Novel Corona Virus Update March 16, 2020; Governor Signs Emergency Executive Order to Implement Aggressive Social Distancing Measures
The risk of contracting COVID19 for New Jersey residents is increasing so that social distancing is becoming even more important. Schools and government offices are closing, events are being cancelled, and non-essential businesses and travel are ordered to close.
Good handwashing and respiratory precautions, including antiviral cleaning of surfaces, remain essesntial, as well as the practice of good respiratory etiquette, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve; washing your hands after you cough or sneeze; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and critically, staying home when sick.
Governor Murphy Announces Aggressive Social Distancing Measures to Mitigate Further Spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey (Monday, 3/16/20)
Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 104, implementing aggressive social distancing measures to mitigate further spread of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Among the directives, Governor Murphy’s Executive Order indefinitely closes all public and private preschool, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education, as well as closes all casinos, racetracks, gyms, movie theaters, and performing arts centers. The order also mandates that all non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must cease daily operations from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. All restaurant establishments, with or without a liquor license, are limited to offering only delivery and/or take out-services only, both during daytime hours and after 8 pm.
“In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must take aggressive and direct social distancing action to curtail non-essential activities in the state,” said Governor Murphy. “Our paramount priority is to ‘flatten the curve’ of new cases, so we do not overwhelm our health care system and overload our health care professionals who are on the frontlines of the response. My Administration continues to work closely with our communities, stakeholders, union representatives, and business leaders to ensure that we all do our part to win the fight against the novel coronavirus and emerge stronger than ever.”
In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Murphy’s executive order directs:
- All gatherings of persons in the State of New Jersey shall be limited to 50 persons or fewer, with limited exceptions;
- All public, private, and parochial preschool programs, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, will be closed beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and remain closed as long as the Order remains in effect;
- Institutions of higher education will cease all in-person instruction beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and shall cease such in-person instruction as long as the Order remains in effect;
- The Commissioner of Education shall continue working with each public, private, and parochial school to ensure students are able to continue their education through appropriate home instruction
- The Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioner of Education shall take all necessary actions to ensure all students eligible for free or reduced meals will continue to receive the services necessary to meet nutritional needs during closures;
- All casinos, concert venues, nightclubs, racetracks, gyms, fitness centers and classes, movie theaters, and performing arts centers will be closed to the public beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. and remain closed as long as this Order remains in effect;
- All other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must cease daily operations from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.; and
- All restaurant establishments, with or without a liquor or limited brewery license, are limited to offering delivery and/or take out-services only.
The order will take effect immediately.
"These are extraordinary times, and educators throughout the state have been taking extraordinary measures to create plans for high-quality home instruction, ensure food security for children who depend on free and reduced lunch, and provide services for all special needs students,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “We understand that the closure can be a disruption for many parents, but we know nothing is more important than the safety of the 1.4 children we serve.”
“We understand this is an unprecedented situation, and we are asking institutions to be extra vigilant in protecting the health and safety of their students, faculty, staff and the entire campus community. As institutions move to remote instruction, we urge them to ensure there are appropriate accommodations in place for students with disabilities, those who may not have access to internet services, and students who call their campus community home,” said Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education. “We continue collaborating with institutions to address concerns.”
New CDC Mitigation Guidelines for Community Groups (added 3/13)
New Safety Issue (added 3/11): There have been social media posts regarding individuals going door-to-door, claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control. The CDS is not deploying any such surveillance, and residents are warned not to let any such inspectors into their homes or speak to anyone claiming to be from the CDC. Please contact local police immediately if you suspect these or any other imposters who are seeking such access.
Mayor Barry Conaway’s Message to Residents
The City of Burlington Administration and Office of Emergency Management are tracking COVID-19 developments closely and will post CDC and NJ Dept. of Health information daily if there are new developments. We are continually updating plans for preparation and responses as situations evolve.
In case the Corona Virus does spread, here are some things that we can be doing before a pandemic begins:
• Stocking up on a two-week supply of food and water
• Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home
• Have non-prescription drugs and other health supplies on hand including pain relievers/fever reducing medications, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins, tissues.
• Stock up on household supplies such as toilet paper, hand soap, paper towels, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, etc.
• Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals pharmacies and other sources and store them for personal reference.
• Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what would be needed for them in your home.
• Have pet foods and supplies.
• Stock up on baby care items
• Plan for extended school and day care closures
• Talk to your employer about telecommuting opportunities in the event that movement of people is restricted
• Plan for a sick room in the home. Designate one room that would work best, usually a bedroom with its own bathroom that no one else will use. If someone in the home becomes ill, keep them in the sick room away from others.Discuss Your Emergency Plans and Be Prepared
In addition to keeping informed through the expert resources below, as is always the case, residents should discuss your emergency preparation plans with family before an incident occurs. The NJ Office of Emergency Management offers a tool kit on basic preparedness for medical emergencies on https://www.nj.gov/njoem/plan-prepare/pandemic-influenza.shtml
Many people ask about masks and are stockpiling masks. The CDC does not recommend masks for the general public. Instead supplies should be preserved for healthcare workers and first responders who are caring for sick individuals. Surgical masks are recommended, however, if you are sick or caring for someone who is sick.
One of the most important things residents can do to protect themselves against all risks is to keep up to date on information.
Twenty-four Hour Phone Hotline
If any non-clinical person has questions, a multi-language 24/7 public call center has been opened at the NJ Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) and can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.
On-Line Information Resources for Residents and Businesses
The two best places for information are:
The New Jersey Department of Health website:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:
Specifically, they have guidance