It has been almost 10 weeks since Governor Murphy issued a stay-at-home order and closed all non-essential businesses in New Jersey. Since that time, over 11,000 NJ residents and almost 100,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 infections. The stark reality of these numbers is startling.
However, on the positive side it appears that our strict adherence to social distancing and other public health guidelines has resulted in a decrease in new cases of COVID-19 and a decrease in the rate of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, which peaked in New Jersey on April 14. This is definitely encouraging news.
In Randolph, we have reported 277 confirmed COVID-19 infections among our residents, 20 of which resulted in death. Currently, three residents remain hospitalized, while 210 infections have resolved. Many people feel that we have made it through the worst. However, public health officials are urging caution and warning of the potential for spikes in reported cases and a second wave of infections if we don’t continue to follow the guidelines that got us this far.
With nicer weather and warmer temperatures, many of us are eager to get outside and back to some kind of normal. People are anxious to get back to work and to have businesses safely re-open. The Governor has begun to ease restrictions and has announced that many others will likely be lifted over the next several weeks if we continue to see progress based on monitoring of key indicators.
It’s important to remember that the drop in the number of new cases and the drop in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are the result of all the social distancing practices we have adopted including staying at home, avoiding crowds, increased hand washing, wearing of face masks, increased sanitization of public places, installation of safety shields at businesses and limits on the number of shoppers allowed in a business at one time, etc. The list of safety measures that have been implemented in the past few months is long. The virus hasn’t gone away. We are just doing a better job of controlling its spread because of all the lifestyle changes we have made.
So while it’s great to see New Jersey start to re-open, please continue to be cautious. We are not returning to the way life used to be. In Randolph, we can now play golf and go to the driving range. The Randolph community garden has opened. The Jersey Shore has opened. Non-essential businesses can now offer curbside pickup. Elective medical procedures can be scheduled. Outdoor gatherings can now include up to 25 people. The next phase of re-openings will reportedly include expanded retail, outdoor dining, indoor dining at reduced capacity, and the re-opening of barber shops, beauty salons and gyms.
But as New Jersey re-opens, we must continue to practice safe social distancing. We have to continue to take it seriously, make it a priority and follow public health guidelines. We can’t become complacent, or we risk having more people get sick. If you are not worried about contracting the virus or getting sick, please do it to protect your friends, family members and neighbors who may be more vulnerable.
Thanks for your cooperation. Stay safe.