By Vin Gopal, Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey
As you head to the beach on Memorial Day weekend or to your favorite reopened local store, your careful attention to social distancing and following the recommendations of health professionals will be critical in determining the success of reopening our economy. Stay safe by making sure you and your children continue proper handwashing and wear masks when your family ventures out to beaches, parks and stores.
If you take your family for a day at the beach, making sure you and your children practice social distancing will ensure everyone has a safe holiday. It may be tempting to take the kids to a beach playground, but remember they remain off-limits, as are water fountains.
We are all anxious to get out to local shops and stores that are reopening – with restrictions – under the governor’s rollback of the ban on non-essential retail businesses. But you will have to order online for curbside pickup as in-person store visits are still prohibited. And ordering online for pickup or delivery is a great way to enjoy – and support – your favorite restaurants.
Like many Monmouth County residents, we draw strength from our faith and the human connection of being part of a religious community. For us, the rollback of restrictions to allow drive-thru events like religious services is great news. Even following social distancing rules and staying in the car cannot diminish our sense of community and the spiritual rewards it provides – even if we have to keep our windows closed when we’re within six feet to another car.
The phased reopening of our economy will depend on the data for new cases, hospital admissions and other indicators of how COVID-19 is spreading. Robust and widespread testing for the virus and contact tracing to identify people who have been exposed to COVID-19 are essential to determining how quickly the economy can safely reopen. Identifying people infected with COVID-19 through tests and tracing their travels to identify and warn people they have been in contact with enables people to self-quarantine and reduce the chances of making coworkers and others sick. If you would like to apply for one of 5,000 contact tracing jobs the state plans to fill, you can visit covid19.nj.gov/tracer to fill out an application.
The state plans to double testing capacity to 20,000 a day by the end of May, and to 25,000 by the end of June. Rutgers University is using $6 billion in federal funds to scale up production of its saliva-based test kits to test up to 50,000 people daily. Commercial pharmacies, including Rite Aid and CVS, are offering tests at a growing number of locations. For comprehensive information about testing and test sites visit the New Jersey COVID-19 Hub, at covid19.nj.gov.
You also may want to visit our new website, LD11Recovery.com, which we created as a tool to help residents of our 11th Legislative District, from Red Bank to Freehold to Neptune and everything in-between. You’ll find information about local resources and services such as a list of operating local restaurants, resources for small businesses and unemployed workers, as well as assistance for household expenses, and a list of COVID-19 legislation.
We can all contribute to a safer reopening by carefully practicing social distancing and taking other precautions. So keep washing your hands, wearing a protective mask and gloves where appropriate, and socialize at a safe distance as businesses reopen and we will get through this together.