HEALTH OFFICER’S CORNER
                  July 2020

To Monmouth County Regional Health Commission Communities:

The State of New Jersey has issued Executive Orders No. 122, 156, 161 and 163 all having to do with face coverings.  On June 8th Executive Order No. 163 requires face coverings while outdoors. Due to the increase in the positive cases in New Jersey and around the country, the majority of outdoor activities, with a few exceptions will have to be conducted using face coverings if keeping a six feet distance from others cannot be achieved.

We recognize that the nice weather, graduations, summer camps, sports activities and social gatherings make it easy to forget that COVID-19 exists. That’s why it is so important to know the risks you may be putting yourself, your family and your community in. Wear your masks at all times and resist the temptation to be complacent. The steps outlined in Executive Order No. 163 are nothing short of essential in the process of re-opening NJ to the benefit and health of all. We collectively have to do our part to “bend the curve” and reduce and/or prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Get Tested – Testing is now available to everyone in New Jersey including those who are asymptomatic or not showing symptoms. You could have COVID-19 and not even know it. You should also get tested if you have symptoms, have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, are an essential worker, or were recently in a large crowd where social distancing was hard to maintain. Learn how and where to get tested at nj.gov/testing.
  • Answer The Phone When A Contact Tracer Calls – If you are called it is because you either tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has – so it's critical you answer the phone. Contact tracers are calling with life-saving information that will keep you, your loved ones, and your community safe and healthy.
  • Wear a Mask - Always wear a mask over your nose and mouth in public spaces, and anywhere that you cannot keep 6 feet of distance from another person.
  • Keep a Social Distance - Keep six feet between yourself and others whenever possible, including a neighbor’s house party and avoid crowded areas.
  • Adhere to The Travel Quarantine Advisory - New Jersey has significantly lowered our case numbers as other states see their numbers rise dramatically. Therefore, all individuals are asked to quarantine for 14 days after entering New Jersey, if traveling from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

During this unprecedented pandemic our collective efforts will reduce the spread so that we can build a safer future for all to enjoy in good health. We at the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission No. 1 continue to do our part in this important endeavor.  Visit our website at www.mcrhc.org for more information about COVID and about NJ’s re-opening. Stay encouraged, hopeful and safe!

Yours in Health,

David Henry, Health Officer

June 2020 Health Officer Message
 
April 2020 Health Officer Message

THE TRUE FACE OF THE MONMOUTH COUNTY REGIONAL HEALTH COMMISSION NO. 1
IN THIS FIGHT INCLUDES

 

Our REGISTERED ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS – have maintained 24-7 open communication lines with officials in the multiple towns they each cover. They respond to concerns of our town Point of Contacts which include governing bodies and municipal staff, OEM Coordinators EMS, Police, Restaurant owners, etc. The REHS members also research the online database regarding COVID-19 case entries and results. In addition, they continue to deal with the other concerns and responsibilities that are part of their job as health inspectors.

Our ADMINISTRATIVE Staff – manning phone lines, fielding and directing the wide range of town and public inquiries, financial recordkeeping relating to grant management, Monthly Commission Board meeting remote preparation, minutes, etc. as well as general office schedules and operation. Website planning/updates/listserv management /and frequent communication updates and HO messages to our towns.

Our HEALTH EDUCATOR (partially grant funded) – with a strong Risk Communications background under the direction of the Health Officer has compiled pertinent fact sheets and other disease awareness, preparedness and personal wellbeing maintenance tips for the general public as well as targeted guideline documents for different facets of the community and transformed them into website updates as well as public health advisories/press releases.

Our CONSORTIUM Members have worked tirelessly to manage the situations within their own areas many using volunteer assistance, as well as communicating with the MCRHC Communicable Disease Team.

Our COMMISSION
President Len Giles has been present at our office a majority of the time, to review all news reports, NJDOH and Governor Murphy’s daily updates, take phone calls, make sure staff safety measures are kept in the forefront. He has reviewed various Commission communications/meeting documents in order to assist the Health Officer. All of this illustrates the Governing body’s support of the MCRHC staff. He is also working to improve our technical methods of disseminating information and holding future department telephone and video conferencing.

Our Vice- President Paul Roman and several other Commissioners and town officials have constantly sent words of support via phone and email comments and those with medical backgrounds have offered helping hands as well.

Our COMMUNICATION EFFORTS

Website pages dedicated to the virus and many links to provide disease/symptom knowledge, CDC state changing regulations, case counts, steps to maintain wellness, etc. (mcrhc.org)

Our temporary expanded phone hours allowing for accessibility of staff to provide answers for medical personnel, towns and the public
(732-493-9520) will be in effect as needed.

Health Officer/Communications Committee: Public Health Alerts and Advisories Emails to inform of resources, protocol, or dangerous practices to avoid (sign up on our website for E News)

Media Relationships (NBC News, Asbury Park Press, 101.7 The Boss) met or stay in contact with our Health Officer and PIO David Henry to gain understanding of the disease and current operations to share with the general public.

Health Officer hosted COVID-19 Teleconferences –these updates have been very well attended. Reminder invitations are forwarded weekly to our Mayors, Administrators, OEM Coordinators, Commissioners, Staff and (recently) Police Departments.

The REHS and Administrative staff have worked to streamline efforts and put measures in place to provide the greatly needed assistance to our communities. In a situation such as this, we hope this has been successful in the vast majority of all calls and requests made to us. The state disease reporting database has been overwhelmed, and at points, slow to access along with governmental rulings that can delay test results and direct communications with towns.

Different community concerns have taken priority at different times throughout this public health crisis, having gone from what are the symptoms, How Spread, Where to find PPE, Where to Get Tested, Should School/Business/Facility Closings, what are best cleaning practices, what to do if you are aware of a positive test result, what is a close contact, how long should someone confirmed or deemed a close contact self -quarantine or self - isolate, I know of a business that is not practicing the recommended social distancing or PPE protocol, how can I donate blood plasma, what Executive Orders have been set and what are the latest numbers………

New and quickly changing information emerges in the form of NJDOH Talking Points, put out several times per week must be reviewed by ALL staff in order to correctly guide and respond to public questions.

 

 In summary, the professional and dedicated staff working and supporting our towns and residents through every step of this public health crisis extends beyond one department and I thank them all for supporting the MCRHC operation, their towns and each other at this most critical juncture.

We are pressing forward (along with the world right now) to keep our communities healthy!

Yours in Health,

David A. Henry
Health Officer