On Monday, March 16, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. announced additional measures that Essex County is taking to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The steps being will limit interaction and promote social distancing.
“In order to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, we must do all we can to limit public interaction and promote social distancing. Limiting access to our public buildings and parks will go a long way in achieving this,” DiVincenzo said. “I want to thank our Constitutional Officers and Department Directors for their cooperation. I also want to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we move this uncharted territory,” he added.
The County Executive reminded residents that other ways to help prevent the spread of the virus is to avoid large groups of people, to wash hands frequently, to use hand sanitizer, cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough, and do not come to work if you do not feel well.
Announced today were the following initiatives:
- Essex County is allowing non-essential employees to work from home.
- All parks, playgrounds, dog parks, senior buildings and community center, and athletic fields are closed.
- The WAVE, Night Owl and Job Access Reverse Community transportation programs are being suspended.
- The Special Transportation System is giving priority rides to take residents to medical appointments, such as chemotherapy, radiation and dialysis.
- The Division of Family Assistance and Benefits is requesting that clients submit their applications on-line at NJHelps.org. Follow up interviews are being done by phone call. (To schedule a phone interview, call 973-395-8000.) Work First New Jersey cash assistance clients whose cases are scheduled to be reviewed in March or April will receive a 60-day extension.
- Visitation at the Juvenile Detention Center has been suspended.
- The Essex County Clerk’s Office has suspended all non-essential services, including the issuance of passports, IDs, notary publics and walk in services in its vaults.
- The Essex County Surrogate’s Office is suspending all of its outreach programs. In addition, access to the vault and micro-room is closed to the public and limited only to searchers. The public will have access to record search services by mail only. Finally, walk-in hours are being limited to 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. All probate issues after 1 p.m. are by appointment only.
- The Essex County Superintendent of Election/Commissioner of Registration will fulfill requests for voter histories electronically. Voter registration forms are available at www.nj.gov/state/elections; completed forms with an original signature must be mailed.
- The Essex County Register’s Office is suspending any non-essential walk-in and counter service. The public who want documents recorded are required to mail them. As a reminder, deeds and mortgages dating from May 2001 are available online. In addition, vault hours for title searches are reduced to 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- The Board of Freeholders are reducing office hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The County Executive said conditions surrounding the virus are changing rapidly and will continue to be monitored. Essex is relying on the guidance of the Essex County Health Officer, the New Jersey State Department of Health, the CDC, WHO, and other public health authorities. County policies will evolve as public health experts understand more about the virus.
These measures are in addition to an announcement by the County Executive last week that all County-sponsored events are cancelled; Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Arena, golf courses and parks buildings are closed; the Essex County Schools of Technology District will conduct remote learning; visitation at the Correctional Facility has been modified; visitation and weekend passes at the Hospital Center have been postponed; Special Transportation buses will be cleaned and sanitized; congregate lunch sites have transitioned to grab and go formats; and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures have been enacted at all county buildings.
In addition, Sheriff Armando Fontoura has announced that foreclosures, evictions and sheriff’s sales will be suspended for the next two weeks.