CAMDEN, NJ — Camden County and the City of Camden have both declared states of emergency Monday, following a third presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in the county.
“The declaration is being utilized to protect the public health and ensure personnel can be home to care for their families during this unprecedented time,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli.
The state health department’s dashboard has a tally of 178 cases nationwide as of Monday afternoon, and three in Camden County.
"This is the new norm for us until we get clearance from the state and the CDC," Mayor Frank Moran said in a press conference Monday at City Hall.
Moran said he will monitor the status of grocery stores, bodegas, pharmacies and medical offices in the area, but expects they will stay open.
"As you all know, not everybody in the city of Camden can get to a big box store to [get] grocery necessities...and we recognize that, so we will be monitoring them and working closely with them," he said.
The declaration means that at close Monday through March 31, all Camden County agencies will limit themselves to essential functions.
It also asks that all non-essential county personnel work from home and activates emergency measures throughout governmental operations.
What are considered essential employees — law enforcement, corrections, public safety — will report to work as usual.
“This was not an easy decision to reach, however, our priority is to make judicious decisions that will benefit us all, flatten the curve, and reduce the spread of this virus,” Cappelli said. “We will be constantly reevaluating our operations to ensure that we can provide these services while continuing to protect our employees and our residents.”
County officials said all evictions have been halted and the Camden County Parks Department has suspended all park permitting.
The following will also reduce staff to essential personnel: Camden County Pollution Control Financing Authority (PCFA), Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA), and Improvement Authority (CCIA).
All non-essential businesses in the area are asked to modify schedules or voluntarily close to follow the CDC’s social distancing recommendations.
“We acknowledge that this request is a tough pill to swallow, and we absolutely do not take that reality lightly, however sacrifices made today are necessary if we are to save lives tomorrow,” Cappelli added. “The science is clear – the more we restrict social interaction, the slower the spread of infection becomes, and the fewer lives ultimately lost. This has become a life or death situation and the time to act is now.”