WOODBRIDGE – The township reported 179 new COVID-19 cases over a four-day period, which brings the total number of cases to 7,979, according to Mayor John McCormac in his coronavirus report on Feb. 5.
Seventy new cases of COVID-19 were reported for Feb. 1, six new cases were reported for Feb. 2, 60 new cases were reported for Feb. 3 and 43 new cases were reported for Feb. 4.
“The six [new cases were] clearly an outlier because of the snow storm so all averages are down, but we obviously cannot read too much into that,” McCormac said.
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 state reported zero new cases from their facilities over the four-day period. The total number of cases at the facilities remain at 837.
There are 68 COVID-19 cases reported from 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 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 – a 65-year-old male, a 65-year-old female, a 78-year-old male and a 78-year-old female – to COVID-19, which brings the total number of residents lost to 142 in the general population, 22 residents lost from state facilities and 28 residents lost from the St. Joseph’s Nursing Home.
“Although the number of cases was at an all-time high in December and January, the severity of cases is much milder than when COVID-19 first hit last spring,” McCormac said. “We have lost 152 residents in just under 11 months, but half of them came in just six weeks during April and the first two weeks of May.”
The township had been chosen by the state and Middlesex County to assist in the distribution of the Moderna vaccine. According to regulations established by Gov. Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 Task Force, the first doses are allocated to health care professionals and emergency medical technicians. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave emergency use approval to the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 18.
Residents who work in the healthcare field and first responders in category 1A can make an appointment to get the vaccine at the township’s Health Center next to the Woodbridge Library. For more information call 732-855-0600 ext. 5004.
Category 1B includes people over 65 and people between 16 and 64 with specific medical conditions and it is next on the list after first responders and health care workers.
Any currently licensed doctor or nurse, active or retired, who wishes to work on a part-time basis with compensation to assist with the vaccine distribution can call the Health Department at 732-855-0600 ext. 5026 and ask for Kim.
The township has trained all of its senior center employees to help the senior citizen population register for the vaccine with the state Department of Health. The township has established a hotline for people to call at 732-726-6264.
The township is sponsoring a blood drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 17 in Council Chambers. To register call 201-251-3703 or log on to vitalant.org.
The Woodbridge Recreation Department is collecting Valentine’s Day cards to be distributed to seniors through the Department of Senior Services. The cards will be collected in the Woodbridge Community Center lobby in the red decorated box.
The township is running a Woodbridge wide girls softball league for kids from kindergarten through 9th grade with a goal toward participation. For more information call 732-596-4048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list generated of local businesses and restaurants offering outside dining are on the township’s website and Facebook pages. Effective Feb. 5, restaurants can expand to 35% of capacity for indoor dining and the new limit also applies to indoor entertainment and recreation areas including The Club at Woodbridge and The Woodbridge Community Center along with personal care services.
Senior centers Colonia, Hickory in Fords, Sycamore in Port Reading and Five Branches in Iselin, reopened on June 22, on a limited basis. There will be no luncheons or large gatherings, but seniors can call in advance to schedule times to visit for crafts, games or other recreational activities, McCormac said.
Woodbridge Center and all indoor malls reopened on June 29. Woodbridge Center will open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information visit www.woodbridgecenter.com.
The Woodbridge Main Library has eliminated Sunday hours and is the only library open during the week. The other library branches – Fords, Colonia and Iselin – will continue curbside pickup and drop-off. For more information visit woodbridgelibrary.org or call 732-634-4450.
The Main Library has virtual programs and exhibits for Black History Month plus Valentine’s Day crafts for pickup, a cooking program, a virtual Movie Trivia Night and a February Family Winter Reading Challenge.
The library has launched a next generation mobile library app called “WPL on the Go,” which can be downloaded on Google Play or the Apple Store. The app offers everything at the library plus library-sponsored events.
We Feed Woodbridge is a coalition of 11 food pantries and a soup kitchen. 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 township is now serving double the normal number of families through its 11 food pantries.
The township’s Have-A-Heart food drive kicks off next week with a request for donations of $214 or 214 pounds of food by Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day – from businesses in town.
Donations of food, gift cards and checks for the food banks can be dropped off at Town Hall, the Main Library, Health Department, Barron Arts Center and Woodbridge Community Center. Checks can be made payable to We Feed Woodbridge and mailed to the Mayor’s Office at 1 Main St., Woodbridge, NJ 07095.
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.
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.
The Avenel Performing Arts Center reopened on Oct. 1 with a full schedule, but limited capacity.
Bulk pickups have restarted. To schedule a bulk pickup call 732-738-1311 ext. 3600.
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 began on June 22.
Playgrounds at county parks – Merrill Park in Iselin, Alvin P. Williams Park in Sewaren,
Warren Park in Woodbridge, and Fords Park in Fords – reopened July 2.
The mayor continues to urge 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 and vaccine scams for COVID-19.
For more COVID-19 information, visit covid19.nj.gov. Visit www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us for local information.