New Jersey residents woke up on Tuesday to a strange new normal, as state and local governments implemented sweeping restrictions and widespread shutdowns in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
On Tuesday, state officials announced at least 267 cases in New Jersey, including 89 new positive tests for COVID-1. There have now been three reported deaths in the state from the pandemic.
In Ridgewood, NJ Transit trains ran on schedule. Still, ridership was way down during the morning hours, with only a handful of passengers boarding any of the usually crowded morning trains heading toward New Your City. Some had no passengers boarding at all.
Downtown Teaneck was mostly deserted, with shops closed and traffic on the main thoroughfare of Cedar Lane extra light. On Saturday, the mayor of Teaneck had asked residents to voluntarily self-quarantine as a protective measure against the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
The gates were locked, and warning signs were posted on the fences surrounding the township’s Votee Park playground, advising that it would be closed for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus.
Parks in nearby Leonia were also closed off. Yellow police tape wrapped around a children’s playground and jungle gym on Station Parkway, warning people to stay away.
And in Palisades Park, the usually bustling Broad Avenue was quiet, as shops posted signs advising customers they would be closed indefinitely. Some eateries were open for take-out, and delivery workers carried bags of groceries and meals. The borough’s municipal building was closed as well.
Over the weekend, the pandemic turned New York’s area airports into crowded logjams; Americans returning from overseas had long wait times for re-entry screenings. Social media was filled with images of chaotic scenes.
At Newark Liberty International Airport yesterday, Terminal C’s upper level, which caters mainly to United premier-class customers, was virtually empty whereas the economy level below was way more crowded. The parking lots too seemed much less crowded than usual.
Passengers were going about their business as normal, aside from the many travelers who were wearing protective masks and gloves.
Thomas E. Franklin is Assistant Professor in Multiplatform Journalism at Montclair State University. With 30 years' experience in the newspaper business, he is perhaps best known for his iconic flag-raising photograph taken at Ground Zero on 9/11.