NJ high school swimmers petition governor to reopen pools: We need an answer ‘as soon as possible’


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Two New Jersey high school swimmers reacted on “Fox & Friends” to the fact that the petition they created asking Gov. Phil Murphy to reopen pools for competitive swimmers garnered thousands of signatures, saying they are “amazed” and “so thankful.”

The petition was created by Jerry Zheng and Andy Moss, high school sophomores on the Somerset Hills YMCA Swim Team. As of Wednesday morning, the petition has garnered more than 13,000 signatures, more than three times the amount of signatures from the week before.

The swimmers spoke on “Fox & Friends” as much of New Jersey remains closed amid the coronavirus pandemic, with no official end date for the stay-at-home order.

Last week, Gov. Murphy unveiled what he called a three-stage blueprint to reopen the economy from the COVID-19 shutdown, but gave no timeline on when stages would advance. He did, however, say moving from more restrictive practices in Stage 1 to Stage 2 would be a “matter of weeks.”


Murphy has already eased some restrictions in New Jersey, including opening parks and golf courses along with the state’s beaches, but did not mention when pools can reopen.

On Tuesday, Gov. Murphy announced that professional sports franchises could return to training and gameplay if the leagues allow them to do so. Host Ainsley Earhardt noted on Wednesday that Murphy also said he’s in talks with youth sports, but no decision has been announced yet.

“For us, as swimmers, we need to be back in the water as soon as possible because we’re missing critical training opportunities,” Zheng said.

He added that competitive swimmers can train in a pool in a safe and responsible way.

“We need a response from the government as soon as possible because swimmers across the state, they’re devastated,” Zheng said. “They don’t know when they’re going to be back in the pool, and if the government responds it will give us something to look forward to in the near future.”

Moss added that “We totally understand why these restrictions were put in place for everyone’s health and safety … but Jerry and I and swimmers everywhere we really believe that the signs, the research backs it up, the time is now to get back into the water.”

“There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas,” the CDC states on its website, noting that “Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.”

Though the water itself may not be a method of transmission, those who swim in the pool — especially if it’s a public one — could be. That’s why community pools in some states will not open this summer.

Zheng said that since the CDC says coronavirus doesn’t transmit in pools he thinks “we should be back in the water as soon as possible.”

He added that he recently attended a webinar with professional swimmers and swim coaches across the country and they provided guidance as to how to return to pools while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“They outlined the safe practice, such as swimmers going in through one door, going through their assigned lanes, doing the workout, getting clothes on and exiting through another door without getting into contact with anyone,” Zheng said.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.


New Jersey is one of the hardest-hit states with 155,764 coronavirus cases and more than 11,000 deaths as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by Fox News.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber, Ryan Gados and The Associated Press contributed to this report.