MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Board of Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution this week calling for the safe, phased reopening of New Jersey, allowing a re-start of the state’s economy while protecting the public health from the continuing presence of COVID-19.
The resolution, which is being sent to Governor Phil Murphy, state legislators, the New Jersey Association of Counties, and mayors in all 39 Morris County municipalities, was a recommendation of the new Morris recovery task force, which has been created by the freeholders.
“We have reached a point where continued closure of business in New Jersey may actually be causing harm to overall public health,” said Freeholder John Krickus, who is chair of the Task Force.
“More deaths are likely resulting as outreach and treatment for opioid addiction are hampered, as people avoid emergency room visits neglecting symptoms that lead to heart attacks and strokes, and as medical procedures and screenings are continuously postponed.
“We need to reopen Morris County business in a safe, phased manner, while protecting public health, providing citizens with income and hope, saving both lives and livelihoods,” he added.
The resolution noted that there have been significant declines in new reported COVID-19 cases in Morris County, dropping from a peak of 204 to a recent daily average of 52. COVID testing demand at the county drive-thru testing center at County College of Morris CCM has declined from 320 daily to 85 per day, with positive results from those tests dropping from 43 percent to 15 percent.
In particular, the freeholders’ resolution targeted the county’s hospital and healthcare industries. As a result of a declining number of COVID-19 cases, the stress on hospitals and medical facilities is decreasing, providing the ability for them to return to dealing more aggressively with non-COVID-19 cases.
Reopening medical services will have three major impacts:
- Saving lives and improving public health by providing delayed medical procedures and preventative screening.
- Ensure that our “medical heroes” jobs are secure.
- Ensure that health services providers have the financial strength to maintain robust staffing and capabilities.
“Unneeded deaths may be occurring as hospitals have seen a significant decline in heart and stroke cases as people avoid medical facilities, including a reported drop of more than half in emergency room visits,” the freeholder stated in their resolution.
However, with reopening comes a need to remain vigilant in dealing with the novel coronavirus, the board stated. The resolution asks all county residents to continue maintaining social distancing practices to help contain the spread of the virus.
To prepare for recovery and continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Freeholder Board, in coordination with county and local health officials, has initiated a countywide Contact Tracing program.
Towards that end, the freeholders approved hiring a part-time public health nurse and up to five disease control field representatives to bolster the Morris County Office of Health Management staff. Also, volunteers from the Morris County Medical Reserve Corps have signed up for the program, which reaches out to people with COVID-19 and tries to determine who have been in contact with them.
The key objective of the Morris County Recovery Task Force is to anticipate and prepare Morris County to reopen in the most effective manner, both in terms of protecting public health and renewing business, social and religious activities.
Leaders from government, health, education, labor, social services, tourism and arts, and others will participate in an effort to gather information, share ideas and develop strategies for the post-COVD-19 world in Morris County, in conjunction with state and federal governments.