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Information, Health and Food Help During COVID-19 Outbreak in New Jersey

Woman receiving grocery delivery.

New Jersey has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the country (behind only New York), and life in the state has changed drastically in a matter of weeks.

On March 21, Gov. Phil Murphy ordered residents to stay at home until further notice. Exceptions to the order include obtaining essential goods and services, seeking medical attention and engaging in outdoor activities. Only “essential businesses,” such as grocery stores, pharmacies and banks, are permitted to remain open to the public.

“We know the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, and the best way to prevent further exposure is to limit our public interactions to only the most essential purposes,” Gov. Murphy said. “This is a time for us all to come together in one mission to ‘flatten the curve’ and slow – and eventually halt – the spread of coronavirus.”

The state, AARP, and a host of other entities have developed resources to help residents adjust to the new normal of life during the COVID-19 pandemic.

View AARP's Coronavirus Guide for Older Americans here: Coronavirus Guide.pdf

General information and resources

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the go-to resource for protecting yourself and handling illness.

AARP’s coronavirus website offers the latest news and resources, including our weekly live Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Hall on Thursdays at 1 p.m. (ET). Join by calling toll-free 855-274-9507.

New Jersey residents can find a variety of coronavirus resources on the state’s COVID-19 Information Hub, such as a symptom checker and testing information, mortgage relief and housing assistance, state benefits and unemployment help and guidance on avoiding scams. The state has created a Jobs Portal where residents can search for available employment. And New Jersey is supporting older residents in several ways.

For general COVID-19 questions, call 211 between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. For medical questions, 24-hour assistance is available at 800-962-1253. Text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive alerts.

Other New Jersey hotlines:

Mental Health Cares: 866-202-4357 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily)

Suicide Prevention Hopeline: 855-654-6735 (24 hours, daily)

Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-572-7233 (24 hours, daily)

Vet2Vet: 866-838-7654 (24 hours, daily)

Crisis Text Line: Text NJ to 741741

Care2Caregivers: 800-424-2494

Gov. Murphy holds regular COVID-19 briefings, which are livestreamed on his YouTube channel. He participated in an AARP New Jersey Telephone Town Hall, along with other state leaders, on March 27. The audio is available here.

The New York Times is offering free access to its coronavirus coverage.

Food access and groceries

New Jersey continues to offer food assistance (SNAP) to help low-income residents buy groceries. The online application is available here. The SNAP hotline is 800-687-9512.

The state’s food bank clearinghouse, End Hunger NJ, lets users search for food pantries and soup kitchens by county, zip code and city. Feeding America also has a local food bank finder. Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the Food Bank of South Jersey offer food assistance resources.

The state has provided guidelines on how to stay safe when shopping and handling deliveries. Some grocery stores have designated special shopping hours for older adults and other populations at higher risk for COVID-19. These include:

Acme reserves every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. for senior citizens and other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.

ALDI stores open at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, reserving the first hour of business for vulnerable shoppers, including senior citizens.

BJ’s Wholesale Club opens daily from 8 to 9 a.m. for members who are 60 and older.

Costco opens from 8 to 9 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday for members who are 60 and older and for those with physical impairments.

Sam’s Club offers early shopping hours every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 to 9 a.m. for seniors and those with disabilities or compromised immune systems.

Stop & Shop stores open daily from 6 to 7:30 a.m. for customers 60 and older, as well as those with weakened immune systems.

Target reserves the first hour of shopping each Wednesday for vulnerable shoppers, including older adults and people with underlying health concerns. Hours vary by location.

Trader Joe’s dedicates the first hour of operation every day (either 8 to 9 a.m. or 9 to 10 a.m.) to shoppers 60 and older and customers with disabilities who need assistance while shopping.

Walmart offers shopping from 6 to 7 a.m. every Tuesday for customers 60 and older through April 28.

Whole Foods Market stores service customers 60 and older one hour before opening the store to the general public. Hours vary by location.

Other grocery stores, including ShopRite, suggest checking individual locations for special hours for high-risk shoppers.

Coping with isolation

Here’s how a Rutgers mental health expert says we can stay engaged and healthy while social distancing.

Many of the state’s arts and cultural institutions are offering virtual tours and performances. You can explore more than 400 works on the Grounds for Sculpture website, attend online events hosted by the Princeton University Art Museum and watch previously broadcast New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concerts, all from home.

Keep your mind moving with educational videos from the Battleship New Jersey and Liberty Science Center.

Outdoor activities, such as walks, bike rides and hikes, are permitted, as long as participants practice physical distancing by staying six feet away from others. New Jersey's state and county parks and forests are closed indefinitely.

More on Coronavirus

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