Memo from Mayor Mikulski – 3/23/2020 – On COVID-19

MEMO FROM MAYOR MIKULSKI 3/23/2020

The past week has been filled with updates and announcements, so many that it was hard to keep track. On behalf of my bosses, I wanted to share with you some key information.
And, I wanted to offer this

CALL TO ACTION FOR ALL OF US:
We must practice social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette if we are to mitigate the effects of this virus.
Simply put, please stay home, wash your hands thoroughly, and please cover your cough or sneeze. We will get through this. We are Jersey Strong.

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19:
The NJ Poison Control Center and 2-1-1 have partnered to provide information to the public on COVID-19. The hotline number is 1-800-962-1253. Or, you can call 2-1-1 with questions or concerns, or to access NJ’s statewide comprehensive information and referral service. Or text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information and stay informed. Additionally, NJ launched a COVID-19 Information Hub, covid19.nj.gov, where residents can get up-to-date information.

COVID-19 DASHBOARD AND HEALTH RELATED INFO:
The New Jersey Department of Health website www.nj.gov/health has updated information daily related to the public health emergency. Or visit www.cdc.gov

IF YOU’RE SICK:
Call your doctor if you’re sick or if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Your doctor can give you medical advice if you develop a fever or other symptoms.

TESTING SITES:
A testing site opened on Friday at Bergen Community College for NJ residents only (proof of ID necessary) and those exhibiting symptoms. The site will have the capacity to test 2,500/ week. Monmouth County site is opening today at PNC Bank Arts Center. There are also plans for a testing site to open at Camden County College in Blackwood once tests become available, and the Burlington County Coronavirus Task Force is looking to set up a site within the county soon.

CLOSURES, CROWDS, AND CURFEWS:
All social gatherings and assemblies, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events, are cancelled including conferences, large meetings, parties, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. Please note that law enforcement may charge folks who disregard these rules.
The Governor ordered the following businesses to close: non-essential retail; casinos and racetracks; gyms and fitness centers; entertainment such as movie theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, and nightclubs; shopping malls; places of public amusement; and personal care businesses such as barbershops, hair salons, spas, nail and eyelash studios, tanning salons, and tattoo and massage parlors. Bars and restaurants must be closed for on-premise dining but may provide take-out and delivery service only.

Certain essential businesses and facilities are considered exempt from these closures includes grocery and pet stores, food banks, medical industries, pharmacies and medical supply stores, gas stations, banks, and restaurants for take-out/ delivery. A complete list can be found here: https://covid19.nj.gov/faqs/nj-information/businesses-and-organizations/how-do-executive-orders-no.-107-and-108-on-closures-and-social-distancing-affect-my-business

INFORMATION FOR BUSINESSES:
The State has created a new webpage for businesses with questions related to COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus. There is a portal to submit a question or use the chat tool. http://cv.business.nj.gov/

RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES:
The US Small Business Administration approved NJ for disaster relief.
https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

WORKER PROTECTION PROGRAMS:
Visit NJ Department of Labor’s website to determine if you are eligible for unemployment, family leave, earned sick time or worker’s compensation benefits during the coronavirus outbreak. The chart below is a useful tool. For more info:
https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml

FILING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT:
Many residents have reached out to our office for help with unemployment benefits. The NJ Department of Labor is encouraging anyone seeking benefits to apply on their website: https://myunemployment.nj.gov/

UTILITIES
The NJ Board of Public Utilities announced that utilities have suspended all shut-off orders for electric and gas. https://www.bpu.state.nj.us/bpu/newsroom/2020/approved/20200313.html

HOUSING
Governor Murphy recently enacted a moratorium on removals due to evictions and foreclosures. However, we know that the next few weeks, maybe months, may be financially challenging for some. NJ Department of Community Affairs has various rental assistance programs that can help during times like these and is accepting applications. Learn more: https://njdca-housing.dynamics365portals.us/en-US/

SOCIAL SERVICES/ CHILDCARE
For information on childcare, cash shelter and food assistance, NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid, individuals with disabilities, mental health and substance abuse, and support for older residents please visit:
https://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/news/press/2020/approved/20200318b.html

PRICE GOUGING
Sadly, people will try to take advantage of others during times of crisis. Beware of scams and price gouging during this public health emergency. Report it at NJ Consumer Affairs: https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/

MOTOR VEHICLES:
All New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission agencies will be closed. All driver licenses, non-driver IDs, vehicle registrations, and inspection stickers expiring before May 31 have been extended by two months. Most renewals, replacements, changes of address, and other transactions can be processed online at www.NJMVC.gov. If your REAL ID Appointment was cancelled due to Agency closure from March 16, 2020 through March 29, 2020, keep your cancellation email. When MVC re-opens, you can bring the email to your appointment agency anytime within 30 days and get a REAL ID without an appointment.

MUNICIPAL COURTS
Chief Justice Rabner announced that municipal court sessions in New Jersey will be suspended for two weeks to minimize exposure to the coronavirus. More information about the closures may be found online at njcourts.gov.

FOOD SECURITY
The NJ Department of Agriculture has a list of Food Banks that serve each New Jersey County: https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/fn/pdf/EFO%20%20Listing.pdf

TAX FILING
IRS has extended tax deadlines from April 15 to July 15.

CENSUS 2020
We are in the midst of the 2020 Census. Our current public health emergency is a reminder of the importance of having an accurate Census count. Even if you received an invitation by mail, or even if you have not, you can still complete the Census online at my2020Census.gov. It’s simple and only takes 10 minutes to complete.

NJTRANSIT:
NJ TRANSIT is running special weekday service beginning Monday, March 23rd, 2020. The River Line special weekday schedule maybe be found on NJ TRANSIT’s website by clicking here. Due to the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 response, customers are strongly encouraged to sign up for My Transit alerts and activate push notifications on the mobile app to receive the latest status of the system.

STUDENT LOANS:
For loan deferment due to unemployment: https://www.hesaa.org/Documents/Relief%20Options/Unemployment.pdf.
For loan deferment due to temporary total disability: https://www.hesaa.org/Documents/NJCLASSTempDisabilityForm.pdf.
For loan deferment due to financial hardship: https://www.hesaa.org/Documents/Relief%20Options/Financial%20hardship.pdf.