HILLSBOROUGH, NJ - Several youth recreational and competitive sports programs have been suspended due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases first reported by Mayor Douglas Tomson in a Health Advisory issued on Friday, Sept. 18.
Tomson confirmed the first person to test positive was associated with DC Gymnastics, a sprawling indoor athletic facility located in a building on Jill Court.
Quickly following Tomson's advisory was an email from Dr. Lisa Antunes, superintendent of schools, informing parents of the outbreak:
"This letter is to inform you that several individuals on several sports or athletic teams (recreation and/or school sponsored) have tested positive for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)," Antunes said.
"The District is coordinating closely with public health officials and following CDC, state, and local health department guidance in order to ensure the health and safety of our community.
"If your child is on a team (recreation and/or school sponsored) that has been put on hold for any length of time, your child is NOT PERMITTED to attend games or practices on any teams until the quarantine period is over."
DC Gymnastics offers a myriad of recreational and instructional programs for children, from pre-K through 17 years old, including preschool classes, kindergarten classes, girls and boys recreation classes, tumbling classes, JOGA and USAG competivie teams, birthday parties and Friday night open gym.
Like all similar facilities statewide, DC Gym had been subjected to closure until recently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The gym is now closed, according to Township Clerk Pam Borek.
In certain circumstances the individuals who have tested positive are either asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms of COVID-19, according to Tomson.
"The individuals who have tested positive have also had contacts across other community activities," the mayor said in his advisory.
"If you feel you've been exposed, you should absolutely be tested," Tomson said. Several chain store pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreen's and Rite Aid offer low- or no-cost testing at some locations, according to Tomson.
The New Jersey COVID-19 information center online offers a list of testing locations: https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing
It is unknown how many children and adults have been tested for the CODID-19 virus; Tomson said he will release numbers Monday afternoon.
“Our Health Team is taking all the necessary precautions to protect our community,” he said.
Township Health Officer Siobhan Spano and her staff have been contacting individuals since Friday to conduct contact tracing.
"If you receive a call from Hillsborough Township Health Department regarding your activities, please return their call promptly. Your cooperation is extremely important," Tomson said. "If you have tested positive or if you receive a call from someone you know who has tested positive, please contact the Hillsborough Township Health Department immediately at 908-369-5652, Monday through Friday 8 am until 4:30 pm, or email during non-business hours to firstname.lastname@example.org."
“It is imperative that you provide accurate and complete information to our contact tracers so that we can protect all of our residents,” Spano said.
If you test positive, you can be contagious even if you do not have any symptoms. Just as a reminder, all positive tests need to be reported to the Health Department, according to Borek.
In her email to parents, Antunes said the district's nine school buildings continue to be disinfected - "all exposed areas/equipment will be completed as appropriate," she said.
"The school is also taking precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of viruses and other germs and is cleaning frequently touched surfaces daily. The status of this situation is fluid, and we are monitoring it closely.," she added. "We understand the level of concern regarding COVID-19."
Antunes also suggested:
• Staying home when you are sick;
• Washing hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds;
• Covering coughs and sneezes and properly disposing of tissues;
• Limiting close contact with people who are sick and not sharing food, drinks and utensils;
• Practicing social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart);
• Wearing a face covering while in school; and
• Continuing to monitor your health for symptoms.
"As always, we appreciate our community’s support and cooperation. You can assist us by remaining vigilant but sensible in your approach to dealing with this health concern. We cannot stress the importance of reporting positive tests or contact with a person/people they know to be a positive case to the Hillsborough Township Health Department," Antunes said.
Since the global pandemic took hold earlier this year, Hillsborough has had more than 500 cases, with 75 COVID-19 related deaths reported in Hillsborough, several of whom were residents of long-term care facilities in the township.
As of Saturday, Sept. 19, New Jersey had recorded 199,309 cases and 14,273 deaths with 6,943,461 cases and 203,455 deaths recorded in the United States.
Worldwide, there are 30,827,305 cases and 958,514 deaths attributed to COVID-19.