youth sports

Spectators Allowed for Indoor Youth Sports

Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order 220 today that will, effective immediately, allow a limited number of spectators at all indoor and outdoor high school and other youth sporting events. Up to two parents or guardians per student athlete under the age of 21 can attend practices or competitions as long as the room’s indoor capacity does not exceed 35% or 150 people in total, whichever is less.

Additionally, all spectators must follow the State Department of Health’s guidance regarding sports activities, which includes requirements to wear masks, observe social distancing measures, and to stay home when one is feeling sick or thinks they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

According to the governor, “School districts also retain the ability to be stricter and not allow any spectators at all should they choose. They can also choose when to implement this new policy if they don’t feel they are ready to do so immediately for this weekend’s games.

“I know many parents have been anxious to get back into the stands to cheer on their student athletes, especially seniors who are in their final season of competition,” Murphy continued. “As the metrics in our hospitals and elsewhere continue to trend more positively, we feel more confident in being able to allow them to do so.”

The governor said he would hate to reverse this course, but “should we see trouble spots, we see no choice but to respond as needed.”

Vaccination Update

The state is preparing to launch its first community-based vaccination sites. The program will be operated by five teams and will serve 10 communities starting next week, including Franklin Township in Somerset County, Trenton and Elizabeth, with Vineland and Paterson quickly to follow. These sites will operate seven days a week for two weeks. They will return and reopen to administer second doses.

“These locations are being strategically placed in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They are some of most diverse and socio-economically challenged communities,” Murphy said, adding that, “these sites will … only be for members of the immediate community. Appointments for vaccinations at these sites will be handled directly through partnering community organizations, places of worship and local community leaders.”

The program is being supported by sponsors including the State Department of Health, the Office of Emergency Management’s All-hazards Incidents Management Team, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Department of Defense, faith leaders, community organizations, and local official and health departments.

Meanwhile, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard reveals a total of 1,244,224 vaccines doses administered to date. This breaks down to 933,160 first doses and 310,529 second doses. “At the rate we are going, which is roughly 30,000 first doses a day, we anticipate exceeding 1 million first doses over the next few days,” Murphy said.

He explained that everyone is “being pinched because of the scarcity of vaccine supply,” as he also discussed the speed at which available appointments at both CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies, which received their own separate vaccine doses through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership, were filled once they became available yesterday and this morning.

Murphy said that while the state’s vaccine allotment from the federal government is increasing, it is not at the point where New Jersey’s six vaccine mega-sites can operate at capacity. However, the governor said he was pleased by the Biden administration’s announcement yesterday that the federal government will buy an additional 200 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of July, in addition to what has already been ordered.

Finally, Murphy urged everyone not to stop COVID-19 testing. “We still need the data that comes from testing to ensure that we identify potential hot spots and take proper action to prevent further spread of the virus,” he said.

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