NEW JERSEY – With 21 new presumptive positive cases, totaling to 50 confirmed cases and 80 cases under investigation, Governor Phil Murphy announced that public schools across New Jersey face the “inevitable” with extended closures as the coronavirus outbreak advances across the state.
In Ocean County, there is now one confirmed presumptive positive case, although officials did not specify which town was affected. Later in the day, the Ocean County Health Department confirmed the one case was a man in his 70s from Manchester who is now in the hospital.
“Long term school closures are inevitable,” Murphy said at a news conference providing the latest details on the coronavirus.
“We had been and are now actively working with districts on extended closure plans to prepare for potential statewide closures,” he said. “But we have to do it responsibly. We have to do it so that every kid and every family is taken care of so we don’t leave families behind.”
According to Department of Education Commissioner Lamont Repollet, out of more than 600 school districts, 354 districts have already made the decision to close in the state.
Murphy stated that at least 15 percent of the state’s 1.4 million students may not have the access to nutrition and free meals or internet access for online lessons.
“We’re working toward the inevitability that every district will be closed for a prolonged period of time. Each district and community has their own set of challenges and reality.,” said Murphy.
For Monmouth County, it was announced that all County buildings will be shut down and no public access will be allowed starting March 14.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and County officials are taking immediate action and caution on the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) by making this crucial decision to protect and keep residents safe
“Our number one priority is the safety of our residents and so, at this time, we have decided to take immediate actions to prevent the COVID-19 in Monmouth County libraries, parks and public buildings,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “In attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, Monmouth County will be suspending all public building access and programs beginning tomorrow.”
“We want to remind residents to remain calm and make sure you have the most accurate and up to date information, which you can get from the Centers of Disease Control or the New Jersey Department of Health. Please help us spread facts, not fear,” added Freeholder Director Arnone.
From March 14 through 22, all Monmouth County Library branches and the Monmouth County Park System buildings will be closed to the public. County golf courses and park spaces will remain open.
Starting March 16 all buildings with the exception of the Monmouth County Division of Social Services (MCDSS) will be closed to the public. There will be protections put into place to make certain that there is no physical contact between Monmouth County employees and the residents seeking services.
Monmouth County employees will report to work and residents will be able to contact them by phone or email.
“We understand that the COVID-19 situation is unsettling for some and want to arm our residents with the information they need,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley, liaison to the Monmouth County Department of Health and Human Services. “There is a Monmouth County Health Department’s phone bank will open Monday at 9 a.m. for residents who have any questions and concerns about COVID-19, or need to talk to someone about how this situation is affecting them.”
Any residents that may be experiencing stress or anxiety due to the situation can contact the Crisis Counselors from the Monmouth County Division of Behavioral Health through the phone banks
The Monmouth County Health Department phone bank will open March 16 at 9 a.m. and can be reached at 732-845-2070.