SOUTH BRUNSWICK – March 10 marks the one-year anniversary when the first possible COVID-19 case was reported in South Brunswick.
The first notification didn’t come from a doctor, hospital or public health official, but from the township’s partnership with its schools; the school district became one of the first in Central New Jersey to go completely virtual. The initial planning and coordination led to quick isolation of community and school cases, according to a joint statement released by Office of Emergency Management Director and South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka, and Township Manager Bernard P. Hvozdovic Jr., who recognized the efforts by so many in battling this pandemic over the past year.
“Our community responded to the crisis as they always have by rising to meet the challenges. Each time we reached out and asked for assistance, you responded. Our business community rallied to supply needed gloves, masks and sanitizing equipment to EMS, police and fire. Our social services food pantry received hundreds of food items donated and thousands of dollars in contributions. Local groups gathered donations to help with all our efforts. Countless residents and families donated or dropped off meals for officers at headquarters. Officers conducted numerous graduation and birthday celebration drive-byes to help lift spirits,” the statement reads.
“Throughout the pandemic it is our emergency services of police, fire and EMS that has been at the forefront. We declared a State of Emergency at the start of the pandemic and it is the longest declaration in township history. There were over 4,000 EMS calls, over 600 fire calls, and 74,000 police calls since the start of the pandemic.
“While we continue to push through as a collective community, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll. In the past 12 months, we have lost 60 community members and 2,160 residents have fallen ill to the virus. The members we lost were from all aspects of our community, and their loss will forever be felt,” according to the statement.
Hayducka said specifically, “We have a long way to go, but we see progress. The fear that consumed so much of last March has been replaced by the hope of today. I want to thank the mayor and council for their support throughout this unprecedented year. It is the resources and assistance they provided that has enabled us to get through these difficult days.
“I am proud of the men and women of the South Brunswick Police Department and all those who have pulled together. We will continue to work to address the many issues before us as a result of the pandemic. We have seen time and time again from Hurricane Sandy to the pandemic, it is our neighbors and community that we can count on. We will get through this together,” he said in the statement.
While progress is being made, it is important to still take the necessary precautions of face coverings and social distancing.
“We have come too far to let our guard down. We will continue to work with county and state health officials to increase access to vaccines to all our residents,” Hvozdovic said in the statement.
The South Brunswick Office of Emergency Management will continue to provide weekly updates on the latest information on the pandemic throughout the months ahead.