I hope this message finds you well. The updates I have been posting over the last month have contained a great deal of information covering a host of different issues dealing with the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 and I hope they have been helpful. I urge you to look at all of them for valuable information.
The Borough Council and I have been regularly engaging in weekly conference calls with State and County Officials about COVID-19 and working with emergency personnel around the clock. Due to the volume of information over the last month, I thought it best to do a recap in conjunction with some new information.
Working with the State of New Jersey
This past week, Governor Murphy has signed new Executive Orders including Executive Order #126 prohibiting cable and telecommunication providers from terminating internet and voice service and Executive Order #125 implementing additional mitigation requirements on NJ TRANSIT, private carriers and restaurants. The Governor also has stated that schools will remain physically closed at least until May 15th. The Governor has also announced that Marinas and Boatyards will be able to operate.
The NJ Department of Consumer Affairs has created a FAQ section on refunds related to gym memberships, travel and events and has created a way to report those businesses price gouging consumers during this pandemic.
I encourage you to read my last update discussing amendments to previous Executive Orders and new ones pertaining to new requirements for businesses and contractors. If you would like to read all of the Governor’s Executive Orders in their entirety, you can click on the link for the full list.
I’d like to share again with you the most important link I feel will benefit you and that is the NJ COVID-19 Information HUB. This website has been set up by the State of New Jersey and is your one-stop website for all issues whether you are an individual or a business. There are various portals on this site for general questions about COVID-19 itself, what to do if you are infected or think you are infected, financial assistance and grants for both individuals and businesses along with areas for a range of social services assistance including but not limited to food, mental health and domestic violence.
For those having trouble processing unemployment claims, the New Jersey Department of Labor (NJ DOL) this week announced several measures to help speed up the process including upgrading computer technology, adding personnel and boosting phone capacity. You can click on the following link to read the press release from the NJ DOL. The NJ DOL has also made available important information on unemployment benefits for self-employed workers, independent contractors and gig workers during this crisis.
The State of New Jersey is also launching an Emergency Child Care Assistance Program (ECCAP) to help support child care costs when a parent or guardian is an essential employee, regardless of income.
Working with Ocean County
Recently, the Ocean County drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility was planning to move their operations from Ocean County College to the Ocean County Fire Academy in Waretown. This move will not be happening and the drive-thru testing facility will remain at Ocean County College. If you would like information on how to make an appointment to get tested for COVID-19, please visit the Ocean County Health Department. For links about services, documents, information and help from your Ocean County Government related to COVID-19, please visit the Ocean County COVID-19 Information Page.
COVID-19 In Point Pleasant
In regard to positive cases of COVID-19 in our community, I’ve previously stated that as tests become more available and time moves on, we will inevitably have a rise in positive cases as with all municipalities in our State. The names, addresses and statuses of these individual positive cases will not be revealed due to laws protecting one’s medical history. Not even the Borough Council and I are privy to specific information, only authorized medical personnel have this info as it is not public. Only the total number of cases in each municipality are available. Further, it should be noted that this is a running total from when testing began over a month ago, this number does not reflect recoveries, the Ocean County Health Department has not yet started to subtract recovered cases from the total. I’ve previously shared with you the link to view them daily and will share again below.
There is no need for you to be panicked by these numbers but there is a need for you to be concerned and to practice social distancing and good hygiene habits. The Ocean County Health Department is the lead agency for investigation of cases involving a positive COVID-19 person. If it is determined that a resident is in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19, the County Health Department will reach out. The County Health Department conducts a thorough contact tracing exercise on each case and notifies anyone that could have come in contact with that individual.
You can see the total number of cases not just in Point Pleasant but in every municipality in Ocean County daily by clicking on the link to the Ocean County Health Department. You can also click on the New Jersey Department of Health page as well for State numbers. At the moment, there is no more information other than total numbers in each town. County and State Officials have not yet created reports breaking down cases town by town in regard to recoveries, deaths or severity. Once reports like this become available, I will certainly relay them to you.
In recent news articles, Governor Murphy has repeatedly stated that the number of new positive cases is starting to slow down and the effects of social distancing are starting to be seen at the Jersey Shore. I am heartened to hear this, but that does not mean we can start being lax. We must remain vigilant and do our part to help flatten the curve. Unless you are going shopping for essential items, going to work because you are an essential employee or going outside for fresh air and exercise in a responsible manner, the best thing for you to continue to do is stay home. The Borough Council and I cannot stress enough the need to practice strict social distancing and good hygiene habits. It is imperative that we all do our part to help flatten the curve and prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Social Services Assistance & Help
Some of the challenges that this pandemic has presented us are not just financial. Some deal with having an adequate supply of food for families and seniors while others relate not just to physical health, but mental health as well. Some suffering from various addictions also need somewhere to turn to as being quarantined could have lasting implications. Others unfortunately could be faced with a situation involving domestic violence. In a previous post I shared some links to find assistance should you need them, you can revisit that post by clicking here. Ocean County is also helping to get food to senior citizens through the Ocean County Office of Senior Services. To volunteer or to help put seniors in need in contact with them, please click here.
Supporting our Local Economy
Our Point Pleasant Borough Chamber of Commerce has been doing an excellent job promoting local businesses that are still able to remain open. I previously posted an update regarding this with links to help support those businesses. I ask you to revisit that post by clicking here.
COVID-19 Related Scams
Unfortunately, even during a time of crisis there will be those that prey on the unsuspecting and vulnerable members of our society. It is important to remain vigilant and be able to recognize when someone is taking advantage of you. With stimulus and government assistance scams occurring as stimulus funds are starting to arrive via checks and direct deposits, remember that the government will not ask you to pay anything up front. Anyone who calls and asks for you social security number, bank account or credit card information is a scammer. Grandparent and sick family member scams are also on the rise taking advantage of this pandemic. The numbers and emails from your relatives and friends most likely are not genuine, if you get a call like this, reach out to your family member or friend directly. Also, be on the lookout for phony charities and crowdfunding. We are ‘Jersey Strong’ and we come together in times of need, scammers know this too. Be sure to research where a charitable donation is going and who is doing the fundraising. There are also fake mandatory COVID-19 test scams from people posing as government and health officials looking to get your personal, financial and medical information.
The NJ Attorney General and U.S. Attorney announced the creation of a State of New Jersey and Federal joint task force to investigate and prosecute those who are exploiting this pandemic. If you believe you are being victimized or know of someone who is, you can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at 866-720-5721.
Municipal Operations in Point Pleasant
Even though Borough Hall is closed to the public, we are still performing essential functions to keep our community operational. All essential functions can still be accomplished either by mail, email or going onto our website. I encourage you to check our website often for changes to any services and to revisit past notices. Public Works services also continue and garbage, recycling and leaf collection schedules are on time. Additionally, hydrant flushing is currently taking place as well. For those that do not know, hydrant flushing is more than just ‘hydrant flushing.’ This necessary function ensures that adequate water flow is available to fire fighters, residents and businesses alike. This action also flushes out our water mains thus maintaining the health of our potable water supply. If we do not do this as scheduled yearly, the potential for negative side effects to our potable water supply becomes greater.
While the Governor has closed all State and County Parks until further notice in Executive Order #108, our municipal open space fields still remain open for passive recreation only but group gatherings are strictly prohibited. It is my hope that we won’t be forced to close our open fields as we feel it is important for residents to be able to go outside and remain active in a responsible manner. As long as we all cooperate and practice social distancing, I am optimistic we will not have to take further action. Our boardwalk at Riverfront Park along with our small beaches due to their confined spaces, playgrounds, skate park, basketball and tennis courts all still remain closed. There is signage posted at all of our sites stating COVID-19 precautions and our Police Department has increased their patrols.
As a reminder, the Borough Council and I also prohibited all Air B&B, Vacation Rentals by Owner and all short-term rentals until further notice along with suspending all door to door solicitors permits.
Through our Recreation Department, we have employees calling Senior Citizens that would normally participate in our Senior Beehive programs. These calls are made weekly to those we have listed as isolated or vulnerable. We reach out, say hello and let them know they are not alone during these difficult times. Our Police Department also operates Operation Reassurance year-round where they will check on senior citizens and those living alone under special circumstances regularly. To sign up for Operation Reassurance, you can visit the Police Department’s Page on our Borough website.
For up-to-date emergency information, I ask that you follow the Borough of Point Pleasant’s Office of Emergency Management Facebook Page and The Borough of Point Pleasant’s Police Department Facebook Page. You can also sign up for free NIXLE text message alerts by clicking the link on our Borough website’s home page.
The Borough Council and I would like to again thank our employees for their dedication and hard work in these trying times. Our staff at Borough Hall and Public Works have truly shown what it means to be public servants. We would also like to thank our emergency personnel as well. Our Police, Fire and First Aid Departments have been working harder than ever and we cannot thank them enough for putting themselves on the front lines of this pandemic. On behalf of all of our residents, we put up a banner in the center of town thanking them and essential employees everywhere.
In closing, The Borough Council and I would like to once again thank our community for your patience and understanding during these trying times. I constantly say there is no better place to be than The Boro and the way we have all pulled together recently proves that. From your charitable acts towards one another, to supporting your local businesses and for adhering to smart social distancing and hygiene practices we have shown what being a community is all about.
Mayor Robert A. Sabosik