridge Cares effort from Woodbridge High School students has reopened their store for sale of shirts and lawn signs. All the proceeds are turned into gift cards from local stores and restaurants, which are then donated to local food banks as well as Woodbridge Social Services. For more information visit www.woodbridgecares.org.

The township is taking steps toward reopening Town Hall. Most interaction with local government can be done by phone, mail or on-line. Township officials are also accepting appointments if a person needs to meet with someone to conduct business. Phone numbers are on the township’s website or call 732-634-4500.

Hematology and Oncology Associates at 540 Green St. in Iselin and Excel Urgent Care at 740 Route 1 north in Iselin are offering antibody testing. For more information call Hematology and Oncology Associates at 732-913-8500 and for Excel Urgent Care call 732-874-5507.

With Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement of more businesses able to open up for curbside pickup, the township wants to generate a list of all businesses in town with the option. To be on the list call 732-726-6261 or email wbmayor@twp.woodbridge.nj.us. A list generated so far is on the township’s website and Facebook pages.

For hours of operation for the Skyline Mini golf course and batting cages behind the Woodbridge Community Center call 732-596-4000.

Summerfest 2020 has been moved from June 6 to Sept. 5 in Merrill Park, Iselin. McCormac said they hope to have a ceremony during the festival to recognize the residents who passed from COVID-19 and bring together family and loved ones to celebrate their lives as well as to celebrate hero first responders and health care professionals who put their lives on the line to protect and save others.

The township’s annual fireworks display has been moved from July 2 to Sept. 6 in Alvin P. Williams Park in Sewaren.

As of now, the township expects to hold its complete summer concert series. Some locations might move around to larger venues to allow for proper social distancing.

The soup kitchen at Trinity Episcopal Church, 650 Rahway Ave., in Woodbridge is open again from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Friday for a hot lunch to go.

Bulk pickups have restarted. Officials said it will take a couple of weeks to catch up on the pickups for the list of residents who were on the list when the service was initially suspended in March. To schedule a bulk pickup for the second half of June or into July call 732-738-1311 ext. 3600.

The mayor continues to urge social distancing at parks. Playground equipment is off limits and organized games or practices are not allowed. He also urges neighbors to check on people who live alone and cannot leave their homes and to continue to follow the rules and guidelines for social distancing, good personal hygiene, proper disposal of trash and avoiding non-essential travel. He also continues to warn residents of potential fundraising scams for COVID-19.

For more COVID-19 information, visit covid19.nj.gov. Visit www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us for local information.

For Middlesex County information visit discovermiddlesex.com/covid19/ or www.middlesexcountynj.gov/covid19.