Will N.J. reopen playgrounds after CDC changed warning on getting coronavirus by touching surfaces?

 nj.com  05/23/2020 12:46:44   Brent Johnson | bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com

The federal Centers for Disease Control recently said the coronavirus spreads more easily via person-to-person contact than from someone touching a surface or object.

So does that mean New Jersey might allow places like childrens playgrounds to reopen?

Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been slowly easing the states COVID-19 restrictions in recent days, said he wasnt sure Friday.

I would think ... if its an outdoor surface, thats something were likely gonna get to sooner than later than we would to an indoor surface, Murphy said during his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

But Dr. Christina Tan, the states epidemiologist, stressed that people should still clean surfaces to be safe.

Right now, the evidence suggests contaminated surfaces arent really the main mode of transmission, Tan said. However, it doesnt mean you still shouldnt be cleaning the surfaces, shouldnt be disinfecting the surfaces well. So all those other infection-control measures still need to be implemented.

Though state and county parks reopened more than two weeks ago in New Jersey, playgrounds and exercise equipment remain closed.

The CDCs website had warned about contaminated surfaces and objects in a separate section. But earlier this month, it was changed to a section about how the virus does not spread easily in other ways.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, the CDC website says now. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.

The CDC clarified that it changed the site to improve its organization. A spokesman told NPR on Friday that our transmission language has not changed."

The agency did said the main source of the virus spread is through respiratory droplets when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks closely around someone else.

COVID-19 spreads mainly through close contact from person-to-person, Haynes told the public radio station. While it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Homepage

New Jersey, a densely populated state of 9 million residents, has reported at least 10,985 deaths attributed to COVID-19, with at least 152,719 cases, since the outbreak began March 4. Only New York has more deaths and cases among American states.

Officials reported 146 new deaths and 1,394 new positive tests in New Jersey on Friday.

But officials say the states daily number of deaths, cases, and hospitalizations continue to drop. And in recent weeks, Murphy has permitted nonessential retail businesses to offer curbside service and said beaches can be open for the summer.

On Friday, Murphy announced the state is allowing more people to gather outdoors, up to a maximum of 25, in time for Memorial Day weekend. Indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 people.

The governor said Thursday morning more businesses  such as salons and gyms  may be allowed to reopen with guidelines in a matter of weeks.

Still, he said its easier right now to reopen activities more because the virus is more likely to spread indoors.

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Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com.

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