Woodbridge new COVID-19 cases remain low, restaurants gearing up for outdoor dining

WOODBRIDGE – Woodbridge officials reported seven new positive COVID-19 cases over the weekend, which bring the total number of cases to 1,566, according to Mayor John McCormac in his daily report on June 8.

There were two new cases reported for June 5, one new case reported for June 6, and four new cases reported for June 7.

“Our weekly totals have gone from 132 five weeks ago down to only 26 last week, which is our lowest seven day stretch since the very first week ending March 22,” he said. “There were no new cases all weekend from state facilities or health care facilities.”

The number of COVID-19 cases include East Jersey State Prison and a number of related state facilities in the Avenel section of the township. The total number of cases at the facilities is 302.

There are 67 reported cases at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home and Assisted Living Facility. 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 six more residents to COVID-19, which bring the total lost to 77 residents in the general population, nine residents from the state facilities and 26 residents from the St. Joseph’s Nursing Home.

McCormac said the additional number of deaths probably date back to May.

“Typically at the end of a month reconciliations are done between the Health Department and the Township Clerk’s office that often add to our count,” he said. “Regardless of when they passed, we still need to keep all victims in our thoughts and prayers.”

The township issued an executive order on outdoor dining in the township on June 4 with proper public safety and emergency access conditions addressed. Gov. Phil Murphy announced outdoor dining will resume on June 15.

Limited in-person retail will also start on June 15. A list generated of local businesses is on the township’s website and Facebook pages.

The governor announced hair salons, barber shops and daycare centers can reopen on June 22 and youth summer programs can open on July 6.

Weeklong summers camps will begin on July 6 at Merrill Park, The Club at Woodbridge’s KidSports and the Woodbridge Community Center. The Avenel Performing Arts Center will offer camps for singing, dancing and acting and Curtains Restaurant will offer camps for cooking. The township will also hold a number of recreation programs, summer enrichment classes for robotics, computers, sign language and many virtual camps will be available.

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.

With national reports indicating that as many as one in five children suffer from food deprivation and township officials reporting a 33% increase in utilization of the township’s food pantries, community efforts to collect food and money really never ends, McCormac said.

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.

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.

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, all at Woodbridge High School to allow proper social distancing.

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.

McCormac said once the state raises the number of people who can gather, the township can start scheduling individual yard and garage sales. The township will schedule dates by section of town in the fall for the township’s usual large scale sales.

Basketball hoops and playground equipment at municipal parks are now open for use. Township officials remind the public organized games are not permitted and encourage people to be careful and diligent about cleaning equipment before and after usage. The township will continue to also diligently clean the equipment. Non-contact organized sports can begin on June 22.

McCormac said the changes do not include county parks – Merrill Park in Iselin, Alvin P. Williams Park in Sewaren, Warren Park in Woodbridge, and Fords Park in Fords – which are not within the township’s jurisdiction.

The mayor continues to 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.