FLEMINGTON, NJ - Hunterdon County declared a state of emergency Monday evening, with county government remaining open, but some activities suspended.
Freeholder board director Shaun C. Van Doren signed a declaration of a state of emergency, according to a release, to protect the health and welfare of residents during the national public health emergency.
The declaration enables the county's office of emergency management to request assistance from the State of New Jersey and the federal government, with the concurrence of
the Hunterdon County Health Officer, including material resources from the Strategic National Stockpile, like personal protective equipment to support the Hunterdon Medical Center, other health care facilities, other health care workers and first responders in the county, while also granting authority for the activation of local emergency operations plans and providing the Hunterdon County OEM coordinator with the authority to direct resources.
"Officials within the county have been hard at work addressing the public health emergency posed by coronavirus/COVID-19," Van Doren said in the release. "The Hunterdon County Health Department and Office of Emergency Management have been working around the clock to plan and respond to the constantly evolving challenges posed by coronavirus."
Van Doren said in the release that the county has implemented more aggressive and frequent cleaning of facilities for the protection of the public and staff members. The county, he said, is also attempting to limit large public gatherings.
"Hunterdon County's government remains operational, however additional and more aggressive steps are required to combat the spread of coronavirus/COVID-19," he said in the release. "The decision to take these actions is not taken lightly, but is absolutely necessary to ensure the ongoing continuity of county government operations."
A number of measures are being taken through the declaration:
- The county's electronics waste cleanup scheduled for March 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. will still be held. To assure social distancing and ensure the safety of residents and personnel, those participating must remain in their vehicles when dropping off materials.
- The county health department will continue to provide essential services to residents and businesses, but is encouraging the electronic transfer of documents and conducting business by phone when possible. There will be a drop-off process outside the health department's office.
- Public access to the county senior center is suspended through April 6. All senior activities, including congregate meals, are suspended. The Meals on Wheels program will continue with a program designed to eliminate personal interaction. Seniors with questions can contact the senior program by calling 908-788-1361 during regular business hours, or by emailing email@example.com.
- The Hunterdon County Library System will close March 17 at 5 p.m., until at least April 1. Late fines will not be charged for any materials. The library is offering remote, digital and online resources. Visit hclibrary.us, or call 908-788-1434.
- The board of elections office will be closed, but staff will continue to administer election procedures.
- The HackHunterdon Monthly Tech Meetup originally scheduled for March 26 has been canceled.
- Parks & Recreation is temporarily suspending programs and closing visitor centers to the public, but parks trails will remain open. Staff will be issuing refunds to those affected, and will be available via email and telephone for public inquiries and reservations.
- County clerk Mary Melfi has canceled the Searching the Search Room event that was scheduled for March 21.
- The Department of Human Services has announced that county residents who wish to apply for SNAP food assistance, or cash assistance under the Work First New Jersey program, can do so online at NJHelps.org.
- The Greater Raritan One-Stop Career Training Service Centers in Flemington and Somerville are closed to in-person visits. Staff will assist customers over the phone and via email. Call 908-541-5780 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
“Like many employers throughout the State of New Jersey, the county is also dealing with staffing challenges posed from the closure of public schools," Van Doren said in the release. "Please know that the actions laid out will be reevaluated on an ongoing basis in consultation with the officials from the Department of Health and in accordance with CDC guidelines. As conditions on the ground change and the risk of coronavirus subsides, the county will aim to scale back these policies. We must remember that as Americans we are in this fight together and by taking these measures now; we will help to mitigate against additional exposures and serious health outcomes.”