TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Fifty-three New Jersey hospitals, among the hardest hit by COVID-19 in the country, will receive $1.7 billion in funding from the federal government, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Saturday.
The governor said 395 hospitals in total with share $12 billion under the latest distribution of federal funds.
The $1.7 billion amount is the second-largest amount of funding awarded, behind only New York.
Murphy said the funds will be deposited with the hospitals in the middle of the upcoming week.
"Getting more critical financial aid to our hospitals and health systems to support our frontline health care workers has been a constant and central part of our ongoing dialogue with our federal partners. I thank President Trump and (US Department of Health and Human Services) Secretary Alex Azar," Murphy said.
The governor said ensuring the state's health care systems is critical to getting everyone on the road back.
"This $1.7 billion will certainly help ensure that our entire health care systems is, itself, healthy to join us on the road back," Murphy said.
Golf Courses Reopen
New Jersey state parks and golf courses are reopening Saturday, but Governor Phil Murphy warns if people don't heed to the restrictions and social distancing measures put in place, they will close once again.
"We understand that New Jerseyans want to get outside and get some fresh air as the weather warms up," said Governor Phil Murphy. "However, this should not serve as an open invitation to rush back to normalcy and break the necessary social distancing measures we've put in place. This approach will also bring New Jersey in line with our neighboring states, which will discourage residents from needlessly crossing state lines for recreation."
Riverton Country Club in Cinnaminson, Burlington County is one of several courses in the Garden State ready for golfers to return, as the state slowly scales back its COVID-19 lockdown.
"We have sanitized everything at the club and went through back again," said Joseph Mendez at Riverton Country Club. "From thoroughly cleaning the golf carts to preparing the course."
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The club says they are following the restrictions for golf courses to maintain social distancing laid out by the governor's order:
- Implementing electronic or telephone reservation and payment systems while still providing options for populations that do not have access to internet service or credit cards;
- Extending tee times to 16 minutes apart;
- Limiting the use of golf carts to one person unless being shared by immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
- Requiring frequent, and after each use, sanitization of high-touch areas such as restroom facilities, range buckets, golf carts, and push carts;
- Restricting the touching of golf holes and flags;
- Closing golf center buildings, pro shops, and other buildings and amenities;
- Removing bunker rakes and other furniture-like benches, water coolers, and ball washers from the course;
- Discontinuing club and equipment rentals;
- Prohibiting the use of caddies; and
- Limiting tee times to two players unless the foursome consists of immediate family, caretakers, household members or romantic partners.
The Riverton Country Club says giving the golfing pairs 16 minutes to finish a hole will put them about 600 to 700 yards from the next set of golfers.
At Burlington Country Club, head golf professional Michael Mack says there will be changes to the holes at their course, as well.
"We raised the cup liner, approximately two inches," said Mack. "This prevents people from touching the hole."
The governor's order also recommends, but does not mandate, that employees, players, and other individuals on the golf course wear cloth face coverings while on the golf course.
Miniature golf courses and driving ranges are still closed.
State parks also are reopening to the public, but with some restrictions.
Those visiting the parks are allowed to partake in passive recreation, including fishing, hunting, boating, canoeing, hiking, walking, running or jogging, biking, birding, and horseback riding.
However, picnic areas, playgrounds, exercise stations and equipment, chartered watercraft services and rentals, swimming, pavilions, restrooms, and other buildings and facilities, such as visitor centers, interpretive centers, and interior historical sites, remain closed at this time.
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To limit physical interaction, the state parks and forests have implemented the following restrictions:
- Limiting parking to 50% of maximum capacity and prohibiting parking in undesignated areas;
- Prohibiting picnics;
- Requiring social distancing to be practiced except with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners; and
- Banning organized or contact activities or sports; and gatherings of any kind.
While not mandatory, Murphy recommends that people wear a cloth face covering while in public settings at the parks and forests where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
"When the parks open (Saturday), please act responsibly and follow the rules and precautions. I want us all to be able to enjoy our parks together. What I don't want to have to do is close them again," Gov. Murphy said.
County parks can also reopen, but the locality gets to determine whether they are open or closed.
All recreational campgrounds and transient camp sites at campgrounds remain closed. Residential campgrounds, including mobile home parks, condo sites, and existing/renewing 2020 yearly seasonal contract sites may remain open.
The reopenings serve as a barometer on how soon other establishments can reopen in the state, while giving residents a reprieve from the seven-week quarantine.
On Saturday, Gov. Murphy announced 2,912 additional positive cases of coronavirus, bringing a statewide total to 123,717.
There were 205 new deaths bringing the total to 7,742.
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