FLORHAM PARK, NJ - Chief of Police Orlando has issued the following update.  Included within it is the closing of local parks and a warning against birthday parades.  See below:

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Residents,

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Much has happened since I last wrote to all of you. Please read this post carefully as there is important information contained within. I must preface by stating there is information contained within this post that will be upsetting to and anger some residents; I ask that you read the post in its entirety.

On March 9, 2020, when Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 103 declaring a Public Health Emergency and a State of Emergency, there were 11 presumptive test positive COVID-19 cases in New Jersey. Today, as I type this post there are 47,437 positive cases and 1,504 reported deaths in the State of New Jersey. Morris County has the 9th most positive cases of the 21 Counties in the State and Florham Park has the 13th most positive cases of the 39 municipalities within the County. I provide these numbers to express to you this is a serious public health crisis that is affecting Florham Park residents, to a larger degree than some in the community believe and certainly to a greater extent than some are taking seriously. The County is reporting that Community Spread is High. As of this date, the projected number of hospital beds needed in the State of New Jersey is 12,554 with only 7,815 available. The number of projected ICU beds needed in New Jersey is 2,274 with only 465 available. Please take a moment to absorb those numbers before continuing to read and keep in mind our laboratory reporting is two weeks behind and the projected peak in New Jersey is anywhere from two to four weeks away.

Yesterday Governor Murphy issued four (4) new Executive Orders detailed briefly below:

Executive Order 116 – Extends the deadlines for school board budget adoption and approval, as well as elections for school boards whose elections were scheduled for April of 2020.

Executive Order 117 – Waived all statutorily required student assessment testing for the 2019/2020 school year for all 8th grade students and the statutorily mandated graduation assessment for high school seniors.

Executive Order 118 – Closing of all State and County Parks.

Executive Order 119 – Extends the Public Health Crisis, which was set to expire tomorrow, an additional 30 days. The Stay-At-Home order is indefinite at this time.

When the Governor issued Executive Order 108 there was an exception included in the same that allowed municipalities to further restrict access to municipal parks. The Governor issued Executive Order 118 yesterday due in large part to the lack of adherence to social distancing within those areas. We have been witnessing much of the same here in Florham Park. Despite our previous attempts at restricting activity in these areas congregation continues, as a result I have discussed with the Mayor and Council closing all municipal parks and facilities within Florham Park and to enforce violations of the same under the authority granted to me in Borough Ordinance 171-35 which reads as follows;

“No person shall enter a Borough park facility, lands or portions thereof that have been designated or posted as "Closed," "Park Closed," "No Trespassing," "Restricted Area," "Keep Out" or any other verbal or posted warning or physical barrier.”

Therefore, as of today, April 8, 2020 at 7:00 PM, all Municipal Parks, Playgrounds, Parking Lots and Municipally owned Open Public Space, Schoolyards, Walking Trails and Bike Paths are closed to the public until further notice.

I, along with several other Chiefs of Police within the State, have been advising against birthday parades within the community as they lead to social gatherings at the beginning and end of the same. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, has stated portions of the parades violate the Governor’s Executive Orders and those violations can be enforced believing that deterrence is clearly outweighing education at this point.

I have instructed my officers to begin enforcing the portions of parades that violate the Governor’s Orders in an effort to stop the community spread of this virus and I again implore all residents to refrain from coordinating/participating in these events.

Lastly, the State has determined religious congregation, regardless of denomination, is a violation of the Governor’s Executive Orders. This includes parking lot masses, drive by communion, even communion by appointment. Several Holy days are approaching among several religious denominations. Please keep in mind the Governor’s Executive Orders when deciding upon how to celebrate your respective faiths.

I understand some of what I have stated in this post will not sit well with some in the community. My responsibility is not to endear myself to all members, as I have made significant efforts to do since being sworn in as Chief of Police, rather my oath, which I swore to uphold, requires that I do everything in my power to protect every member of this community. My actions since this Public Health Emergency was declared have been to minimize the impact of the same upon all of you while maintaining the safest environment possible for the community. The evolution of this crisis and the drastic increase in test positive cases/deaths, which has impacted Florham Park, due to community spread has dictated I take these actions for the benefit of all members within the community.

Wishing safety and wellness to you and your loved ones!!

Chief Joseph Orlando