Woodbridge COVID-19 curve flattening, bars, VFW posts added to list for outdoor dining

WOODBRIDGE – Woodbridge officials reported four new positive COVID-19 cases, which bring the total number of cases to 1,586, according to Mayor John McCormac in his daily report on June 12.

“Four has been our daily average in June so far,” he said. “For a reference point, on April 12 we reported 21 cases and on May 12 we reported 13 cases so we clearly are moving in the right direction and the curve is really flattening in Woodbridge.”

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. There was one new case reported, which bring the total number of cases at the facilities to 305.

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 four more residents to COVID-19 in the general population, which bring the total to 87 residents lost, six more residents from state facilities, which bring the total lost to 16 residents, and 26 residents from the St. Joseph’s Nursing Home.

McCormac said the reported deaths date back to April and May.

“Paperwork always takes time to get to us plus in many cases the causes of death are changed after an original diagnosis to indicate COVID-19 as the ultimate reason for someone passing,” he said. “Regardless of when, where or how people passed away, they were Woodbridge residents and we should always keep them and those who are sick 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.

Three new bar/restaurants have been approved for outdoor dining – Center Bar in Port Reading, Big Shots in Iselin and Lemon Tree in Fords. The Colonia and Avenel VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) posts were also issued permits for outdoor dining by the state.

Outdoor dining has already been approved for Jose Tejas on Route 1, Moby Dick’s in Sewaren, Knot Just Bagels, Miller’s Ale House, Pino’s Pizza, Trattoria Venezia, Mulberry Street, JJ Bitting’s, Il Castello’s, Chris Michaels and Strawberry’s Pub in Woodbridge; Applebee’s and Bahama Breeze at Woodbridge Center Mall; Perkins, Rasoi, Casa Giuseppe, Bombay Talk, and Yellow Chili and Chowpatty in Iselin; JR’s Pub, Fire and Ice and Roosevelt’s Deli in Fords; Colonia Country Club and Three in One in Colonia and Dominic’s, D’Italia’s, and the township’s Curtains Restaurant in Avenel next to the Avenel Performing Arts Center.

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

The governor announced hair salons, barber shops, nail salons and daycare centers can reopen on June 22 as well as outdoor pools.

The township plans on opening Highland Grove Pool and Spray Park on Highland Terrace June 22 pending a review of guidelines from the state.

McCormac said the guidance from the state on youth summer camps have been confusing regarding indoor versus outdoor activity.

“We are still trying to figure out if the Club at Woodbridge and the Woodbridge Community Center can open for camps,” he said. “We will report our findings immediately once we know the rules.”

Weeklong summers camps expect to 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.

The American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life fundraising event is a Relay at Home this year. It begins at 9 p.m. on June 13 with Light the Fight where people light up their yards. For details contact Amy at AmyRFLWdbg@gmail.com.

An updated list of religious services in person, drive-in or virtually is on the township website.

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.

The township will hold its summer concert series – Doo Wop Monday nights of the 50s and 60s, Rock and Roll Tuesday night tribute bands from the 70s and 80s, Eclectic Wednesday nights, Local Band Thursday nights and Country Band Sundays – at Woodbridge High School to allow proper social distancing.

All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m., shows on Sundays will begin at 6 p.m. Concerts are free with food and refreshments for sale. The township will collect boxes and cans of non-perishable foods at the shows for the local food pantries.

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.

With the increased limits on outside gatherings, the township is permitting individual garage sales again, contact the Township Clerk’s office at 732-634-4500 for a permit.

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 as well as contact tracing 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.