NORTH BRUNSWICK – On Wednesday, March 12, Mayor Francis “Mac” Womack, Schools Superintendent Brian Zychowski and Office of Emergency Management Director Mark Cafferty gathered at the township municipal building for the township’s first COVID-19 video briefing.
Every morning since then, at 8:30 a.m., they have gone on camera to connect with residents, notifying them on the latest number of COVID-19 cases and local testing facilities, as well as updates on the township and school district levels.
“For the past three months, we felt that residents needed to hear from us directly about the ever changing news happening with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Womack said in a statement prepared by the township.
Womack said the briefings have helped residents stay up to date on changes to township programs and services.
He said the North Brunswick Food Bank has been crucial during the pandemic as it has provided vital assistance to township residents in need. It operates Tuesday mornings and Thursday evenings at the municipal building, 710 Hermann Road.
Zychowski said the township and school district has been united in their message on what is going on in the community.
“It’s important to give that message, ‘We are here for you,’ not just with a phone call or press release, but in person,” he said in the statement.
Zychowski has discussed the district’s remote learning and Grab and Go breakfast and lunch programs, virtual field trips and plans for virtual graduation.
During his report, Cafferty gives an update on the daily positive COVID-19 cases, provides virus symptoms and informs residents on testing facilities.
“It has been remarkable how fast the virus spread throughout the world, nation, state and into North Brunswick in such a short period of time,” he said in the statement.
The briefings air throughout the day on North Brunswick TV, available on demand on the station’s website and posted on the township’s and mayor’s office Facebook pages.
Councilwoman Amanda Guadagnino joined the briefing team in late March and has designed a daily COVID-19 update graphic and graphs charting positive cases and deaths.
Over time, the briefings have moved from the municipal building court room to virtual, as most of the broadcasts since April 1 have been on the Go To Meeting platform.
The change to a virtual setting allowed briefings to include guests, including Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, Commissioner of Education Lamont Repollet, Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald Rios, township officials and school administrators, teachers and students.
Womack emphasized one point that has been stressed during the briefings over the past few weeks.
“Even though we are opening up locally and throughout the state, the virus is still out there and we should not let our guard down,” he said in the statement.