TOMS RIVER, NJ – Toms River and Brick continue to be the epicenter of the post-Thanksgiving outbreak of COVID-19 in Ocean County as 390 new positive cases were reported on Friday. Brick Township reported 80 new cases. 66 new cases were in Toms River, 41 in Lakewood and 19 were reported in Jackson Township.
4 new deaths were reported in Toms River, including that of a long time Toms River community champion, Michael Reilly. Reilly, a U.S. Marine and 1991 graduate of Toms River High School South operated ServPro of Toms River. After Superstorm Sandy, Reilly and ServPro were on the front lines of the recovery. Reilly was known as a person who would drop what he was doing and help anyone in the community. He will be missed by many at the Jersey Shore.
The spread of COVID-19 has shifted again in Ocean County in the week since Thanksgiving. In September, Lakewood Township saw a large surge in cases in the immediate aftermath of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Lakewood saw 454 new cases in the 7 day period after the Jewish holidays. Now, in the aftermath of Thanksgiving weekend, both Toms River and Brick Township outpace Lakewood. According to Ocean County Health Department records, Toms River is now the new epicenter of the virus countywide.
In the aftermath of the Lakewood outbreak, Governor Phil Murphy deployed contact tracers, more testing capabilities, and a COVID-19 liaison team to help get that community’s outbreak under control. So far, Murphy has not mentioned any additional measures for the rest of Ocean County, now experiencing a similar post-holiday surge. On Sunday, the Ocean County Health Department accounted for another 357 cases in the county. On Saturday, 340 new cases were reported for a weekend total of 697 new cases.
Of those cases reported since Friday, 199 were in Toms River, 142 were in Brick Township and 120 were reported in Lakewood, making Toms River the new COVID-19 epicenter of the county in the post-Thanksgiving holiday county. Last week, Toms River Mayor Mo Hill continued promoting employee appreciation certificates at town hall on the township’s Facebook page and has yet to issue a statement on the growing outbreak of COVID-19 in the community. On Sunday, Toms River reported 92 cases, the highest single-day total in the township since the pandemic began in March.
Last week, the Toms River Regional School District moved to an all-remote school model but is planning on returning to a hybrid model on December 7th, according to Superintendent Dan Healy. Originally, the hybrid model was to start on November 14th, but Healy and the school board, on November 30th announced the new date.
“The COVID-19 Activity Level Report currently lists our area as High Risk. This designation requests consideration of an all-remote learning environment, and it was our determination last week that going all-remote would help ensure the safety of our community in the context of an upward trend in positive cases,” Healy said. “We believe our cautious approach was the right one, placing us in a stronger position to re-implement hybrid, in-person learning. If, however, our “Central East” area moves to the Very High-Risk designation, we may likely be required to transition back to remote learning districtwide.”
Ocean County COVID-19 positives November 27th through December 4th, 2020: