Dear Residents & Business Owners:
Later today, Senators Booker and Menendez have set up another conference call for Mayors to review the Federal Rescue Package and address questions. I will provide an overview of that call in my update tomorrow. Yesterday I received my copy of the Mullica Hill Sun, which includes my weekly Mayor’s Message that I submit the prior week. If you read it, you will note that I intentionally included the number of NJ confirmed cases (427) and deaths (5) statewide and Gloucester County cases (2), as of last Thursday, March 19th. I did so “wondering” what those numbers would be by the time we all read the article a week later.
NJ COVID-19 STATISTICAL UPDATE AND DASHBOARD
Well, now we know. as of this morning, the statewide numbers have increased to 6,876 confirmed cases and 81 deaths. There are now 42 confirmed cases in Gloucester County and sadly, as I write this, I have just been notified that the county has lost its first resident related to the COVID-19 virus. The deceased is an 82-year old female who was hospitalized with underlying medical issues. Our condolences to her family, friends and community (which hasn’t officially been announced yet; but it is not a Harrison resident). You can monitor the statewide statistics here.
I don’t think I need to state the obvious, but we will see an increase in these numbers in the coming days. Whether this is connected to the improved testing capability and/or addition to the actual spread of the virus is irrelevant.
The point is that during this crucial time of feeling helpless, we each have certain things within our control which will influence our personal health and the health of our family. I’ll go a step further and say that we also have a responsibility to others outside the four-walls of our present existence. The social distancing thing is now part of our vocabulary, so I won’t reiterate those protocols now. We are all adjusting and doing a decent job, but there is one glaring area that is being brought to our attention and there is room for improvement.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR KIDS
That area is “kid social distancing”. We receive multiple complaints daily of kids from different households playing together outside. That is NOT ok at this point. I understand that parents with school-age kids have to keep them occupied but letting them play in the yard with several kids from the neighborhood defeats the whole purpose of the Governor’s Order. It’s no different than a group of adults hanging out together and we are all intentionally refraining from that, aren’t we? So, I’m asking you for more self-awareness regarding these gatherings. If they are happening with your family, neighbors or kids please seek to change that behavior until we get through the crisis.
ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR VULNERABLE FAMILIES
From Trenton today, the NJ Human Services announced $70 million in Food Assistance for Vulnerable Families in NJ. The NJ Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) will receive an extra benefit payment and their benefits will be higher in April to help address critical food needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. NJ SNAP provides food assistance to approximately 670,000 residents in 340,000 households through a benefits card accepted in most grocery stores and farm markets. During this difficult time, we encourage residents who need food assistance to apply for SNAP online.
AN UPDATE AT THE TOWNSHIP LEVEL
Locally, we are ending our first week with our employees adhering to the Governor’s Stay at Home policy. We have done so by monitoring all incoming messages and emails and maintaining the continuity of township business. This has occurred without a single complaint, so we are pleased with the process we have put in place. We will continue this policy next week and we will review the situation every Friday going forward. We appreciate your patience and support.
As I wrote about yesterday, our Emergency Management Senior & Disabled Outreach Program will commence this weekend with outgoing phone calls, as we seek to provide assistance and resources to those members of our community. I will keep you updated on that program.
Let’s continue to focus on taking care of each other as we enter the weekend.
We are Harrison Strong!
Together for Harrison Township,