LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Mayor James Damiano declared a state of emergency at the April 13 Township Council Workshop meeting, held electronically in adherence to COVID-19 distance measures. He said his declaration was retroactive to March 14, the date of the first official declaration made by Gov. Phil Murphy for the war against the virus in New Jersey. 

Damiano emphasized that the declaration would ensure that if any funding would become available for the municipality, under federal programs such as FEMA, or any state reimbursements, the municipality would be able to collect and receive the maximum amount of funding from federal and state governments. It would also ensure any expenses would be covered, such as personal protective equipment and "any expenditures outside the norm."

"We want  to ensure that the municipality is able to collect and receive the maximum amount of funding in our fight against this virus," he explained.

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Damiano reassured that there was no reason for any additional alarm aside from the ongoing concern of the current heath crisis.

"The alarm has already been rung for the health crisis, as most people are very familiar with now," added.  "However, it was done with the intention of ensuring that when any funding may become available, it can be recaptured by the municipality."

Damiano also gave a brief update of the total confirmed cases reported, now at 66 as of April 12, with one confirmed death, Mike Burke, 64.

"The resident was a loved and well known first responder here in town," he said. "I ask that his family be kept in your thoughts and prayers."

Damiano explained the varying reported numbers with county and state postings compared to the municipality's reporting of numbers. The number of cases received by the Township comes from the Clifton Health Department, which is the contractual health department for the Township.

  "They (Clifton Health Department) have been doing an outstanding job in their follow-up for all of the cases that we've had here," Damiano said.. He added that some numbers reported elsewhere have not had the same level of follow-up that the Township has had with the Clifton Health Department  in those originally reported numbers. Even though the numbers appearing on some county and state websites appear to be a positive, after follow-up by the Clifton Health Department, those individual do not reside in town anymore.

"The most accurate figures I believe are from the Clifton Health Department and  I thank them them for the amount they're doing in such a short period of time with such a limited staff," he noted.

Damiano also urged residents who have been tested positive but who have not been reflected yet in the reported numbers in the state, county or local health department figures, to reach out to the Clifton Health Department in order to help first responders better contain the virus.

"They are taking the maximum precaution at every single call that they are responding to now, but it just gives them one additional peace of mind to know in responding to a resident at their home address in the event of a call of distress or for additional help," he said. "So please contact the Clifton Health Department if you have tested positive but have not yet received a call from them."