Dear Residents & Business Owners:
As I write these daily updates, my goal is to provide guidance, access to resources and as much information as possible, without being overwhelming. Striking that balance is difficult. With that in mind today I want us all to “reset” a bit and take an accounting of where we are in this situation.
CLARIFICATION: CONFIRMED CASES & CONFIDENTIALITY
I’ll start with clarifications since I’ve had a few questions that everyone can benefit from hearing the answers to. A few days ago, I wrote a detailed accounting of the process to get tested and what happens when someone tests positive for the COVID-19 virus. You’ll recall that there is a very strict protocol in that process, which includes an intense “interrogation” of the individual who tested positive. This process is overseen and controlled by the County Department of Health (DOH). The objective of this investigation process is to trace their interactions and “close contacts” (people within 6-feet for ten sustained minutes at any time) for three days PRIOR to their first sign of symptoms. The DOH then proceeds to individually notify each “close contact” person and advise specific action (ie self-quarantine, etc).
It’s also important to understand that the private information, even the identity of a confirmed case, is not shared with anyone. This includes government agencies. The DOH strictly abides by the HIPAA laws in keeping that information confidential once it is obtained. So, though we (as a municipal government) are advised by DOH on the number of cases in our town, the individual’s identity is not disclosed.
To ensure First Responder safety, should they be summoned to a home with a quarantined confirmed COVID-19 case, we rely on the ProPhoenix System. This system contains dispatch functions to get responders to an emergency with all critical information at their fingertips. The system recognizes the address of a COVID-19 case and the First Responder is immediately notified to take special, sterile steps upon entering that identified house. Again, all this takes place without disclosure of the individuals name being broadcasted anywhere.
UPDATED NUMBERS AND RESOURCES
I’ve attempted to keep you updated on the spread rate of the virus in NJ and Gloucester County. Early in my updates, I shared the link known as Gloucester County COVID-19 Dashboard so you could monitor county activity yourself.
The county numbers are updated daily, as are the statewide numbers. You are able to see the state wide numbers on the NJ DOH COVID-19 Dashboard.
The map on the State site provides a good visual of where the virus is concentrated and how it’s spreading. You can actually see the spread south from NYC to North Jersey and down towards us. As the County site has indicated, we currently have 3 confirmed cases in Harrison, with 72 county-wide as of yesterday. Though identities are not disclosed, we know the three Harrison cases’ are improving or beyond exhibiting symptoms any longer.
I have focused on referring to the state numbers since that is the best indicator of how the spread is increasing. That hopefully addresses why my focus isn’t the number of Harrison cases or County cases.
APPLE RELEASES NEW APP FOR COVID-19
Lastly, I want to make you aware of a new app Apple released on Friday. It’s a screening tool and a resource to help people stay informed regarding the proper steps to protect their health during the spread of the virus. Apple developed the app in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. You can download it from the iTunes App Store (COVID-19 app) or go to the web-based version of the screening tool.
Have you had any virtual gatherings at your house this weekend? My wife and I were hanging with our neighbors on Friday night. All of us within four houses of each other, but we did so by using Zoom meeting instead (Go To Meeting works too). It was a blast as we shared laughs over some adult beverages – virtually! Let’s all stay the course as we get through this together. Harrison Strong!
Together for Harrison Township,