UNION, NJ – A town hall-style Facebook Live presentation with Union Mayor Michele Delisfort, State Senator Joseph Cryan, and Union’s Health Director Marconi Gapas to discuss and answer questions about the COVID-19 crisis took place Friday afternoon.
In her opening remarks, Delisfort announced the latest coronavirus counts as 43 new cases of the 890 in New Jersey; nine new cases in Union County out of 42; with 15 confirmed cases in Union.
Delisfort said the township has been making telephone calls to seniors on a daily basis. She said township officials have made over 1,800 calls to seniors this week to ensure they have food and care. “If you know of a senior in need, call the township,” said Delisfort. She added that New Jersey Transit has switched to a weekend schedule; but, bus schedules remain unchanged.
Regarding data for COVID-19, Gapas said health care providers are required to enter case information for anyone testing positive for the coronavirus into a secure database managed by the State Department of Health, Communicable Disease Services. He said certain staff at the Union Health Department have special authorization to access those records and to monitor those cases in Union.
“When we have a positive case, there is follow-up required to ensure they self-quarantine,” said Gapas. He said the Health Department ensure they have a list of the close contacts and additional details of the coronavirus cases, such as where the individual works and general circumstances under which the individual got ill. Gapas said Union has 15 positive cases, “most of which came to us in the last couple of days”.
“We’ve already started making contact with those individuals to do interviews,” Gapas added. In response to a question about whether a school would be notified if someone from a school tested positive, Gapas said, “when we do our investigations, we do communicate with different schools.” But, he added, due to privacy, parents and students would not be notified.
Cryan said live assistance regarding COVID-19 information is available by dialing 2-1-1 or texting NJCOVID to 898 211 for general information and resources for basic needs. “You will see over the next 24 to 48 hours Governor Murphy continue to implement more measures to restrict social interaction and social distancing,” added Cryan.
Cryan said the federal government has extended the tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. He said the state legislature just passed a number of bills that are “hopefully reflective of things that are on people’s minds and what we can do to help.” Cryan said legislation was passed that provides an additional $50 million for food banks, an additional $10 million for workplace benefits and increased benefits, and $20 million for expansion of an unemployment fund, and increased paid leave opportunities.
Cryan said he anticipates the governor will announce an online assessment, created through the Department of Health, where residents can assess their own health condition. “Taking an online assessment is critically important,” said Cryan. He added that sometime next week a drive-through testing site will become available in Union County, probably in Union. Residents will need to have a doctor’s prescription. “We are looking at creative measures to reduce the demand in emergency rooms,” Cryan said, “and looking to mobilize in ways so we can respond to the public crisis.”
“It’s been a really, really long week,” said Delisfort, “and I know a lot of people must be frustrated with all the news of the coronavirus. So I ask that you make sure to keep yourself, your family and your friends safe. Check up on one another.”
In response to a question about protecting first responders, Delisfort said Union’s emergency responders are properly equipped. “They have standard protocols when it comes to training to protect themselves, and we expect absolutely no lapse in coverage or treatment.”
Cryan said Gov. Murphy, along with governors from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware, have asked the federal government for $10 billion. Delisfort added there will be opportunities for small business owners to request a loan through the Economic Industry Disaster loan.
A Facebook live meeting with township officials is scheduled every Friday at 3:00 p.m. Delisfort urged all residents to sign up for CodeRed for emergency notifications. Residents can call 908-851-5000 to sign up. Cryan said concerns may also be directed to District 20 legislative offices at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the interest of transparency, TAPinto Union's publisher, Kathy Cryan, is married to State Senator Joseph Cryan.