SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - At 9:15 pm on March 13, Village President Sheena C. Collum announced that as of 6 pm March 13 she officially declared a State of Emergency in the Village. The full notification follows below. The notification explains the reasons for declaring the state of emergency and how best to keep connected with the various departments and officials as needed. The statement further encourages all to be mindful of supporting the local businesses and restaurants. As further information develops, TAPinto SOMA will make it available.
From the Village of South Orange website: https://www.southorange.org/690/COVID-19
To the South Orange Community:
I need your help, patience and guidance as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 which was declared a pandemic earlier this week by the Word Health Organization (WHO).
While this is significant, we know of no South Orange residents with a confirmed case of this virus to date. Nonetheless, epidemiologists predict the virus will continue to spread, putting some of our most vulnerable neighbors at risk, which is why we must work together to take proactive precautionary measures to “flatten the curve.”
Graphic shows how the implementation of social distancing and other protective actions can slow the spread of a novel disease, like COVID-19, and ensure the demand on the medical system is balanced over time.
I’m sure many of you have seen the graphic from the Center for Disease Control and the message is very simple: we all need to make modifications to our daily routine, particularly utilizing “social distancing,” so we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system. While this will cause an inconvenience to many, I hope you will agree it is a necessary strategy to protects ourselves, our loved ones and our community.
As such, I have officially declared a State of Emergency effective March 13, 2020 at 6pm.
All municipal offices and facilities will be closed to the public until March 31 unless noted differently below. At this time, our staff will remain available through phone, email and our website SouthOrange.org. While we are limiting in-person interactions with staff, they are prepared and eager to continue serving residents in a safe way.
At this time, I’m asking community organizations to limit holding large gatherings and functions for the time being. All organizations and businesses in town are encouraged to be taking extra precautions. The EPA has released a list of Registered Antimicrobial Products for use against COVID-19.
- All Board of Trustee, Board of Adjustment, and Planning Board meetings can be viewed online. Residents who do not attend and are watching online can submit comments and questions for public comments by e-mailing:
Administration will still be available through phone and e-mail.
- The Tax Assessor will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. Any in-person consultations will need to wait until after March 31.
- Building Department/Code Enforcement will be accepting permits and applications via e-mail and the United State Postal Service. No inspections will be conducted for the remainder of March. Permits and payments can be dropped off in a secure location in Village Hall.
- Clerk’s Office encourages residents to utilize their online forms for most services. Appointments can be made for Marriage License Application (forms available online, but in-person application required), Vital Records Application (there is a procedure for applying via USPS), Raffle (Games of Chance) Application, and Liquor License Renewals and Transfers.
- Engineering/Zoning will be accepting permits and applications via e-mail and the United State Postal Service. No on-site consultations will be conducted until after March 31.
- The Department of Health and Animal Control will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. Any in-person consultations will need to wait until after March 31. Animal Control issues should be directed to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. Pet licenses can be sent in via the USPS.
- The South Orange Public Library will be closed until March 28, at which time the situation will be assessed.
- The South Orange Performing Arts Center has suspended performances until April 17 at which point a determination will be made whether additional rescheduling or cancellations will be necessary
- The Office of Emergency Management will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail.
- The Parking Authority will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. The department encourages residents to utilize their online services. There will be no disruption to Jitney Services or the Senior Bus at this time.
- The Department of Public Works will continue to provide its traditional street services. However, the recycling center will be closed until further notice. All communication with residents will be made through phone and e-mail.
- The Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs has postponed all programs, meeting and events such as: adult softball, youth baseball, tae kwon do, umpire trainings, coaching clinics, Rutgers coaching clinic, USSI tennis programming, adult soccer, Jaguar track registration, South Mountain Soccer, naturalization ceremony, spring break baseball camps, baseball parade, senior circle meetings, and a swim team meeting. Please reach out to the department for information on enrollment.
- The Tax Collector will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. The department encourages residents to pay tax and sewer bills online. There will also be a drop box located in 76 South Orange Avenue, Suite 302 for payments.
- Seton Hall University has recently suspended classes on a temporary basis.
- The South Orange-Maplewood School District has cancelled classes until March 27.
- The Parenting Center of the South Orange-Maplewood School District is organizing a list of community members to help food insecure students and their families. You can join their effort here.
Local Business Support:
Some things we can do to help our small business community at this time:
- Think local first – When planning your shopping and dining needs please remember to think locally and support our small businesses. The majority of your needs can be met through your local retailers, restaurants and services.
- Call and ask - Many local businesses are implementing new practices and procedures to keep their customers and staff safe and healthy. Don’t be afraid to call and ask businesses about what changes they have made. Some examples:
- Increased cleaning
- Cashless payment methods
- Curbside pickup and delivery
- Disposable plates and utensils
- Video platforms for class based instructional businesses
- Some restaurants are now offering take-out for the first time
- Follow SOVCA - on Facebook and IG for the latest updates. They’ll be working to keep you posted on business updates. @SoVillageCenter
- Buy Gift Cards - go to your favorite locally-owned small business and buy a gift card (or get it online if possible). Buy it directly from the business, so they get the use of your money for a month or two. Then when things have settled down, treat yourself and someone special to an evening out with your certificate!
- Utilize Local Online Shopping - Many local businesses have online shopping. Think about buying your purchases there instead of from large online portals.
- Other ideas – Think about your local services who might not be a priority right now. For example, dry cleaners are experiencing a downturn as everyone starts working from home. Perhaps you have some household items that could be dropped off.
- Spread the word – when talking with friends and neighbors please remind them to consider our local businesses. If you are part of a local support group, remind them to look local first.
- Reach out to the South Orange Village Center Alliance during this time with any questions or suggestions you might have. firstname.lastname@example.org | 973-763-6899
Back to The Basics:
We want to remind residents that the public risk of infection is currently low. There have only been four recorded cases in Essex County at this time. However, in order to keep the risk low, residents can do some easy, but important, things to help combat the spread of the disease:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Cough and squeeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces using a disinfecting spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer.
The virus can be caught by people of all ages, however, it is most prevalent in the older population and in people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick.
Citizens infected with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Residents who feel like they have these symptoms should make appointments with their healthcare providers.
Residents who feel ill are advised to stay home and avoid public areas and public transportation. While this may be inconvenient, self-quarantining can help save not just your life, but others that you interact with.
In closing, I’d like to thank all of our dedicated employees and the community at-large for your patience, understanding and commitment to each other during this time. It is not lost upon me how individuals are mobilizing to assist in a variety of ways (I see you SOMA Squad). It has been my experience that when challenging times arise, we see the best in our community.
South Orange Village President