New Jersey parks and golf courses reopen as COVID-19 hospitalizations slowly drop

A sign at a Gloucester Township park welcoming people back, as parks and golf courses in New Jersey reopened Saturday, with strict social distancing requirements.
Photo credit Greg Orlandini/KYW Newsradio

UPDATED: 5:40 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Parks and golf courses in New Jersey reopened at sunrise on Saturday, although social distancing is still required.

This isn’t a back to normal scenario. Courses are open in a limited capacity. Only one person is allowed to a cart, unless you’re in the same household. Clubhouses will have very limited activity, and you can't sit in the restaurant to enjoy a sandwich after nine holes. 

Golf courses in Pennsylvania opened Friday.

Parks are open too, sort of. There will be no public restrooms, food vendors or indoor activities. If you want to go fishing or take a hike or run, that’s fine. Camden County freeholder Jon Young stressed residents need to be smart out there.

"Our park ambassadors will be out in force to help with social distancing, but it all boils down to our residents, the people, being smart and we can make it work," he said.

Young warned large gatherings will be broken up, and if people really struggle to follow the rules, Gov. Phil Murphy will shut everything down again.

Murphy said of the reopening, "So far, so good." Police have reported that people are adhering to social distancing and related guidelines. This is as hospitalizations are continuing to slowly drop across the state.

"Since the peak in the northern region on April 14, we've seen a 41% decrease in hospitalizations in that region. Over that same period, we saw a 26% decrease in hospitalizations in the central region. However, we continue to see increasing hospitalizations in the south with some leveling over the past two days," said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

She also reported some people in the state may have postponed critical care for things like strokes and heart attacks, and that isn't a good idea. She added that New Jersey hospitals have been able to treat almost 60,000 non-coronavirus patients during the crisis, 90% of whom successfully returned home while 8% were transferred to alternate care facilities.

Murphy reported 2,912 new cases of COVID-19 in the state Saturday, raising New Jersey's total to 123,717, with 378 new hospitalizations.

205 additional fatalities were confirmed as well, raising the state's death toll to 7,742.

Murphy also announced during his Saturday briefing that 53 New Jersey hospitals will receive $1.7 billion in direct federal assistance, with no paperwork required.

Camden County reports new cases

Camden County's Department of Health reported 126 new positive cases of COVID-19 Saturday, lifting the county's total to 3,347. 138 total fatalities have been confirmed.

County officials have begun tracing close contacts of the newest cases.

KYW Newsradio's Mike Dougherty, David Madden, and Andre Bennett contributed to this story.
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