Dear Residents & Business Owners:
As I’ve stated previously in these updates, we are dialing in to a call every day at 10AM hosted by the Gloucester County Office of Emergency Management (OEM). It includes representation from the County Board of Freeholders, the County Administrative leadership, all 24 municipalities (their OEM Coordinator/Governing Body member), Inspira Medical, Jefferson/Kennedy Hospitals and Rowan University. These calls are very informative and serve as the basis for much of what I am able to share with you. I am especially impressed with, and proud of the manner in which this Emergency Management team in our county is functioning. These professionals know what they’re doing and exude a calm mode of preparedness, even in the face of this unprecedented crisis.
The numbers shared on these calls are always based on the status as of 2 PM, the previously day; therefore, based on the 24-hour news cycle world we live in, we all may be cognizant of more recent information. That said, today’s numbers shared on the call (as of 3/19 at 2 PM) were:
- Statewide, there are 742 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5 deaths.
- In Gloucester County, there are 4 confirmed cases, with 3 of those on home-quarantine and 1 in-hospital quarantine. All 4 are improving.
- There are 9 cases in our county that are “under investigation”; meaning these individuals have been tested but have not yet received results.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE TESTING PROCESS
As test kits become more readily available, we know the “process” to get tested will also evolve. As of right now, if you present yourself to your Primary Care Physician with symptoms or concerns, you will be walked through a series of questions to determine if you qualify to be tested. Then, the medical professional makes arrangements for the test by writing a prescription. We know that Inspira and Jefferson/Kennedy are setting up drive-thru testing centers, but you cannot just drive up for a test at this time. You MUST have a prescription for a test to be administered. I will include any changes in the process as they occur.
It’s also important to understand that those who test positive will remain anonymous to the general public. The Department of Health will not divulge their names publicly. In the interest of safety, however, a record of the positive test home address is noted in the County Response System. Therefore, should a call for Police, Fire or EMS come in from a “home-quarantined” address, the 1st Responders are prepared to respond to that call with the appropriate precautions taken.
Other local announcements:
Metal and electronics can still be dropped off at the Recycle Center on Colson Road at this time. The center is open on Saturdays from 9 AM – 3 PM. We will resume our Monday and Wednesday evening hours on April 1st. The Recycle Center is still accepting Vegetation in all forms, used oil and antifreeze.
No regular trash or household recyclables are accepted at the Center. Please note the Recycle Center attendant is unable to assist with offloading items during this crisis.
I am repeating two announcements from yesterday’s update:
Disabled residents with unmet needs:
- Dial 2-1-1 for direct connection to the State Health & Human Service Resource Center
- For local assistance and direction contact Harrison Twp Emergency Management at harrisontwpOEM@harrisontwp.us
Note: If you know someone that is in need of assistance please share this with them.
Mullica Hill ShopRite – Special Hours of Operation
- Pursuant to the Governor’s Declaration, the store will be open daily from 7:30AM – 8PM
- For High Risk Customers or Aged 60+ there will exclusive shopping from 7AM – 7:30AM
Mullica Hill Amish Market Crowd Control
- Starting Friday, March 20th, Market management will seek to limit the total number of customers in the Market at one time to 50
I am asking that we all try to remain patient throughout this COVID-19 crisis, especially with those entities and workers who are providing us with our basic needs and services. I point to our Mullica Hill ShopRite first, who today implemented new store hours pursuant to Governor Murphy’s Declaration, which is dictated to them.
The purpose of repeating this information is because we have received a few inquiries, which I won’t call complaints because certain frustrations during this crisis are understandable. But let me be clear, the referenced protocols at ShopRite and The Amish Market are first aligned with the Governor’s Executive Order, which supersedes everything. And second, they are done voluntarily by these merchants in response to our input. We appreciate their support of our community and willingness to work with us on everyone’s behalf. It is impossible to please 100% of the people with any of these decisions.
Lastly, many of our local restaurants are still open for business for take-out or delivery only. I won’t list them for fear of leaving someone out, but you know who they are. During this crazy time, kill two birds with one stone and get a prepared meal for the family AND patronize your favorite Mullica Hill eatery the only way we can right now.
They also established a policy that the first 30 minutes of daily operation will be dedicated exclusively to High Risk/Elderly customers. This is a voluntary action on their part seeking to address the needs of our community. Yes, slightly inconveniencing all others for 30 minutes a day, and yes, perhaps not as lengthy an exclusivity as desired by some. But we appreciate ShopRite’s effort and would ask that the masses do the same. It should be noted that ShopRite, as a Grocery/Food store, is exempted from the 50-person gathering limit dictated in the Governor’s Executive Order #104.
Second, The Amish Market has voluntarily offered to monitor and limit the number of customers in their building to 50 persons because of their tighter quarters and at our request. We are thankful for their immediate action to address our concerns and I ask your patience with their process starting tomorrow.
Lastly, in accordance with the vested powers in Chapter 251 of the laws of 1942, today we officially declared a State of Emergency in Harrison Township. Emergency Management Coordinator, Police Captain Brian Bartholomew and I signed the official declaration earlier today, as required by law. We did so in conjunction with the State and then the County making those same declarations in the last week. This positions us to receive Federal assistance or funding should the need arise, and it becomes available.
I close by reminding you all that things will get worse before they improve. We will continue to see more positive tests as a result of better testing in place. Be prepared for the inundation from news outlets about these numbers increasing. Potentially more restrictions could be put in place and less access to certain normal comforts. This is cataclysmic for families who suffer the worst of it and lose a loved one — please keep them in your prayers. I pray that the “worst of it” doesn’t touch anyone I love or anyone in our community. I am embracing these inconveniences and the unknown impact on our economy, businesses and jobs, because we will recover. No matter how bad it is, we will recover as a country economically and as individuals and families fiscally. One day at a time.
Together for Harrison Township,