Wendi Friedman’s New York City apartment was getting cramped. The single mom of a 5-year-old boy with special ne said when coronavirus fears in the Big Apple started to be widespread, she decided to come down to her second home at the Jersey Shore.
“I most likely will need them again at some point,” Friedman added. “I understand the concern of the virus potentially traveling. I can not speak for others, but my son has asthma, so we have been extremely isolated. I pay taxes here and have the right to utilize my home as I see fit for my family while trying to be mindful of permanent residents.”
Even though she’s a taxpayer in the Atlantic County town her Jersey Shore neighbors, and even some local officials, aren’t too thrilled with the idea of people coming down the shore to weather out the growing pandemic.
In the nearly two weeks since New Jersey reported its first case of coronavirus, both Atlantic and Cape May counties have appeared to be in the clear with no positive cases being reported — but that changed on Wednesday. The first diagnosed cases of the virus were reported in Atlantic County and Cape May County as the statewide total of positive cases of coronavirus jumped to more than 400.
That’s why some officials are advising visitors to stay away.
“Suddenly we are seeing these large numbers coming here that we plan for an our summer season,” Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton said. “At this point in time, our county health department is really concerned about what’s happening.”
“We love our second homeowners,” the freeholder said. “Forty-eight percent of our county is made up of second homes, and they’re very important to us. We know their kids are out of school, but this is not the time to decide to have a vacation and go to the Shore. What they should do is stay home as much as possible, work for home, and protect their families and their kids.”
Lauren Cooke, a year-round Margate resident, is just as concerned. She said this past weekend she saw someone in a local supermarket who appeared to be sick who was sneezing and coughing, buying $470 worth of food. Cooke said she overheard the woman, who lived in Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, said she was heading to her shore home in Ocean City and was going to meet her kids who were flying up from Virginia. With a mother who has a compromised immune system, Cooke wants people to use caution when they are out and about.
“When they come down, there are more people when I go out and do errands,” Cooke said. “I have more of a chance of picking it up because they are not staying home.”
Ventnor resident Brie Lynn said people should be able to have access to their homes as long as they are taking the right precautions.
“The government is talking about this pandemic potentially continuing through July or even August. Some doctors are saying it will last until fall,” Lynn said. “People cannot be expected to not live their lives or not visit the homes they own. I don’t think it’s an awful thing for people to come to their shore homes as long as they’re being safe and practicing social distancing.”
George Lashley, who lives in South Dennis, normally shops at two supermarkets close to him. Lashley said when he went to the market in Mamora with his wife and three small children, he saw the parking lot was primarily full of Pennsylvania and New York license plates. Lashley said he agrees with Thornton’s statement, and wished he said it earlier.
“I was disgusted,” Lashley said. “The toilet paper, paper towels, meat and water were gone, and people were clearing out the Tylenol and ibuprofen. There was very little spaghetti sauce very little pasta and the produce choices were slim. One gentleman was just grabbing stuff by the handful.”
Lashley said the people from outside the area should realize that the stores are not stocked to handle the influx of people during the winter. He also believes more measures should be taken to stop the spread of the virus.
“I hope the new mayor of Wildwood follows through and shuts down the boardwalk,” Lashley stated. “Now with the confirmed case in Cape May County, do you think these people will learn? The person who contracted the virus is from New York. Why did they come down here? Now I fear for my family.”
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