OCEAN COUNTY – In a move that is going to become the new normal for the next few weeks, people are required to stay in their homes except for emergencies until April 7.
This executive order comes from Gov. Phil Murphy and follows in line with what some other states are doing.
Across the state, there have been 1,327 positive cases. There are 98 in Ocean County as of press time. This, of course, only counts the number of people who have actually been tested. There are many more with COVID-19 symptoms who have not been tested. There have been 16 deaths attributed to the virus statewide.
The order directs people to stay at home until further notice, but there are exceptions.
For example, the executive order won’t stop you from visiting family or close friends. However, social distancing might stop you from making those visits. This means that it’s a good idea not to visit people because you or the person you’re visiting could have the disease but are not showing symptoms yet. And if you do see other people, you are instructed to stay six feet apart to slow the spread of the disease.
The order cancels all parties and social events.
This doesn’t prevent you from exercising, but you’d have to do it on your own. Gyms are closed, as are many parks.
The order also doesn’t prevent you from getting essential goods or services, or going to work if your job is still open.
Here are the businesses that are still open:
- 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
- Take-out portions of restaurants
- 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
“From day one, we’ve made a commitment to be guided by the facts and take any action necessary to protect the health and safety of New Jersey’s nine million residents,” said Governor Murphy. “We know the virus spreads through person-to-person contact, and the best way to prevent further exposure is to limit our public interactions to only the most essential purposes. This is a time for us all to come together in one mission to ‘flatten the curve’ and slow – and eventually halt – the spread of coronavirus.”
All jobs, if possible, must allow for work-from-home arrangements. If this isn’t possible, the business should reduce staff on site to a skeleton crew to prevent people from getting each other sick.
Examples of employees who need to be present at their work site in order to perform their job duties include, but are not limited to, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, IT maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.
The Ocean County Health Department and local schools have been putting out messages to residents and parents about what to do and what not to do. Most of the bullet points are the same. They are summed up here:
- Wash hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, not your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Keep your children home when they are sick. Children should not return to school unless they have been fever-free without medication for 24 hours.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Avoid people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect regularly.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Encourage a “do not share” rule: food, drink, lip balm, pencils, etc.
- Have a 30-day supply of non-perishables, medicine, and medical needs like oxygen.
- Call a doctor if you feel like you’re developing symptoms.
- Stay in touch with family and loved ones
Information On COVID-19
Residents wanting to get up-to-date information should visit covid19.nj.gov, which was set up by the state to keep residents abreast of the latest developments. You can also learn about food assistance and small business assistance through this site.
Additionally, you can learn about employment benefits, education resources, and also has a way for the public to submit questions.
There is also a symptom checker on the site, so people can tell if they have the disease.
COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease, and 19 stands for 2019, the year it was diagnosed.
Health officials have been using the term “flattening the curve.” This means trying to prevent the build-up of cases to the point where hospitals won’t be able to handle them all. Getting a few new cases in a given area every day is more manageable.
The difference between a “presumptive case” and an official case is designated by the Centers for Disease Control. Basically, someone can test positive for the disease locally, but will only be considered a “presumptive” case until the CDC tests them.
For more information and statistics pertaining to COVID-19, visit ochd.org. The OCHD is providing COVID Information Call Line for residents and clinicians to answer questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.
The Health Department will be giving daily case counts at OCHD.org, where updated statistics on the spread of the virus can be found.
You can also call the NJDOH hotline available around the clock for questions at 1-800-222-1222.
Additional information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019ncov/summary.html or the New Jersey Department of Health website at
Hospital Visitation Restricted
Citing the health of patients, their families, and hospital staff, restrictions were announced at all Hackensack Meridian Health locations. This includes Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, K. Hovnanian’s Children Hospital, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford.
Exceptions will be made in certain situations, including hospice, pediatric care, ambulatory care/same day surgery (one visitor), and maternity/labor and delivery (one visitor).
If a visitor is approved, they will undergo a temperature screening, and will have to provide their contact information.
Similarly, all hospital staff are being asked to take their temperature before they come in to work.
These restrictions will be reviewed in 30 days to see if they should be removed.