NJ to allow graduation ceremonies in July; pro sports teams may resume

By KYW Newsradio 1060

UPDATED: 5:30 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More coronavirus restrictions are being eased in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that he will allow outdoor graduation ceremonies this summer, and professional sports teams may begin training.

On Twitter, before his coronavirus media briefing, the governor announced that, starting July 6, New Jersey high schools and colleges — any schools — may hold outdoor graduation ceremonies, as long as social distancing measures are in place. 

"We want them to celebrate and to be celebrated by their families, friends and the educators who helped get them there," the governor said.

TO THE CLASS OF 2020: Beginning July 6th, schools WILL have the opportunity to hold outdoor graduation ceremonies that comply with social distancing – ensuring the health and safety of all in attendance. -- pic.twitter.com/MqwVtPjZh4

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 26, 2020

Murphy said large classes may need to be split up into several sessions to ensure proper spacing between people. 

"This guidance may require multiple ceremonies to be held across different times and even different days to ensure proper social distancing."

The governor said specifics — such as how many people would be allowed to attend — would be forthcoming from the state education department.

Murphy also announced that professional sports teams may begin training and playing in New Jersey if their leagues give the OK. The Flyers train in Voorhees, and the 76ers' practice complex is in Camden.

UPDATE: Professional sports teams in NJ may return to training and even competition – if their leagues choose to move in that direction. We have been in constant discussions with teams about necessary protocols to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, and personnel. pic.twitter.com/yMrCFtSyqY

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 26, 2020

The 76ers confirmed that training will resume Wednesday with a “phased reopening for voluntary, individual workouts.”

“Players and essential staff will adhere to strict safeguards in accordance with NBA guidelines,” said the team on Twitter.

Following today’s announcement by Gov. Murphy, the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex in Camden, New Jersey will begin a phased reopening tomorrow for voluntary, individual workouts. Players and essential staff will adhere to strict safeguards in accordance with NBA guidelines. pic.twitter.com/DI3G0vfNYg

— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 26, 2020

Murphy said the moves are possible because the spread of the virus is slowing considerably, and that the state is moving closer to Phase 2, when more restrictions can be lifted.

Underlying all of it, said the governor, is continued adherence to the health and safety of all involved. 

State health officials reported 703 new cases of COVID-19, for a statewide total of 155,764. In addition, Murphy said, 54 more deaths from the illness were reported since his last briefing. The total number of New Jersey dead from the virus is at least 11,191.

New cases at nursing homes and long-term care facilities are far down from the peak, said the governor. And key hospital measurements are continuing to trend in a direction that he said is allowing the state to move forward.

New Jersey hospitals have 2,723 COVID-19 patients, which is about 1,500 fewer than two weeks ago, he said. The number of patients in critical and intensive care is down to 786, about 450 fewer than two weeks ago. The number of ventilators in use has dropped by 350 from two weeks ago.

And while 134 people were hospitalized with the coronavirus on Monday, he said, almost as many, 131 patients, were discharged on the same day.

Camden County officials are encouraging every resident over age 18 to get a coronavirus test. The overarching goal is to collect more data.

Officials say that, because about one-third of the people who get COVID-19 are asymptomatic, they're are asking everyone to get tested.RiteAid in Barrington has a large stock of tests available, and other stores such as CVS and Walmart are increasing stock in the coming weeks.“If you do test positive, we will be able to do contact tracing, make sure you get health care, and make sure those you came in contact with are tested as well, Freeholder Lou Cappelli said.

He says people don’t need a doctor’s referral to register for a test at RiteAid.com.“If you are a first responder and want to get tested, you can register to get tested at our Blackwood testing site.”He says essential workers can register for tests at CamdenCounty.com

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KYW Newsradio's Mike DeNardo, Mike Dougherty and Eric Walter contributed to this report.