Monmouth County Government declares local state of emergency
As the coronavirus continues to take its toll on the Jersey Shore, a number of restrictions are being put in place as well as other methods to help ensure the safety and health of the communities.
In Monmouth County, Freeholders and the Office of Emergency Management have announced the signing of an emergency declaration to grant the county access to additional resources.
"It gives us the access to county facilities, actives the staff in the Monmouth County Emergency Operations Center and it utilizes county employees where needed including assignments outside of their normal work locations," Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone said at a press conference.
Those outside normal work locations may include assisting in the Emergency Management Operations Center.
"I want to commend the Freeholder Board for declaring the County State of Emergency which will allow our Emergency Management team to move assets, purchase equipment, enter into mutual aid and deploy as needed, things that we need to do around the county," Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said.
The resources in the Emergency Operations Center include the County Health Department, Prosecutors Office, EMS Task Force and the OEM team.
Meanwhile, the Monmouth County Division of Social Services will accept clients in their reception area, "where precautions have been put into place to ensure there's no physical contact between Monmouth County employees and residents seeking services."
There's been an influx of 911 calls to the Emergency Operations Center of late with callers who say they have symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
Sheriff Golden asks that you only dial 911 if it's actual emergency.
"Please, only in an emergency...if you have a life-threatening illness, should you be dialing 911," Golden said.
Dispatchers and operators are playing a critical role in helping slow down those kinds of non-emergent calls.
"We have additional call-screening which was set up by the state office of telecomm services that guides our 911 systems throughout the state of New Jersey," Golden said. "There are additional questioning by our operators about flu like symptoms and narrowing that down to Covid-19 symptoms."
As the coronavirus continues to impact the Jersey Shore and beyond, it's becoming more clear that cases will continue to spike but Freeholder Arnone says that's actually a good thing.
"That means that we're finding out whose feeling ill, we're making sure we know, they know and then they move into a quarantine area and everybody gets better and it doesn't spread as much. So, that's a positive side," Arnone said.
A key way of preventing the virus onset and the virus from spreading is practicing social distancing especially with school out and kids home.
"It is not spring break, it is not Easter break and it is not summertime for the children," Arnone said. "We are asking you to be responsible. Social distancing can not be any more important now."
Monmouth County Freeholder Deputy Director Sue Kiley said the best defense against the virus is being diligent with respiratory hygiene including, "washing your hands, covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze with your sleeve and staying home if you're sick. Staying home with your families is your best defense."
In addition to the emergency declaration that was signed Thursday, Freeholder Arnone has also revised the list of county restrictions.
"With public safety in mind we have decided to continue to suspend all public access to county buildings, programs through April 3."
Arnone said this includes all Monmouth County Library branches and the Monmouth County Parks system buildings.
Alternative work plans are being put into place for Monmouth County employees and they will still be available to residents by phone and by email.
The Health Department has established a COVID-19 hotline to answer general questions. The number is 732-845-2070 and it is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.