Canes Covering Coronavirus, New Jersey

We’re stuck inside like the rest of America

Parker Gimbel
Ocean City, New Jersey
7 p.m. Sunday, April 5, 2020

We’re stuck inside like the rest of America

The elderly of South Jersey are eating well and working together during the COVID-19 quarantine.

In Ocean City, a small South Jersey beach town of about 15,000 just outside Atlantic City, the few yearlong residents are stuck inside like the rest of America.

The city is composed mainly of middle- to upper-class families and the elderly, especially in my neighborhood on the north side of town. In fact, all of my neighbors on East Atlantic Boulevard are elderly, from the single 80-year-old chain smoker who lives next door, to the restaurant owners — a couple in their 70s —  who live across the street and let us use their pool in the summer.

In a neighborhood where my 16-year-old sister is the youngest resident by nearly 30 years, my family may seem like the outlier. But even my house belongs to my grandmother. She and my grandpa bought this place 30 years ago and moved here full time in 2007.

It’s a tight-knit community of retirees who are sticking together and fending off the virus. Quarantine has given some residents, at least in my family, the chance to try new hobbies and do some good. My grandmother doesn’t cook often, but she’s been in the kitchen every day since social distancing measures were first put in place.

“They say chicken soup is for the soul, and we sure could use something good for the soul right now” said Doris Miles, my 79-year-old grandmother.

The streets here are quiet, but in this beachside neighborhood, the spirits are high as we prepare for the apex of the coronavirus spread.

“I’m just thankful that we have the resources to make it through something like this. I’m thankful that my friends are alive, that my family is alive,” my grandmother continued.

But some residents fear the virus may make its way through the area sooner or later and leave devastation in its wake.

My grandmother invited our neighbor in to take some chicken soup to go. She arrived with a scarf around her neck and disinfectant wipes in her hand. Blue latex gloves and a surgical mask left her further protected from the infectious COVID-19. “My boyfriend, he has 60 percent lung capacity,” said Mary Beth Lombardi, 62. “If I want to go anywhere I wear the mask, I wear gloves. I’m not taking any chances, even if it’s just to go next door for a minute.”

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April 9, 2020


Leah Harper

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