Mayor of South Amboy updates residents on coronavirus pandemic; current cases up to eight

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SOUTH AMBOY – Mayor Fred Henry of South Amboy updated his residents about the coronavirus pandemic on March 27:

“First and foremost, I would like to thank all of our city employees who continue to work tirelessly to keep all city services working and to keep the residents of our community safe. The Office of Emergency Management, police, fire, first aid, DPW, Senior Center staff and many others have continued to work under some difficult circumstances to maintain the best degree of normalcy possible under the circumstances.

“Let me speak for a moment about information sharing. We have been and will continue to provide the most current and up-to-date information available to all of you. For instance, when we receive our daily update from the Middlesex County Department of Health, we take immediate steps to get the information to you, including the number of confirmed cases. Many of you have requested additional information. What we get is what we provide. The only agency that receives more specific information about confirmed cases is the police department which can only share that with first responders on an as-needed basis. We do not receive, nor can we share any additional information other than what is authorized by health officials. That is the law. The duty to track and inform persons who may have been exposed is their responsibility and I know from speaking directly to them that this is a responsibility that they take very seriously. They are in operation 24/7 while managing this crisis.

“Currently there are eight confirmed cases in South Amboy and they are quarantined. We will update that number when it changes.

“Certain services have been temporarily postponed. Until further notice, bulk curbside pickup and Saturday dropoff at the DPW facility are suspended. Normal trash collection and recycling pickup will continue on schedule.

“Schools remain closed and the situation will be reassessed by the governor on April 17.  Our schools while closed have been active managing the education process via the internet. I have been in close contact with Superintendent [Jorge] Diaz and he reports his staff is working hard on making sure that curriculum is being delivered

“Second, please be assured that we are relying on the county Health Department for continued guidance on how best to protect our workers. All of our workers have been provided with the necessary personal protective equipment as recommended by the health officials. If need for additional protective equipment develops, we have ample stocks to supply them. I urge you in the strongest terms that if you have any questions regarding operations of the city or regarding our response to the crisis that you contact City Hall. We will ensure that you are provided with direct answers to your questions. Also, if you have not done so already, I ask that you go to our city website and sign up for free Nixle updates. You will receive immediate notifications to your mobile device and/or email when you sign up.

“Now, a bit about COVID 19 testing. Per the New Jersey Department of Health at this time, testing is prioritized for individuals who are sick with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath where they need hospitalization; those who are close contacts of confirmed COVID 19 cases; and individuals who traveled to or from highly affected areas,  If you do not have symptoms, testing is not recommended. There are drive-through community-based testing sites for symptomatic individuals only.

As always, 911 is available for your use if you are experiencing an emergency. At this point, I will be sharing several website addresses with you that can provide additional information. Those addresses will appear on the screen and will also be included in a document that will be posted to the city website for your continued reference.

“If you would like additional information about COVID-19, there are many available sources at your fingertips. For general information you can visit www.nj.gov/health for up-to-the-minute updates.

“NJ 211 has been activated to assist with handling COVID-19 calls from New Jersey residents. Residents can also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information and to stay informed. To receive live text assistance residents can text their zip code to 898-211.  Residents are encouraged to dial 211 24 hours per day 7 days per week if they need help in understanding and finding available assistance services. Language translation and TTY services are offered to any caller. Residents can also visit www.nj211.org/ for more information.

“If you are a small business owner and need assistance during this crisis, please call the Business Helpline at 1-800-JERSEY-7 or contact cv.business.nj.gov.

“If you need unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 outbreak, go to www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml.

“If you need to know what benefits you are entitled to if you were laid off or if you are unable to work due to school/daycare closures, visit www.nj.gov/labor/assets/PDFs/Covid-19%20SENARIOS.pdf.

“If you are a diabetic and would like to receive an emergency diabetic kit, the Diabetes Foundation is providing kits while supplies last. To get a free kit, go to diabetesfoundationinc.org or call 973-849-5234.

“To report a business in violation of non-essential business closure, go to covid19.nj.gov/violation.

“Please visit the FEMA Rumor Control website to distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to COVID-19. Rumors can easily circulate within communities during a crisis. Stay informed with updated myths and facts related to the federal response at www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control.

“Information about renewal of your driver’s license or registration can be found at www.state.nj.us/mvc/press/archives/2020/031320.htm.

“If you require mental health services during this crisis, the New Jersey Department of Human Services operates a toll-free resource for New Jersey residents. The line is available 24 hours per day and has language access. Call 877-294-HELP if you need this service.

“Lastly, like all of you, I am frustrated with the new reality and am concerned about our city, our state and our nation. However, I can share with you that if our city’s cooperation and response is any indication we will come through this crisis and be able to look back with pride on the way our residents engaged in a spirit of community, cooperation and kindness to overcome this great obstacle.

“We will continue to keep you updated with accurate and useful information. Until then, stay safe, stay healthy, stay informed and stay at home. Thank you.”