SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Village President Sheena Collum has sent out the following message. It contains an update on COVID-19 positive test cases in South Orange, where the number has risen to 24. She also included information about what is open and closed in the Village, the Zoom small business meeting the Village hosted this morning, and the U.S. Census:
As of noon today, our community has 24 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. To put this into perspective, 49 residents have been able to get access to the limited testing available (i.e., they’ve exhibited the required fever and respiratory symptoms) and of that number, 24 have returned positive and 25 have returned negative. In our sister town of Maplewood, Mayor Frank McGehee has reported 53 positive test cases, including the tragic loss of a 44-year old resident to COVID-19.
I, along with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, continue to urge you to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary travel and interactions to the greatest extent possible. If you are a parent or guardian, please keep your children safe at home as well.
You have likely heard me and other government leaders reiterate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that we need to keep at least six feet of distance from others. I’m sorry if this has caused some confusion. Maintaining six feet of distance is for when you must absolutely go out (i.e. picking up your groceries, stopping by the pharmacy) and trips where it’s likely you will encounter individuals outside of your immediate family. Some have taken that to mean that hosting/attending small gatherings with friends or neighbors is okay if there is six feet of distance. I’ve seen pictures on social media of neighbors coming up with creative ways to still be social and gather while maintaining six feet. While I understand, particularly as we all desire connection right now, experts are beginning to indicate that even these activities are not acceptable or in the spirit of the six-foot rule.
Please take a moment to consider the following article from NJ.com: “Sorry, hanging out while 6 feet apart isn’t coronavirus social distancing,” expert says.
In short: Stay at home. For most of us, that is the single biggest contribution we can make in the fight against this deadly virus. While our healthcare workers and employees who have been deemed essential are on the front lines of serving the public and are putting their own health at risk, we have one job – stay at home.
When we declared a State of Emergency on March 13, I advised the community that we would be reevaluating conditions at the end of the month. Our Emergency Declaration is being extended to Thursday, April 30, at which point we will again assess where we are. As Dr. Fauci so eloquently stated, “The virus makes the timeline.”
South Orange News and Updates
Our brick and mortar offices remain closed to the public, but we are operating remotely to the greatest extent possible. Like many towns across the country, we’ve taken advantage of the technology available to us to ensure the continuity of services to our residents. Below are friendly reminders and some new information.
- Continues to provide vital records (marriage licenses and death certificates).
- Rental registrations are still being accepted.
- Open Public Records requests are still being processed.
Department of Public Works:
- Spring Clean-Up begins today! Click here for more information.
- Container Day has been cancelled for April.
- The Recycling Center is closed until further notice.
- Trash and recycling pickup will maintain their regular schedule.
- Toters for recycling are being expedited upon payment.
- Playgrounds, tennis courts, and basketball courts remain closed.
- Parks are open for passive and no-contact recreation such as walking or jogging, doing some exercise by yourself or with your family. (Note that our police department is regularly monitoring our parks and any appearance of a gathering will be dispersed.)
- Recreation badges are available through online purchase. The deadline for early bird pricing has been extended to May 15.
- All other programming has been postponed.
- The pool opening has been delayed to June 20. (We will reassess this date as needed.)
Payments and Taxes:
- Sewer payment has been extended to May 1.
- Property taxes are still due May 1, as any extensions would need to be given by the State of New Jersey.
Building and Code Enforcement:
- Permits can still be submitted through regular mail or the Village Drop Box located outside the Village offices: 76 South Orange Avenue, Suite 302.
- Certificates of Continued Occupancy and Certificates of Habitability are available through an affidavit located online on the Building Department website.
- Inspections are limited until May 1.
Please do not hesitate to contact our offices at (973) 378-7715 if you have any questions.
South Orange COVID-18 Information Portal
Please continue to visit our South Orange COVID-19 Info Portal (thanks to our friends at 4elbows), where we are providing a central hub of information for our residents that features information about local government services, frequently-asked questions, a directory of local businesses that are open, opportunities for the public to donate or get involved, and additional resources that may help the community navigate this very difficult time.
- Keep your money local. Our small business community is struggling right now, and they need our help and commitment to shop local. Our Business Directory features Take Out & Delivery, Available Shopping, and Wellness and Services. Help spread the word using #SOMAOpenforBiz
- Get Involved. Give Back. Our South Orange Community Support Page highlights a variety of ways you can safely get involved to help our efforts to support those who are struggling, as well as many on the front lines in healthcare and essential services.
South Orange Small Business Virtual Meeting
Earlier today, we co-hosted a meeting (via Zoom) with our business community in partnership with the South Orange Village Center Alliance to discuss resources, grants, and loans available as a part of federal and state COVID-19 relief packages. A recording of the meeting, which had more than 100 participants, will be available on the Business Resources section of our website here, where you can also find a variety of other helpful information.
Last but not least, today is Census Day!
Wherever you are living on April 1, 2020, is where you need to be counted by the U.S. 2020 Census. If you haven’t already responded, take a few minutes now to do your part and make sure South Orange receives its share of federal funding and adequate representation in the U.S. Congress. For more information, check out https://2020census.gov.
Here’s how we’re doing:
- New Jersey: 39.1%
- Essex County: 32.8%
- South Orange: 49.6%
- Maplewood: 48.5%
Maplewood officials are encouraging their residents to catch up to South Orange, so don’t let them take the lead. We’ve got this!
In solidarity and safety,
Sheena C. Collum
Read More: Maplewood Coronavirus Update
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