Dear Residents & Business Owners:
Like you, we have been closely monitoring the national news on the COVID-19 Virus (Coronavirus) that is coming from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We are in contact with the NJ State Department of Health, along with our County Board of Health and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for direction as well. As you probably understand, this is a very fluid situation, with updates coming almost on an hourly basis.
This evening, I am providing you with a current status, with the understanding that I will provide ongoing updates from this point as things evolve. Primarily, we want you to know that we value the health and well-being of our residents, their families and our employees and prioritize that in any decisions made, as we confront this situation.
As of this moment, there are 50 confirmed cases of the virus in the state of NJ in 13 of the 21 counties, including 1 in Camden County, which would be the closest case to us geographically. There are no confirmed cases in Gloucester County yet. The Governor recently declared a State of Emergency in order to allow for federal funding, if needed and they are working at the state level to coordinate the closing of the schools statewide; currently about half (354) of the school districts have closed on their own.
At the township level, we have canceled all scheduled bus trips and we are reviewing our slate of events to determine their fate going forward. We also made the decision on Friday to close our Township Buildings to the public until further notice. This pertains to the Municipal Building and Public Works Building, which are normally accessible to the public. Scheduled Court Dates will be postponed, until further notice. However, our Police Department Building will remain open to the public. The details and approval from the required agencies for these building closings will be complete this coming Monday at some point, for a projected closing effective on Tuesday, March 17th, going forward. My next update will be to confirm that these closings HAVE been implemented.
At that point, our employees will still be on-site and “working” as normal, except for the limitation of the public’s access. Internally, the township will function as normal and continue to conduct our day-to-day business. This business will include the ability to accept tax and other payments by use of the drop box that has always been in place at the front of the Municipal Building and will now temporarily serve as the primary option for this purpose. This box will be monitored throughout the day and emptied daily. All departments will continue to be operational during regular business hours (8am-4pm), with the normal phone accessibility, if needed.
As of now, we will continue to hold our Township Committee meetings on the 1st and 3rd Mondays at 7 pm, with our next meeting set for this Monday, March 16th. Only township officials and professionals are required to attend, and these meetings will remain open to the public, though your attendance is optional. I suggest sending me an email or calling me directly on my cell phone if you have a question going into a particular meeting, in lieu of attending yourself, but that is your decision since a Public Comment segment at township meetings is required by law. My email address is email@example.com and my cell phone is 609-254-1199.
This is an extraordinary circumstance and we ask for your patience as we work through maintaining our public services, while prioritizing the health of our employees and residents.
As we work with county, state and national health agencies on prevention and preparation, you can help by following the healthy protocols to limit any potential spread of the virus. The best ways to reduce the risk of getting this or any viral respiratory infection include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
- Stay at home away from others if you are sick
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
- Do not bring your student to school or come to work at school if you have cold or flu-like symptoms (elevated temperature, fever, cough, shortness of breath).
- Avoid as best as possible, being in the public with large crowds
For a more detailed understanding of the process under way at the state level, you can view Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 103 here:
Should you have a specific health question, the State of New Jersey has established a hotline where you can speak with healthcare professionals 24/7. You may reach them by calling this number:
New Jersey Poison Center Hotline at 1-800-222-1222
We will keep you informed of this fluid situation through our social media resources, including our Website, Facebook Page and emails blasts….so look for my updates. Thank you for your patience and understanding and support….and know that we are working tirelessly to ensure your health and safety in the face of this unprecedented situation. Feel free to contact me directly with any questions.
Together for Harrison Township,