On behalf of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone and Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley held a press conference on April 27 to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation in the county.
Arnone talked about the $108 million Monmouth County received in federal stimulus money through the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, according to a press release.
“We are in the process of working with the eight other counties who were given federal stimulus money to come up with guidelines and protocols for the stimulus money. We will be developing timelines and guidance for the municipalities to submit for reimbursement,” Arnone said.
“County Administrator Teri O’Connor and I will be in contact with the administrators and mayors of each town to communicate these guidelines and protocols,” he said.
Arnone provided an update about the Take Out in Monmouth initiative, which encourages residents to order from local businesses that are open.
Originally including restaurants and then wineries, breweries and garden centers, the Take Out in Monmouth website, www.takeoutinmonmouth.com, now includes a list of vendors that registered for the now-postponed Made in Monmouth event, according to the press release.
“It’s encouraging to see the amount of website views greatly increase as this initiative progresses,” Arnone said. “Monmouth County residents are showing their support for these small businesses and their employees during this difficult time.”
More than 13,000 individuals have visited the Take Out in Monmouth website, with more than 26,000 total views since it went live in early April, according to the press release.
The freeholders also announced that all public access restrictions to county buildings and programs have been extended through May 15. This includes all Monmouth County Library branches and the Monmouth County Park System buildings.
“I want to reiterate that I do not support the indefinite closure of all county parks in New Jersey,” Arnone said. “The freeholders understand how important these parks and open spaces are for our residents’ mental health and wellness and we are going to be increasing our efforts to open the parks and golf courses.”
Kiley spoke about Monmouth ACTS, which is working to provide recommendations for improving identified issues and are pinpointing how COVID-19 is impacting county residents while implementing the necessary response.
“As human service needs expand due to the unpredictability of the virus, Monmouth ACTS has streamlined communications at monmouthacts.org/covid19,” said Kiley. “One example of an identified need is behavioral health and the county’s Division of Behavioral Health and the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Monmouth County have partnered and enlisted the services of more than 60 volunteer licensed counselors to provide behavioral health support to residents in need.”
The county COVID-19 hotline will serve as the point of contact and provide initial support. Callers in need of continued support would then be connected to the Mental Health Association of Monmouth County, according to the press release.
Residents will be provided up to six telephone support sessions. If additional behavioral health services are needed beyond the six calls, the person would then be connected to a behavioral health agency for continued care.
Currently, there are two bilingual therapists and recruitment for volunteers is ongoing.
“There is a plan for targeted outreach to long-term care facilities as there may be a potential need for behavioral health support due to increased isolation in these facilities,” Kiley said. “Residents who are experiencing feelings of uncertainty, fear or worry related to COVID-19 should call 732-845-2070 for support.”
For more Monmouth County news updates and information regarding the COVID-19 situation, go to www.visitmonmouth.com