WOODBRIDGE – The township reported 123 new COVID-19 cases over a three-day period, which brings the total number of cases to 9,350, according to Mayor John McCormac in his coronavirus report on March 15.
Sixty-seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported for March 12, 22 new cases were reported for March 13 and 34 new cases were reported for March 14.
“All of our averages are above what we experienced in February into March so we checked the numbers from the County of Middlesex and the State of New Jersey and their caseloads are up similarly to ours so we are not out of the ordinary which is good,” 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 three-day period. The total number of cases at the facilities remain at 840.
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, 2020. 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 one more resident to COVID-19 – a 90-year-old female – which brings the total number of residents lost to 171, 22 residents lost from state facilities and 28 residents lost from the St. Joseph’s Nursing Home.
March 16 marks one-year anniversary of the township’s very first coronavirus call. A state of emergency was put in place, schools and public buildings were closed and events were canceled.
“We announced our first two cases of COVID-19 and we advised you to wash your hands frequently, cough or sneeze into your sleeve, and stay home if you were sick,” McCormac said. “The next 12 months were certainly a challenge and we lost over 200 wonderful people in Woodbridge to this awful pandemic and we can never forget them. We also learned just how talented and dedicated our first responders are and everyday doctors, nurses and workers in the health care field became heroes.”
The mayor further said the individuals, including many who are employed by the township, went above and beyond the call-of-duty in an environment where they risked their own lives to save the lives of others and help them through this awful ordeal.
“All of you in these categories will always have our thanks, our respect and our appreciation for the jobs you did and for the way that you did them,” he said.
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.
Educators from pre-kindergarten to high school and support staff, child care workers, transportation workers and additional public safety workers are now eligible for the vaccines.
On March 29 the following categories are eligible; food production, agriculture, food distribution, eldercare and support staff, warehousing and logistics, social services support staff, elections personnel, hospitality, medical supply chain, postal and shipping services, clergy and anyone in the judicial system.
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’s senior transportation busses can drive people to vaccine appointments in town or at Raritan Center in Edison. Call 732-726-2394.
The Woodbridge CVS drug store on Main Street is now offering vaccinations, which are all handled by appointment through their website at cvs.com/coronavirus. Both doses of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine are offered and inoculations occur at the store.
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.
The state has allowed parental attendance at all high school winter sports contests including basketball and hockey beginning immediately.
Effective March 19 many businesses can be open at 50% of capacity including restaurants, recreational and amusement operations, gyms and fitness clubs, barber shops and salons and other personal care businesses. Indoor gathering limits are increased to 25 from 10 and outdoor gathering limits are increased to 50 from 25 for any events other than religious services, political events, weddings and funerals, which have already been assigned higher limits of 35% of capacity for indoors and a 150 maximum count for outdoors.
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 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.
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.