BARNEGAT/WARETOWN, NJ – During this month’s Ocean Township Committee meeting, Mayor Ken Baulderstone reported on the impact of COVID-19 within the local community. He also offered some reminders concerning the use of face coverings to contain the spread of the potentially dangerous virus.

“I have seen that there are still many residents not wearing face coverings, possibly under the misunderstanding that they’re not needed outside.” shared Baulderstone. “That’s somewhat contrary to the information given to us by the governor and the Commissioner of Health.”

Baulderstone suggested that as the state continues to reopen, residents need to remember that face masks and social distancing are important. “The virus hasn’t gone away,” he reminded.

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“As a committee, we cannot tell you to wear a mask outside,” added Committeeman Dr. Ben LoParo. “The governor has said the same thing. It is your option. We just ask that you maintain social distancing”

LoParo agreed that wearing a mask in the Waretown Shop Rite or other stores is another thing entirely. Private businesses may require face coverings for patrons entering their stores.

In Barnegat, Police Chief Keith Germain holds a weekly Facebook live update on how the pandemic impacts the local community.  He also responds to questions from residents. Yesterday, the issue of wearing face coverings came up as part of the chat.

When one of the locals said he had no intention of wearing a mask, Germain did not argue. He acknowledged the concept of face coverings was a recommendation and not a law.

“Our mask compliance has been really good in the places people are required to wear them in essential businesses,” Germain said. “We are going to continue to encourage people to wear masks when they are out in accordance with the recommendation that is out from the CDC.”

Germain pointed to a study that just came out from Hong Kong University that states, “transmission of COVID-19 was reduced by as much as 75 percent by wearing a mask.”

Today, Michele Morrison,  Chief Hospital Executive at Southern Ocean Medical Center was the featured speaker at the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Roundtable. Among other things, Morrison offered some insight on wearing masks. She first addressed situations where people work together indoors.

“Wearing a mask all day can be a bit uncomfortable,” acknowledged Morrison. “If there’s an opportunity for people to be separated, there’s no need for them to wear the masks, as long as everyone has hand sanitizer nearby.”

During Morrison’s presentation, she was in the same room as Jim Young, Executive Director of the Southern Ocean County Medical Center Foundation.  The two only removed their masks when they spoke and were careful not to face one another.

“If you’re in a room with other people or walking to the restroom,” Morrison continued. “I would certainly recommend wearing a mask at that time.”

Morrison also suggested that universal masking is extremely helpful when individuals are in public indoor space. So, what about when enjoying the outdoors?

“If you’re outside, there’s probably not a need, unless you’re within six feet of each other,” said Morrison. “That’s really what the CDC recommends.”

More information on today’s information from Southern Ocean County Medical Center to follow.