Gov. Murphy Plans for High School Sports Return in 2021, Remains Concerned About Hospital Capacity

By: Alysa Rubin, Writer / Follow South Jersey Public Health Intern

TRENTON, N.J. — On Saturday, November 29, Governor Phil Murphy announced that changes will be made to regulations concerning indoor sports and outdoor gatherings following a notable spike in cases of COVID-19.

Beginning on December 5, all organized youth and adult indoor sports, including practices and competitions will be paused until January 2 of next year. Only collegiate and professional teams will be allowed to compete.

The Governor’s goal in suspending these activities is for them to return when the calendar flips to 2021.

“I hope and intend to see the winter sports season in January. I want to see, especially that high school senior, get to play her or his last season,” Gov. Murphy said at his COVID-19 briefing on Monday. “And I value the importance of sports for the physical and mental wellbeing of our children. But we are seeing outbreaks related to indoor sports, and this is a prudent short-term step to slow the spread.”

Additionally, outdoor gathering limits will be reduced from 150 to 25 people beginning on December 7. The regulations exclude religious or political activities, funerals, memorial services, and wedding ceremonies. Outdoor dining also remains unaffected by this announcement.

The new restrictions come after a sharp spike in cases of COVID-19 following the Thanksgiving holiday. Governor Murphy reported that as of Nov. 29, the statewide positivity rate from tests administered on Thanksgiving was 11.34%. According to the New Jersey COVID-19 dashboard, there have been a total 341,910 cases, with 15,254 confirmed deaths.

Murphy emphasized that the primary reason for unease revolves around flattening the curve and not overwhelming hospitals and the healthcare system. According to Murphy, as of Nov. 29, 2,961 people were hospitalized for coronavirus. 575 patients were in intensive care, and 332 patients require a ventilator.

“Our concern remains overwhelmingly the situation in our hospitals, even more than the increase in the raw numbers of cases,” Murphy said Monday. “And it comes down to this maintaining the stability of our healthcare system and ensuring the ability of our frontline medical workers to treat patients starts with implementing restrictions that will keep fewer people from becoming a hospital patient in the first place.”

This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.