N.J. coronavirus update: Wedding receptions, sleepaway camps can resume

Philadelphia sprayground summer camps

Spraygrounds in Philadelphia opened for the season on July 6, 2020, and kids at Mander playground were among the first to enjoy the streams. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Updated: 5 p.m.

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Ask us about COVID-19: What questions do you have about the coronavirus and vaccines?

New Jersey reported Wednesday 2,957 new positive PCR tests and 900 new positive Antigen tests, bringing the total of lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections to 799,476. 

The number of deaths from the coronavirus has crossed 21,000 with 63 additional mortalities, raising the death toll to 21,052. Officials are looking into 2,397 probable deaths. As of Tuesday night, 1,921 residents have been hospitalized, 403 are in intensive care while 243 are on ventilators.

Weddings, sleepaway camps can resume

Gov. Phil Murphy announced during his coronavirus briefing Wednesday that wedding receptions may proceed to start Friday morning at 35% of a venue’s indoor capacity of up to 150 people and up to 150 people outdoors.

“Because we know these events take time to plan and we see things slowly moving in the right direction, we can safely take this step as we slowly recover,” he said. “We want people to celebrate the good things.”

Indoor receptions must follow the same guidance for indoor dining. Facemasks will be required unless attendees are eating and drinking at their table.

In addition, sleepaway summer camps can resume operations this summer.

Murphy described camps and wedding receptions as needing “a long runway.”

“When you look at summer camps and wedding receptions, they have one thing very much in common: they take months to plan,” he said.

Utility and internet shut off moratoriums extended

Gov. Murphy said he will sign an executive order to extend a moratorium on utility and internet shut-offs through “at least June 30th.”

The moratorium — which covers gas, water, and electricity shut-offs, as well as internet shut-offs for households with children using the internet for educational purposes — have effectively been in place for utilities since last March and for the internet since April.

“We will continue to work on easing the burden for residents with arrearages, especially as congress works on a new round of COVID relief,” the governor said.

Murphy reflects one year after first COVID-19 case

Thursday marks one year since New Jersey announced its first presumptive positive case of COVID-19.

Gov. Murphy declared the first public health emergency on March 9, 2020, and it has been renewed monthly ever since. The next day, officials confirmed the state’s first death from the coronavirus.

The governor reflected on the anniversary Wednesday, starting with the early days of the pandemic when there was a scramble for personal protective equipment to now with people getting vaccinated. He said officials began meeting in January 2020 and convened the first task force meeting in February on Super Bowl Sunday.

“More than a year ago, we knew we would have to prepare our state – and each of you – for the worst and hope for the best,” he said. “None of us could even imagine what it was we would ultimately be up against.”

He credited the actions of his administration and the sacrifices residents have made for helping to mitigate the effects of the virus.

“Because of our actions last March and the sacrifices of all of our residents, the crippling worst case scenarios we feared for our hospitals — numbers that would have essentially broken our health care system — did not come to pass,” he said.

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