RARITAN TWP. - Raritan Township is seeing what Emergency Management Coordinator Christopher Phelan termed “a great slowdown” when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raritan Township has 158 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday. With 21 confirmed deaths, the township still leads Hunterdon County in the number of fatalities from the virus.

Hunterdon HealthCare reports that seven patients are in their hospital being treated for COVID-19 out of 102 total patients.  As of Tuesday, the hospital discharged 200 COVID patients to recover at home.

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Phelan, who updated the township committee at their meeting Tuesday, said Hunterdon and Somerset counties continue to collaborate on a joint testing site at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg.  The site will be operating again on June 4.  

He noted that the private test site at the Walmart on State Route 31 is also an option for residents.

Township officials welcomed Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement from Monday that New Jersey would soon be moving into Stage 2 of reopening. Under that plan, outdoor dining and nonessential retail stores would reopen June 15, followed by hair salons and barbershops a week later.  

Youth summer programs would be allowed to begin in July.

“We’re anxious to get the guidelines,” Phelan said. “We really want to get them as soon as possible so we can get those to businesses in the township and make sure they have the resources to open up.”

The return of youth programs was extremely welcomed news for Committeeman Lou Reiner.

“The social isolation is killing the kids,” said Reiner. “It’s doing a whole hell of a lot more harm to them than the virus could ever do.”