The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders provided updates about COVID-19, the Nov. 3 general election and CARES Act funding during a press conference held on Sept. 24.
“I know there has been a lot of talk about the recent uptick in COVID cases in Monmouth County and I would like to shed some light on these cases and the reasons they are occurring,” Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said in a press release provided by the county.
“The Monmouth County Health Department’s (MCHD) case investigations have determined the bulk of exposures are from youth athletic facilities, school sports practices and gatherings that occurred during Labor Day weekend and almost half of the new cases are young adults between the ages of 16 and 25.
“It is also important to note the MCHD has conducted a thorough review of all the COVID-19 cases in the 29 towns they serve and no cases have been linked to restaurants or retail food establishments at this time,” Arnone said.
Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley offered updates about the Monmouth County COVID-19 testing program at locations in Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Keansburg, Long Branch, Neptune and Red Bank.
“The county has administered 2,749 tests to date and 57 of those tests have come back positive,” Kiley said. “These low positivity percentages can be attributed to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and getting tested for the virus.”
The testing site locations, dates and hours of operation are posted on the county’s website at www.visitmonmouth.com
Arnone spoke about the upcoming general election and what the county is doing in preparation for Nov. 3.
“I want you to know Monmouth County is doing everything in our power to make this process as efficient, accessible and secure as possible,” Arnone said. “In an effort to assist with the counting of ballots from the nearly 500,000 registered votes in Monmouth County, we have purchased four additional ballot scanners and the most robust and secure suite of integrated voting software solutions on the market, investing more than $230,000.”
Dominion Voting Systems’ software will automatically and digitally route ballots for adjudication. This feature is a first in the industry and eliminates the manual duplicating of ballots. This also protects the ballot chain of custody and limits the handling of voter marked ballots, according to the press release.
“Monmouth County has also hired 60 individuals to assist the Board of Elections with opening the ballots and placing them in the scanners,” Arnone said.
Arnone also provided an update about the distribution of grant dollars through the Monmouth County CARES Economic Assistance Grant program and its use for the Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD).
“To date, we have received more than 2,200 applications and handled more than 3,400 phone calls regarding the program. We have approved more than $13.5 million in grant dollars, which goes directly into the pockets of small business owners,” he said. “We still have nearly $6.5 million available, so please submit an application to www.MonmouthCountyCares.com. All you need is your tax return to get started.”
The county has also allocated $308,000 of CARES Act funding to help the MCVSD enter into a contract with BAYADA, a home health care agency, to bring in school nurses into the vocational school district.
“As of today, in speaking with the administration at the vocational school district, it is anticipated that schools will open on Oct. 5 with a hybrid in-person model,” Arnone said. “The district is working diligently to resolve any remaining staffing concerns in order to open all schools and is currently accepting applications for possible vacancies throughout the district in a variety of subjects.”
All positions and instructions about how to apply are posted at www.MCVSD.org or www.njschoolsjobs.com. Individuals with 60 college credits required for substitute teachers are encouraged to apply, according to the press release.