MONTVILLE, NJ – The global corona virus situation is “rapidly evolving and expanding” according to the Centers for Disease Control, and “cases of COVID-19 are appearing without a known source of exposure.”

The U.S. has been implementing an aggressive containment strategy, according to Nancy Messonnier, MD, the Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We’ve restricted travel into the United States while also issuing extensive travel advisories for countries currently experiencing community spread. Our travel notices are changing almost daily. We’ve also enacted the first quarantine of this scale in the U.S. We are doing this with the goal of slowing the introduction of this new virus into the U.S. and buying us more time to prepare. To date, our containment strategies have been largely successful, and as a result, we have very few cases in the United States.”

However, Messonnier warned that the spread of the illness is a matter of when, not if.  No vaccines and no medications have been approved to treat it, she said.

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The CDC is recommending instead “non-pharmaceutical interventions” based on their research, in order to contain and mitigate the spread and reduce its impact. At the personal level, the CDC recommends hand-washing. Consistently cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects at home, at school, at work and at large gatherings is also recommended.

Should the virus spread, closing schools and using internet-based teleschooling for students, and teleworking for adults could become necessary. Communities may need to postpone or cancel mass gatherings, she said. Delaying elective surgery and increasing “telehealth” services may be necessary for those in need of care. As a result, Messonnier recommended having a plan in place.

“These are things that people need to start thinking about now,” Messonnier said. “I had a conversation with my family over breakfast this morning and I told my children that while I didn’t think that they were at risk right now, we as a family need to be preparing for significant disruption of our lives.” 

NBC news is advising viewers to purchase two weeks’ worth of canned and shelf-stable food and bottled water, cough/cold and fever medications, and electrolyte solutions. Make sure you have enough prescription medicine to last for a month, plus soap, detergent and baby products for a month, in case there’s any interruption in the supply chain. Those who ride public transit are advised to carry alcohol wipes or use hand sanitizer often. Masks are not needed, the report said.

“If you develop a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath, see your doctor right away,” the report advised.

Here in Montville, an email to parents from Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar stated that the district is guided by direction provided by the CDC, the New Jersey Department of Health and the Montville Township Board of Health. The Montville Township Board of Education has a policy in place on the Control of Communicable Disease, she wrote. However, Rovtar stated, teleschooling would not be possible if schools had to be shut down, because “at the present time the New Jersey Department of Education does not permit virtual learning outside of the school setting to count towards the minimum 180 school day requirement in New Jersey statutes.”

The township has an Office of Emergency Management composed of Township Administrator Victor Canning, Police Chief Andrew Caggiano and Captain Mark Olsson. The office maintains an emergency operating plan for the township that guides the response for handling disasters in the township. The township has ample communication modes in place for letting residents know if plans need to change due to quarantines or simply stemming the spread of the virus, Assistant Township Administrator June Hercek told TAPinto Montville.

“Should such closures or cancellations be required, the public would be notified via the following: the township website, news media outlets, the township and Public Safety Building electronic boards, Nixle, the township’s social media outlets, and posting on on-site,” she said.

Nixle is a reverse 9-1-1-type alert systems that texts residents of important township news. Sign up at  https://local.nixle.com/zipcode/07045/.

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