Monday, March 16, 2020
County Executive Dennis Levinson outlined some additional county cancellations and closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in 98 state residents testing positive for the illness and two deaths, as of March 15, none of which involved Atlantic County residents.
“Atlantic County is taking all necessary steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our residents with guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and the state Department of Health,” he said. “This pandemic continues to evolve and we must all take personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our communities.”
According to Levinson that includes staying home and self-isolating if you are sick and social distancing for the well.
“If you are sick, stay home and treat your symptoms with over-the-counter medications, rest and fluids. If, however, you have a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath and have been recently exposed to someone with COVID-19 or have traveled to any of the global hotspots, seek medical attention by calling your healthcare provider. If that provider determines you meet the criteria for testing they will contact the appropriate authorities.”
Anyone who has questions about the coronavirus may call the state hotline at 1-800-222-1222 for those calling from in-state phones and 1-800-962-1253 for those calling from out-of-state phones. The hotline is available around the clock and with multi-language capabilities. The health professionals answering the calls cannot provide diagnosis, only information and guidance.
With regard to social distancing, Levinson announced the county is no longer permitting visitors to the Meadowview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Northfield or the Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing. The county has also suspended all programs and meetings at its nine library branches. The Board of Freeholders will begin live streaming its meetings as of March 17, although it cannot prohibit public attendance due to the open public meeting regulations.
On Sunday, many of the Atlantic County school districts announced their plans to close beginning this week before it was reported that Governor Murphy would soon announce the closing of all schools throughout the state.
“We are acting in an abundance of caution to help protect the well-being of our residents. We are implementing contingency plans for the operation of county government to ensure that all essential programs and services are provided,” said Levinson. “We must also consider the health and safety of our own employees. Tough times call for tough decisions, but Atlantic County is prepared to act and respond.”
Levinson also acknowledged the concerns of local businesses about the impacts of closures and social distancing.
“This is an unprecedented situation that none of us expected. While our first priority is protecting and saving lives, we are also focused on helping our businesses weather the storm,” he said. “The Atlantic County Economic Alliance is available to provide information and assistance.”
ACEA Executive Director Lauren H. Moore, Jr. said his agency is working closely with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Business Action Center to stay updated on the availability of assistance programs.
“We expect the programs to range from sales and income tax holidays to zero and low interest loans,” said Moore. “As soon as these programs come online, we will share the information on our website (aceanj.com) and through social media. We will also help local businesses connect with these resources.”
An online portal has been established by the state to help address questions and concerns of small business owners at: cv.business.nj.gov.
The county executive also advised residents not to hoard supplies.
“The health professionals have told us to be prepared to hunker down so it is understandable that people want to have the necessary supplies, but this is a time when we also need to act in the best interest of our communities. We need to work together, check on each other and stay connected to have the best possible outcome,” he added.
Levinson urged the public to remain calm, but vigilant and to monitor reputable media outlets and government websites for accurate information and updates including cdc.gov, nj.gov/health and aclink.org.