Burlington County officials form task force in response to coronavirus outbreak


Burlington County officials have taken action in response to reported cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey.

Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson announced on March 12 that a Coronavirus Task Force was formed to coordinate measures appropriately and prepare for health hazards of COVID-19. County officials said the Task Force is charged with managing the county response as well as coordinating with state and local efforts.

To date, state officials have reported more than 100 cases of the virus in New Jersey. On March 15, Burlington County Health Department reported two cases of COVID-19, which included a male, 43, in Moorestown Township, and a female, 63, in Eastampton Township.

Officials said the Task Force is led by Health Department Director Herb Conaway. Conaway is a practicing physician of internal medicine with more than 20 years of clinical experience. He also serves as Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee in the New Jersey General Assembly.

The Coronavirus Task Force also consists of several members of the Health Department, Public Safety and Office of Emergency Management along with representatives from the Freeholder Offices and Virtua Health.

“Burlington County Health Department has been actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation since it emerged in early January,” the Burlington County Freeholders said in a statement. “The Task Force will continue to work with all of its local partners on existing plans and control measures to prepare for further spread in Burlington County.

“The Task Force will continually update hospitals, first responders, school administrators and other partners regarding their needs and protocols to ensure we are focused on limiting the spread of disease and are prepared for eventual cases,” the freeholders added.

Conaway also announced on March 12 that organizations in the county should cancel or postpone mass gatherings of more than 250 people and for organizations that serve high-risk populations, cancel gatherings of more than 10 people.

“This recommendation is based upon Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines,” Conaway said in a statement. “Organizations may choose to cancel smaller gatherings depending upon their communities and their populations.”

On March 16, Burlington County offices closed to the public, and all county employees were requested to report for normal duties as scheduled. The Burlington County Superior Court and Board of Social Services will remain open, according to officials.

The CDC has issued guidelines for Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission. The goal of the mitigation strategies is to slow the transmission in the community. The document can be found at the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf

“Using these strategies, we are making the following recommendations regarding mass gatherings and community activities,” Conaway said. “There are specific guidelines for the individuals and families at home, schools/childcare, assisted living, senior living facilities, adult day programs, workplace, healthcare settings, community and faith-based organizations.”