March 30, 2020
Following are today’s numbers and key takeaways as reported by the Governor’s Office:
- Gov. Phil Murphy remains concerned about the personal protection equipment (PPE) shortage.
- The modeling for hospital beds is looking more encouraging PROVIDED people practice social distancing.
- 300 ventilators are in transit expected within 48 hours.
- PNC Bank signed on to the 90-day mortgage grace period.
Updates to the Governor’s Executive Order 107 (stay-at-home order):
- Car dealerships may sell vehicles online and deliver to homes or provide curbside pickup.
- Realtors can show houses using 1:1 ration and social distancing.
- Golf Courses must be closed.
- Fire arms dealers may be open by appointment only.
- ABC is allowing brew pubs to home deliver.
- A joint federal/state task force is being launched to combat unlawful hoarding, price gouging, etc.
- Unlawful gathering will be cracked down on and people will be prosecuted.
Meanwhile, Apple and CDC, together with the White House and FEMA, launched a new website and app with a COVID-19 screening tool and resources to help people protect their health. Click here for more info.
And the Berkeley Heights Volunteer Rescue Squad reminds everyone that if you do not require life-saving care, please take yourself to the hospital if needed, and do not call 911. We don’t want to unnecessarily put our first responders at risk or take an ambulance out of service that could be used for other medical emergencies such as heart attacks, strokes, allergic reactions, and traumatic falls. Please follow these guidelines before calling 911 or seeking medical advice.
Visit FEMA’s Rumor Control Page on COVID-19 Here
Federal Government’s Coronavirus Page here
By the Numbers
Update on number of COVID-19 cases:
- NJ - 16,636 total; 3,347 new cases
- 37 new deaths; 198 total
- Union County - 226 new cases; 1,213 total cases
- Union County - 4 new deaths in Union County; 15 total deaths
March 28, 2020
FEMA Extends Grace Period for Flood Insurance Renewal Premiums
FEMA continues to take proactive steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to help serve its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) customers who may be experiencing financial hardships, the agency is extending the grace period to renew flood insurance policies from 30 to 120 days.
To avoid a lapse in coverage, there is typically a 30-day grace period to renew National Flood Insurance Program policies. However, due to the widespread economic disruption arising from this pandemic, FEMA recognizes that policyholders may not meet the standard deadline.
This extension will allow additional time for policyholders who may be struggling financially to pay insurance premiums and ensure their policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium due to circumstances beyond their control.
If a policy has an expiration date between February 13, 2020 and June 15, 2020, then the NFIP insurer must receive the appropriate renewal premium within 120 days of the expiration date to avoid a lapse in coverage. Likewise, if a policyholder receives an underpayment notice dated between February 13, 2020, and June 15, 2020, then the NFIP insurer must receive the additional premium amount requested within 120 days of the date of the notice.
Policyholders who need additional time to pay their premiums, beyond the 120-day extension, should contact their agent or insurer to inquire about other options the insurer may offer for premium payment.
By the Numbers
Update on number of COVID-19 cases:
- NJ - 11,125 total; 2,289 new cases
- 32 new deaths; 140 total
- Union County - 132 new cases; 742 total cases
- Union County - 7 new deaths in Union County; 11 total deaths
Berkeley Heights numbers - awaiting updated information as of 1:34 PM today.
March 27, 2020
Union County Testing Facility Open Saturday
The COVID-19 Drive Thru Facility at Kean University will be open this Saturday, March 28th from 9:00AM until 2:00PM. Residents with a VALID PRESCRIPTION for Covid-19 testing should email COVID19TEST@UCNJ.ORG with the following information:
Name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, gender, and a photo of their script. They may the go to the Union County Drive-Thru Testing Center for COVID-19 at Kean University.
Weekday hours at the testing center are Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm.
By the Numbers
Update on number of COVID-19 cases:
- 27 additional deaths statewide; new fatalities range in age from 27 to 97 years of age; State total is now 108 and this includes 3 deaths in Union County; no new deaths in Union County were reported though that may not be accurate based on what we are hearing.
- 1,982 new positive cases in New Jersey; of these new cases, 739 are cases that are location unknown; total cases for New Jersey is now 8,825 (state numbers may be inaccurate)
- Union County has 48 new cases, bringing the County total to 519 – howeverm, that total may not be accurate due to the number of location unknowns and information we are getting locally.
- The State is currently reporting 32.9% hospitalization rate.
There will also be guidance forthcoming on:
- OPRA regarding loosened response times
- There will also be a 30-day extension on introduction and adoption of budgets.
- The Homestead rebate is being rescinded pending the state budget and the state will reimburse any municipality that has already printed their tax bills
March 26, 2020
UPDATE #2 - The COVID-19 crisis is having an impact on youth who are food insecure and also those in need of mental health services. The Union County Youth Services Bureau urges youth and their families struggling with access to food, mental health issues, abuse or neglect to pick up the phone and call these numbers:
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski joined the daily County COVID-19 call on Thursday, thanking everyone on the front lines for their work and efforts to get us through this pandemic. Rep. Malinowski then updated municipal officials on the effects of the economic relief package.
- Help for businesses and individuals is on the way.
- There is good news regarding small business assistance in that small businesses will be reimbursed if they put employees on leave.
- A massive and forgivable loan program with no collateral required for businesses that retain employees or call them back to work after this pandemic will be announced.
- Grant for small businesses should be forthcoming in a couple of weeks – details still being worked out but that would be a 10,000 dollar grant to hold them over until loans can be processed.
- The hope is that despite the generous unemployment benefits being offered by this package, small business owners will retain their employees.
- The Senate is creating a $150 billion fund for state and local governments that will work its way down.
- Much more information to come on the total package in the coming days.
In addition, Malinowski answered there is a freeze on foreclosures and evictions on any mortgages backed by Fanny and Freddy Mac. He suggested contacting banks to find out when interest rates for mortgages and refinancing would translate.
- 203 COVID-19 tests were administered yesterday and there was a steady line today. The operation is going smoothly.
- The EARLIEST schools will open is April17th and that date could be moved back further.
- The FEMA disaster application for the State of New Jersey was approved by the President.
- There have been a total of 155,000 unemployment claims so far.
- Statewide there were 19 additional deaths; 81 statewide deaths so far – 51 male, 30 female; THERE WERE NO ADDITIONAL DEATHS IN UNION COUNTY.
- 2,492 new positive tests statewide, bringing the total to 6,876 across the state; this includes 147 new positives in Union County – bringing the County total to 432.
UPDATE #1 - IMPORTANT CHANGES AT THE UNION COUNTY TEST SITE:
To be able to provide a larger amount of testing to our residents we are speeding the process at the COVID-19 Drive Thru Facility at Kean University in the following manner:
If you have a VALID PRESCRIPTION for Covid-19 testing please emai COVID19TEST@UCNJ.ORG with the following information: Your name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth and a photo of your script, and then you may directly go to our Union County Drive-Thru Testing Center for COVID-19 at Kean University.
The testing Center is open Monday-Friday from 9 am-5 pm.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was on MSNBC Thursday morning, saying that while the Garden State has lost "62 precious lives," to COVID-19, that number is going to go up. And, given that New Jersey is more aggressively testing now, the positive case numbers also will go up. The one thing New Jersey desperately needs - aside from residents to abide by social distancing and other guidelines - is personal protective equipment (PPE).
"We are turning over every stone we can in our own right in New Jersey in the country and around the world," Murphy said. "That’s probably our Number 1 priority right now. We are way short."
Murphy said he is not abiding by any timelines as to when we may get back "normal" that are not based on science and numbers of COVID-19 cases going down.
"We gotta break the back of the virus first, then open back up the economy," he said.
In other COVID-19 news...
- Also, Murphy issued Executive Order 110, which directs all childcare centers in New Jersey to certify by March 27th that they will solely serve as emergency childcare centers for the children of essential workers. Childcare centers that do not certify that they can and will exclusively care for these children of essential workers and abide by emergency child care standards must close by April 1st.
- The dates for introduction and approval of budgets by both counties and municipalities are extended from March 29, 2020 to April 28, 2020. The deadline for county and municipal budget adoption is likewise extended from April 30, 2020 to May 30, 2020.
- Expenditures resulting from a state of emergency are treated as an exception to the appropriations cap law (N.J.S.A. 40A:45.3(bb)), 1977 county levy cap law (N.J.S.A. 40A:4-45.4(q)), and the 2010 levy cap law.
A representatives from Senator Cory Booker’s office confirmed on our County call that lawmakers are still finalizing language and that funding increases in the federal stimulus package include unemployment, transit, state stabilization programs and healthcare. They are working with Senator Bob Menendez’s office to get it done. Also included in the bill:
- The first emergency funding request allocated over $3B to the Secretary of HHS to be invested in state and local health departments ($950M), community health centers ($100M), and the purchasing of vaccines and treatments ($300M), etc...
- CV3 includes an additional $100 billion for a new program that will direct aid to health care institutions treating patients on the front line of the crisis. These include hospitals, public and not-profit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers.
- CV3 includes $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to purchase personal protective equipment, lab testing, infection control and mitigation to prevent spread, and other public health preparedness and response activities.
- CV3 also includes $3.5 billion to help healthcare sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential access childcare assistance.
- WORKERS: CV3 includes an extended UI program that increases the maximum unemployment benefit by $600 per week and ensures that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months. It ensures that all workers are protected whether they work for businesses small, medium or large, along with self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy. We pushed for structural reforms that will allow workers to get unemployment insurance quickly and would allow furloughed workers to stay on as employees, so that when, God willing, this crisis ends, they can quickly resume work.
- FAMILIES: CV3 provides direct cash payments of $1200 to working class Americans, twice the amount originally proposed. An additional $500 cash payment is available per child. Senator Booker was among the first to advocate for direct, immediate cash payments to families. CV3 allocates more than $7 billion for housing and homelessness assistance programs to help underserved and working-class Americans avoid evictions and minimize impacts caused by unemployment or other unforeseen circumstances related to COVID-19. Throughout the crisis, Senator Booker has fought to protect families who fall behind on payments for rent or mortgage, advocated for student loan relief, and filed legislation to temporarily ban bank overdraft fees.
- SMALL BUSINESS: New Jersey is now approved for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan program – businesses can apply for long term, low interest loans through the SBA’s website. In CV3, Senator Booker pushed for an additional $10 billion for SBA to provide emergency grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses. There’s another $17 billion for SBA to cover 6 months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.
- EDUCATION: CV3 includes $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions for them to provide continuing educational service to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions. To ensure that children with disabilities are receiving the educational support they need while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Booker has urged the US Dept. of Education to provide school administrators and educators with the guidance on how students will receive access to school lunch programs, online instruction, and other critical services.
March 25, 2020
#1 Update: New Jersey Launches Job Portal to Connect Out-of-Work Residents to Opportunities in Critical Industries
Governor Phil Murphy today announced the launch of a new online portal to connect New Jersey residents with jobs in critical industries responding to COVID-19. The jobs portal is available here:https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov. Employers in critical industries should submit information about openings with urgent hiring needs related to COVID19 here: https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake.
“My Administration’s top priority is helping New Jersey residents and businesses overcome the unprecedented disruptions COVID-19 is causing while staying healthy and safe,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “The jobs portal will give residents who have lost their jobs or seen their hours reduced an opportunity to get back to work while also providing crucial support to the industries that are on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic.”
The jobs portal already has more than 12,000 openings and more are being added every day. These openings are in industries that are critical to New Jersey’s COVID-19 response, such as grocery stores, shipping and logistics, healthcare, janitorial services, human services, and warehousing. By connecting workers to these new openings, the tool will allow New Jersey residents to get back to work while increasing these key industries’ capacity to perform their essential duties.
The has created a special intake tool for employers seeking to have openings posted on the portal. Employers can access the intake tool directly via https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake.
Job openings currently available through the portal are primarily in industries that are central to the State’s COVID-19 response, but going forward the portal will expand to include any businesses that need to tap into New Jersey’s talent resources.
Additional information about New Jersey’s COVID-19 response is available at https://cv.business.nj.gov.
#2 Update: Per Governor Murphy, effective March 24, additional businesses considered "Essential":
Effective immediately, the following businesses are considered essential:
- Mobile phone retail and repair shops;
- Bicycle shops, but only to provide service and repair;
- Livestock feed stores;
- Nurseries and garden centers;
- Farming equipment stores.
Businesses that remain operational must comply with social distancing.
#3 Update: COVID-19 Cases in NJ as of Wednesday, March 25:
Updated COVID-19 Wednesday, 3-25-20, 1:05 PM:
NJ total- 4,402
736 new cases
359 unknown (residence not yet identified)
18 new deaths
62 total deaths
Union County - 272 total cases
20 new cases
1 new death, 3 total
Berkeley Heights - 14 total cases
1 new case
March 23, 2020
- New Jersey 935 additional positives for a total of 2,844
- Union County 66 new cases for a new total of 189
- 7 more people have died for a total of 27 statewide, with one reported in Union County
The state has mandated that all private labs report their results (positives and negatives) directly to the state lab. This will help the Department of Health in having more reliable data.
Union County’s mobile testing site at Kean University opened Monday for Union County residents and first responders who have a prescription to be tested. Doctor offices are securing patient appointments at the site via a secure server.
The FEMA testing site at PNC Arts Center in Holmdel opened Monday morning. They reached capacity within less than an hour of opening, as has also been the case at the Bergen County location each day.
The state is still working on developing guidance on day care centers, planning/zoning deadline extensions, and hiring retired first responders as per diem to fill staffing short falls.
Pearly Whites in Berkeley Heights donated 500 patient masks and 11 boxes of gloves to our Town’s first responders. THANK YOU, PEARLY WHITES!
March 21, 2020
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Saturday said that there are 432 new positive test results for COVID-19 since yesterday, bringing the state’s total to 1,327; there are five new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total number of such deaths at 16. Meanwhile, on Saturday, Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Corey Booker hosted a conference call with New Jersey mayors, including Mayor Devanney, in which they discussed federal legislation being passed to help localities, businesses and residents deal with the effects of the global pandemic. And, here in Berkeley Heights, a volunteer group has been set up to act as a 311-style on-call system to connect local residents and their needs to services.
Governor Murphy on Saturday issued an Executive Order that includes a broad-ranging “stay at home” edict for Garden State residents. "We must flatten the curve," the governor said during a press conference. "We can no longer maintain a sense of business as usual. ...Just as it’s no time to panic, it’s time to be smart, transparent and aggressive."
His Executive Order further directs the closure of all non-essential retail businesses to the public, with the exceptions of:
- Grocery stores, farmer’s markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores, including retailers that offer a varied assortment of foods comparable to what exists at a grocery store;
- Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
- Medical supply stores;
- Gas stations;
- Convenience stores;
- Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
- Hardware and home improvement stores;
- Banks and other financial institutions;
- Laundromats and dry-cleaning services;
- Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years;
- Pet stores;
- Liquor stores;
- Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;
- Printing and office supply shops;
- Mail and delivery stores.
Also on Saturday, Mayor Devanney participated in a call with state Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Corey Booker and 99 other New Jersey mayors to get an update on what is happening at the federal level to deal with COVID-19. Senator Menendez is in active talks with President’s Trump’s administration and New Jersey senators working on third legislative package which may include:
- Robust benefits for Unemployment Insurance, extending benefits to December 31st
- Benefits to include self-employed
- Additional $600 per person
- Extending benefits 13 additional weeks no later than December 31, 2020
- Proposing a $250 billion package
Additional initiatives being negotiated:
- Working on a robust small business package that allows for broad eligibility and loan forgiveness
- Payroll assistance; details being worked out
- Greater flexibility on commercial loans
- A robust SBA program that will include grants
- Additional funding for Community Development Block Grants and fire grants
- Emergency stabilization program for states (and possibly counties)
A Berkeley Heights volunteer group has been set up to act as a 311-style on-call system. Local residents can call 908-312-2066 if they are seeking any information relating to the following during this health emergency:
- Services for seniors
- Help getting groceries or other items from stores
- Setting up regular check-in calls with people who cannot/should not leave their homes under the state’s current "stay-at-home" order
- Basic information about Township services being offered
- Where to get toilet paper and toilet paper (supply is for senior citizens only, please)
- Activities for social distancing
- How to access physical activity programs from certain gyms remotely
Volunteers will answer the phone, and connect residents with the entity offering the services they need.
In other COVID-19 news:
- https://covid19.nj.gov/ is the official COVID-19 news source for New Jersey residents
- Each state now has a COVID-19 testing site up and running
- New York State now has about 10,000 cases of COVID-19, but the state has been doing massive testing in the past few days.
- President Trump late Friday evening approved a disaster declaration for New York, which opens up federal support for state and local recovery efforts in areas affected by COVID-19.
- Trump has signed two Coronavirus economic stimulus packages that combined cost over $100 billion; a third bill being negotiated by senators will cost roughly $1 trillion.
March 20, 2020
The NJ General Assembly acted on bills combating the COVID-19 crisis. These bills were passed by the Senate yesterday. Governor Murphy also issued an executive order establishing a 2-1-1 hotline for the latest up to the minute details on the COVID-19 crisis. NJ 211 is New Jersey’s statewide, comprehensive, information and referral service operated by United Ways of New Jersey.
Newly passed state-wide programs:
- Prohibits foreclosure and tenant evictions during a state of emergency.
- Appropriates $15 Million for Food Bank aid for families in need.
The state also passed legislation impacting Local Government:
- Allows public bodies to conduct meetings by electronic means during periods of emergency.
- Permits extension of deadlines for adoption of county and municipal budgets under certain circumstances.
- Provides paid leave without utilizing accumulated leave time for local government employees under certain circumstances
- Modifies deadline by which public agencies are required to respond to requests for government records during emergency
Legislature passed the following bills impacting our School Systems
- Allows for remote instruction to be included in the minimum required 180 days and a grant program that will provide and expand access to technology and equipment for students in certain school districts.
- Requires school districts to provide school meals or meal vouchers to students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals during school closures due to COVID-19 epidemic.
- Would allocate funds to expand access to laptops, tablets, hot spot devices and other technology for students to use at home or at school. This bill would address the digital divide and ensure students have the technology they need for remote instruction.
Legislature passed the following actions on Business and Employee Assistance
- Would allow eligible employees under the Family Leave and Disability Act to use benefits for epidemic-related emergencies.
- Provides paid leave without utilizing accumulated time of leave for local government employees under certain circumstances.
- Requires Commissioner of Human Services to issue supplemental cash assistance payments to Work First New Jersey recipients during a public health emergency.
- Creates “Temporary Lost Wage Unemployment Program;” allows persons to claim for lost wages due to Coronavirus disease 2019, and employers to pay wages to workers ordered under quarantine by licensed healthcare practitioner; appropriates $20,000,000.
- Automatically extends time to file gross income tax or corporation business tax return if federal government extends filing or payment due date for federal returns.
Legislature passed this bill on Food Security
- Legislation to require food access information be displayed on websites of 2-1-1 system and executive branch departments during public health emergencies.
Legislature passed bill on Healthcare Sanitizing
- Appropriates $10 Million for the sanitation of nursing homes, long-term care facilities, urgent care centers, state psychiatric hospitals, homeless shelters and retirement centers.
Per our daily call with Union County:
- The tax appeal filing deadline has been changed to May 1, 2020.
- SBA Disaster Loans available to small businesses. Click here and here for details.
- Federal tax day has been changed to July 15, 2020. The state passed legislation yesterday that moves the state deadline to July 15, 2020 as well.
- The Surrogate’s Office will be closed to the public effective 3/23/20.
- Adult medical day care is being halted statewide effective today. (NJ DOH)
- Changes at the Bergen County testing site: Any New Jersey resident, regardless of age, who resides within a 50 mile radius of the location, WHO IS SYMPTOMATIC, can be tested.
- Pet grooming establishments were included in yesterday’s order for personal care establishments to close effective at 8:00PM on Thursday, March 19th.
- NJ Transit (RAIL ONLY) has moved to weekend schedule; bus schedules remain the same for now.
March 19, 2020
As of today, there were 318 new positive cases across New Jersey since yesterday, bringing the total to 742 total in NJ; 7 of those new cases are in Union County, bringing the County total to 23. As of 8 p.m. tonight, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has closed all personal care facilities via executive order. That includes: barber shops, beauty salons, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, public and private social clubs. This means all such facilities in Berkeley Heights are closed until further notice, as of 8 pm tonight.
Meanwhile, a new study from National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Princeton University scientist in The New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. Research found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was present in aerosols (droplets of fluid produced by sneezing or coughing from nose or mouth) up to 3 hours, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel.
These results provide key information about the stability of SAES-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may get the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.
The findings confirm the guidance from public health professionals to use precautions similar to those for influenza and other respiratory viruses to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
In other news:
The Atlantic Health System COVID-19 Nurse screening hotline started for the community is 862-260-3199. People can arrange appointments for the drive through, if indicated, for testing, which is a tent for swabbing at 475 South Street in Morristown.
The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee and Township administration are working on a directory of services offered to residents and children during this public health emergency. This will include accessing books or programs remotely from our public library, programs offered by the YMCA, local craft delivery and more.
The Bergen County drive-thru testing site will be open tomorrow (Friday, March 20); people don’t need to register but they do need to prove NJ residency. They will only screen people who are symptomatic.
Governor Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, the New Jersey Department of Health, and the United Ways of New Jersey announced that NJ 211 has been activated to help handle COVID-19 related calls from New Jersey residents. All residents with questions or concerns about COVID-19 and resources available to them can call 2-1-1. NJ 211 is New Jersey’s statewide, comprehensive, information and referral service operated by United Ways of New Jersey.
Can small business owners who have been forced to close apply for unemployment? If the business owner pays themselves through a 1099 they CANNOT apply for unemployment. If a business owner pays themselves by W-2 they may be able to file for employment. They need to check their paystub and if there is a deduction for unemployment they can apply online for unemployment. If there is not a deduction for unemployment they are not eligible to collect the benefit.
Elections Matters - Per County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi, the United States Department of State is no longer accepting in person applications for passports (unless a true emergency), and is delaying routine requests by 6-8 weeks. As such, the County Clerk will be closing the Elizabeth Passport offices effective 4 p.m. tomorrow, March 20th. Also the Clerk’s Office will be announcing an extension of the deadline for Notary Commissions (past 90 days). The Governor’s notice on elections today does not impact any Board of Education elections in Union County since they are held in June, but will impact the filing of petitions. More guidance to come.
Murphy also on Friday signed an executive order implementing changes to upcoming elections to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that voters can exercise their right to vote without risking their health and safety, such as: Candidates filing petitions for the March 30th deadline shall be able to submit their petitions online, in addition to in person, and the Secretary of State shall create an online form that allows voters to submit their signatures on petitions electronically.
The Treasury Department and the IRS are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can’t file by the April 15, 2020 deadline everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return.
March 18, 2020
The state total of reported COVID cases is 427; 2 of those cases included in the number conveyed on our call were found to be from out of state. There are 12 new cases in Union County, bringing the County total to 26.
- FEMA is setting up testing centers for people over 60, first responders and health responders who are symptomatic; those centers will be located at PNC Arts Center and the Bergen County Arts Center.
- The DCA has launched a new site to help connect residents with resources that may be available to them. Click here to be directed to the DCAid website.
- Berkeley Heights Township officials continue to have daily calls with state and county officials to get updated reports on how to move forward in this state of public health emergency. We also have daily calls with our emergency response teams.
March 17, 2020
As of today, there are 89 new cases statewide since yesterday - 267 total in New Jersey to date; 7 of those new cases are in Union County, bringing the county total to 15.
- The Downtown Beautification Committee and Communications Committee, together with the Township, have put together a directory of businesses in Berkeley Heights, their changes in service and hours during the state of emergency and how you can support them during their time of need. Visit that directory here.
- Stop & Shop in Berkeley Heights has carved out hours for our senior citizens. More on that here. Our Berkeley Heights Office of Emergency Management (OEM), as well as Recreation Department, are working to inform seniors of the evolving events and to plan rides to stores and medication pickups, if needed.
- All playgrounds in Berkeley Heights are now closed until further notice; residents are encouraged to use the walking and hiking trails and tracks in town, go running and otherwise get outside and be active. Please just avoid congregating, per social distancing guidelines.
- A new state page has been created to offer guidance to all New Jersey businesses being impacted by COVID-19. Please refer to the following link: http://cv.business.nj.gov/
- Restaurants can continue their delivery/take-out services beyond 8 PM. Additional guidance regarding restaurants is forthcoming from the state.
- The state of New Jersey is working with the Small Business Administration to come up with a small business loan product.
- Two global testing sites to be operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be operating this weekend - one in Monmouth County and one in Bergen County. There will be no residency requirements but people will need a prescription. More information on this to come.
- The Union County Director of Public Works held the first of several ongoing calls with the DPW directors in Union County towns on Monday; these calls were constructive and will be regularly occurring going forward.
March 16, 2020
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday issued an executive order concerning the COVID-19 public health crisis, which will impose the following restrictions:
To slow the spread of #COVID19, he is ordering:
- Closure of ALL pre-K, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities beginning 3/18
- Closure of ALL casinos, racetracks, theaters, gyms
- Closure of ALL non-essential retail, recreational, & entertainment businesses after 8:00 PM
- Banning gatherings of 50+
- All bars and restaurants are closed for eat-in services effective 8:00 PM tonight. After 8:00 PM, these establishments may open for takeout and delivery services ONLY, until further notice. These restrictions exist during daytime hours.
All pre-K through grade 12 schools (public, private, and parochial) and all colleges and universities will close effective Wednesday, March 18th until it’s deemed by health officials to be safe for in-person classes to resume. We’ve worked closely to ensure that the overall educational and individual needs of students can be met during this closure, including appropriate home instruction and continued access to free and reduced meals. Starting tonight, all non-essential and non-emergency travel in New Jersey is strongly discouraged between the hours of 8:00 PM AND 5:00 AM. This will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. We want everyone to be home – and not out.
Essential businesses which are necessary for the public’s health, safety, and welfare – like supermarkets and grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, and gas stations – may remain open past 8:00 PM.
Effective 8:00 PM tonight, all movie theaters, gyms, casinos, and racetracks will close entirely until it is deemed safe for their reopening. Online gaming will continue.
Effective tonight, all other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses MUST CLOSE after 8:00 PM. During daytime hours, these businesses may remain open if they limit their occupancy to no more than 50 persons and adhere to social distancing guidelines.
- All movie theaters, gyms and casinos in New York and Connecticut will also be ordered closed at 8 p.m. Monday, March 16, and will remain closed until further notice to protect against the coronavirus pandemic, the states’ governors announced today.
- New Jersey now has 178 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 8 of which are in Union County (according to state lab results).
- Union County is operating with essential employees only; anyone who can work from home is being told to do so.
- Each New Jersey county has been tasked with setting up at least 1 drive-up testing facility; Union County is working to have theirs up and running by this weekend.
- Our Municipal court sessions have been suspended for two weeks, through March 27. Berkeley Heights has a shared court with New Providence and Berkeley Heights.
- Our Berkeley Heights Downtown Beautification Committee and Communications Committee are working with the local businesses on a directory to put on our Township website, with current hours, services being offered, and other information as they try to stay open and serve the public for the duration of this public health emergency. This directory will be updated continuously.
March 15, 2020
As of today, Westfield, Garwood and Linden each have a presumptive case of COVID-19. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, there are now 31 new positive cases statewide, bringing New Jersey’s total to 100 to date.
Meanwhile, we have decided to keep the public parks and playground in town OPEN, but we need the help of EVERY RESIDENT - parents and kids, included - to prevent the spread of the virus, by practicing "social distancing." The situation changes hour by hour, and we are in constant communication with our first responders, county and state officials on what comes next. We have come up with a staggered staffing plan for our Department of Public Works, Sewer Department, and Police Department, to prevent the spread of the disease among the departments critical to taking care of, and protecting, our critical infrastructure and our community at large. That plan goes into effect this Tuesday, March 17. We continue to dialogue with our Recreation Department and Commission about status of fields and programming; the public library is closed for the time being. We also are communicating with our business community to come up with ways to keep local businesses going while keeping residents, and the employees of those businesses, safe.
We urge residents to check the special COVID-19 section of our Township website (BerkeleyHeights.gov/covid19) to get all of the latest information regarding Berkeley Heights’ response to COVID-19, as well as to access other area information, and Coronavirus resources.
March 14, 2020
COVID-19 STATE OF EMERGENCY INFORMATION FROM UNION COUNTY, NJ
Effective Monday March 16th, the Union County Paratransit System will run only life-sustaining medical trips. All other transportation is cancelled until further notice, including the Route 22 Safety Shuttle.
MEALS ON WHEELS
All remaining congregate sites will be closed effective March 18th (some have already closed by their jurisdictions). Any person who previously ate at one of the 23 congregate meals sites and is unable to sustain without this assistance should call Union County Meals on Wheels 908-527-4870. Home delivered meals for persons with disabilities and seniors over 60 and older will continue and will be expanded for persons in need of food delivery in their homes.
EMERGENCY SHELTER FOR PERSONS WHO ARE HOMELESS
Persons who are homeless or anyone assisting a homeless person should be referred to the UC Division of Social Services at 342 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth NJ or call 908-965-2700. All arrangements may be made over the telephone in this State of Emergency. After 4:00 pm, all after-hour referrals for shelter should be directed to the Statewide Homeless Hotline, 2-1-1 or 1-877-652-1148.
SNAP FOOD STAMPS AND CASH ASSISTANCE
All benefits may be activated or maintained by contacting the UC Division of Social Services at 342 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth or call 908-965-2700. These services may be fully provided via the telephone in this State of Emergency.
MENTAL HEALTH DISASTER RESPONSE
Should you or someone you know need information about Union County Mental Health Services, please note the following:
For 24 Hour Emergency Psychiatric Services, please contact:
- Mobile Community Outreach (Adults): (908) 994-7131
- Union County Mobile Response & Stabilization (Children): (877) 652-7624
- RWJ University Hospital: (732) 381-4200
- Overlook Hospital: 908-522-2000
Should you need information about mental health or addiction services in Union County, please dial: 908-527-4846 or 908-527-4844.
24-HOUR RAPE CRISIS HOTLINE
Anyone in need of assistance due to sexual assault should call the 24 hour hotline: 908-233-RAPE
FAMILY CRISIS INFORMATION
24/7 response within 1 hour for youths in crisis or unable to remain in their homes by calling 908-514-2313.
Until further notice the Pediatric Immunization Clinic remains open at 40 Parker Road Elizabeth NJ.
March 12, 2020
The 48-year-old Berkeley Heights resident who had a case of COVID-19 has been discharged from the hospital; his condition has improved and he remains isolated at home. Our Health Department is in touch with him and his family every day to check on his progress.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a media telebriefing on Wednesday. Click here to read the transcript and/or to listen to the audio. We recapped some of the highlights in an easy-to-read bullet format for you, which can be found here.
The Berkeley Heights Board of Education is holding a meeting tonight at 7:30; our Health Officer will be giving a presentation on COVID-19.
Our emergency response team, which involves the Mayor, Township Administrator, Police Chief, Police Captain, Office of Emergency Management Coordinators, and Rescue Squad, are meeting or speaking daily on what preparations are being made and what moves to take next. We are also speaking with other towns in Union County, and the County manager, to get updates, as well as speaking with state officials and the Berkeley Heights Board of Education.
We will be sending out more information tonight or tomorrow morning as to what the next few days will bring in terms of government operations.
March 11, 2020
Please view our Coronavirus FAQ here
March 10, 2020
The 48-year-old male Berkeley Heights individual who had a presumptive positive test for Coronavirus is being treated at Overlook Medical Center. As of today, based on the contact tracing investigation that Union County has been doing, alongside the New Jersey Department of Health, this resident’s whereabouts prior to being hospitalized do not pose a public health risk to the community. Any person who may have been at risk would have already been notified and advised to self-quarantine for 14 days. The family has also been quarantined.
The Governor’s Office will host daily calls with representatives of each of the 21 counties in New Jersey to provide updates on the status of COVID-19 within our state. The Union County Manager will participate in these calls, then he will share the information disseminated on those calls with the County municipalities.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those symptoms may appear within 2 to 14 days of exposure and can range from mild to severe. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your healthcare provider and tell them about your symptoms. They may have specific instructions for you before you head into the office, and likely will instruct you to wear a mask. They will decide whether you need to be tested, but keep in mind that there is no treatment for COVID-19 and people who are mildly ill are able to isolate at home.
For people who are ill with COVID-19, but are not sick enough to be hospitalized, please follow CDC guidance on how to reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
Please view our Coronavirus FAQ here.
Please view the Mayors Statement on COVID-19 here
The New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli on Monday confirmed the first case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-2019) in Union County. The individual who had a presumptive positive test is a 48-year-old male resident of Berkeley Heights. The individual is currently being treated at Overlook Medical Center. His test results will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing.
As of Monday afternoon, there are 11 presumptive positive cases and 24 individuals who are considered “persons under investigation” in New Jersey, Commissioner Persichilli said. That number does not include any cases pending in commercial labs. The state is focused on testing individuals who are symptomatic who have been exposed.
Although we are continuing to see an increase of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver reaffirmed during the conference that the overall risk to New Jersey residents remain low; all residents are urged to practice good preventative measures and safe respiratory hygiene. She added that the state continues to work with neighboring states and other federal agencies to adequately respond to this evolving situation.
Meanwhile, the Berkeley Heights Public School District will be closed Tuesday, March 10, for a thorough cleaning of all of the buildings. Please see the letter from Superintendent Melissa Varley here.
The outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus was first detected in China; the virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). As of Monday afternoon, there are 11 presumptive cases and 24 individuals who are considered "persons under investigation," Commissioner Persichilli said. That number does not include any cases pending in commercial labs. The state is focused on testing individuals who are symptomatic who have been exposed.
“The fact that we are continuing to see additional cases is concerning but it’s not unexpected,” Persichilli said. “It follows the trend we are seeing in the rest of the country, and the world.”
The onset of the Berkeley Heights resident’s symptoms was March 1. Exposure was symptomatic, he had friends who traveled from Milan. Those friends tested negative for COVID-19. Physicians from Overlook tested the patient for COVID-19 based on symptoms that were consistent with the disease. Clinical specimens were collected and sent to the New Jersey Public Health and Environmental Laboratories (PHEL) where laboratory testing confirmed the presumptive positive result. The results will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. The resident self-reported, and he self-quarantined; the family was quarantined after he received a positive test result. Information relating to the identity of this resident will not be released.
If you have recently returned from countries including China, Iran, South Korea and Italy, you should self-quarantine at home for 14 days after arriving in the United States. If you experience symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath upon your return, please seek medical attention. Make sure to call ahead so that your provider prepares to give you a mask if needed.
Health officials emphasize that the best way residents can protect themselves from coronavirus is by practicing safe respiratory hygiene. People who believe they have come into contact with the disease are asked to self-report and self-quarantine for 14 days.
There are everyday preventative actions you can take to help limit the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and flu, including:
Practice Good Hygiene:
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub for at least 20 seconds Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth Stay home if you are sick, and avoid sick people Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
Practice Social Distancing:
- Avoid close contact (Keep a distance of 6 feet) with people who appear to have a respiratory infection Avoid unnecessary physical contact – smile don’t shake hands Whenever practical, limit attendance at crowded events and replace in-person meetings/gatherings with telephone or web-based alternatives
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Those symptoms may appear within 2 to 14 days of exposure and can range from mild to severe. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions — like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness. If you are having symptoms, here are some critically important steps you can take to reduce your chances of spreading the virus:
Call your doctor first:
Communicate travel history and symptoms before arriving at a doctor’s office or health care facility, enabling the provider to determine the best setting for you to receive care.
Stay home except to get medical care:
Restrict your activities to limit the spread of the virus. If your symptoms are not severe, consider going online and using telehealth for 24/7 access to board certified physicians for consultations, diagnosis and treatment
Limit contact with other people and animals in your home. Where possible stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom.
Berkeley Heights residents with travel plans should review and follow CDC travel advisories available online at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers. Travelers who return home with symptoms are advised to seek health care, and to call ahead so their care provider is prepared to give them a mask if needed.
In Union County, N.J., the first step is to quarantine people who live in the same household as someone who has self-reported or otherwise been identified as someone who has potentially been exposed, because they are close contacts. Second,County health officials do contract tracing of people who came in close contact with the exposed resident, and they are also asked to be quarantined.
According to the CDC:
Learn more about the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Members of the public with questions about COVID-19 can call the New Jersey Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Call Center 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222. The call center is open 24/7 and offers guidance in several languages. Please note that this number is for the general public only. Clinicians should call their local health department for guidance.
Union County maintains its own webpage on COVID-19 at www.ucnj.org/coronavirus
Additional guidance and links to more resources are available from the New Jersey Department of Health at www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml
March 5, 2020
During the week of February 23, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported community spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 in California (in two places), Oregon and Washington. Community spread in Washington resulted in the first death in the United States from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility. As of March 5, the states that have reported case can be found here.
The outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
As of March 5, the U.S. stats are as follows:
- Total cases: 99
- Total deaths: 10
- States reporting cases: 13
Please check the Berkeley Heights School District’s COVID-19 information page here
Get the latest summary from the CDC directly here.
Click here to read more about what you need to know about COVID-19
Click here to read about what you should do if you think you’re sick with COVID-19
February 4, 2020
With recent cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) reported in several countries including the U.S., health officials are watchful for potential cases. Although this new virus in understandably a cause for concern, it is important for New Jersey residents to know that the risk to the public remains low. New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of nCoV at this time.
Based on what has been learned from past outbreaks we know that finding cases quickly and responding to them effectively is key. That rapid response helps ensure that the ill person receives the care they need, and it lessens the chance of other people getting sick. Fortunately, New Jersey has a strong disease surveillance system in place that includes partnerships with hospitals as well as local health departments.
The outbreak emerged in Wuhan, China on December 2019 and now globally includes more than 20,000 cases and 427 deaths. Eleven (11) U.S. cases have been confirmed in California, Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington State.
If you have had recent travel to China or close contact with someone who has and are experiencing symptoms it is important to call your health care provider before arriving to the office so they can make accommodations in advance.
Patients with confirmed nCoV infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. CDC believes at this time that symptoms of nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as two weeks after exposure.
When a new disease is circulating, it’s natural for people to ask what they can do to protect themselves and their families. The best guidance at this point is to take the same precautions recommended for avoiding colds and flu: People should stay home when they are sick, cover their cough and practice good hand washing.
The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the People’s Republic of China (this does not include the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, or the island of Taiwan). If you have recently returned from a trip to China and are feeling sick, call your health care provider and let them know of your travel and symptoms.
For more information regarding this new virus, please visit the New Jersey Department of Health’s website or call the NJDOH Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-222-1222. The call center is open to the public 24/7 and can accommodate callers in multiple languages.