Ocean County Takes Steps to Address Potential Coronavirus Cases
The Ocean County Health Department and dozens of local media organizations took steps to prepare for potential cases of the Coronavirus.
Last week, the county administered its first test for the illness, which yielded a negative result.
“The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) is very pleased that this case turned out negative. However, it was a good opportunity to test our collective agency response and I was overall pleased with the open lines of communication,” said Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “Despite the good news in this instance, we will continue preparing for the eventuality of the virus making it here and continue to fine-tune the appropriate readiness plans when that time does come.”
The individual, a woman in her sixties form Berkeley Township, was admitted to Community Medical Center and is in stable condition. Over a dozen other county residents who traveled to countries with large outbreaks of the illness have been under observation.
The OCHD has been in communication with local schools, businesses, faith-based organizations, health-care providers and senior citizen groups to issue guidance documents and readiness plans.
“We still want our residents to know that while serious, the health risk still remains low, but being prepared is essential,” adds Toms River Mayor and Ocean County Board of Health Member Dr. Maurice (Mo) Hill. “We want people to continue with their daily activities, but to be more vigilant regarding hand and respiratory hygiene, practice proper hygiene, safe distancing and prevent travel to affected areas.”
Lakewood’s CHEMED Health Center hosted a local meeting with OCHD last Tuesday together with representatives from the county Office of Emergency Management, Beth Medrash Govoha and the town’s Board of Education, to discuss potential response plans.
“Health professionals advise most people recover from the COVID-19 without needing special treatment,” said County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman for Senior Services and County Operation. “However, we want to remind our significant senior community to be prepared and anyone else who may have underlying medical problems, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness,”
David Richter Wins Ocean County GOP Endorsement
David Richter has won the endorsement of the Ocean County GOP for his primary run to take on Congressman Andy Kim in upcoming elections.
“From day one we knew that Ocean County was crucial to the success of our campaign. I thank Chairman Holman for his support,” Mr. Richter said. “Ocean County made up the majority of the voters during the 2016 and 2018 Republican primaries. With their support, our campaign continues down the path to victory.”
The move is a turnaround as the party organization had been expected to grant its official nod to former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs. After picking up much initial support form party leaders in the district, her efforts to secure the primary have been set back by revelations of her past criminal record including convictions for shoplifting and possession of illegal substances.
Mrs. Gibbs, who serves as Deputy Director for the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative, a group that works to create jobs for union members, had won the endorsement of Burlington county’s GOP before the revelations were made public.
Party Chairman Frank Holman said that “David is the only candidate that can beat Andy Kim in November.”
Mr. Richter is the former CEO of Hill International, a global construction management company. He holds a law degree from University of Pennsylvania as well as two other master’s degrees from Oxford and Harvard and was the editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, an official publication of the Federalist Society.
He worked for Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a prestigious international law firm. In 1995 Mr. Richter joined Hill international. Under his leadership, the company grew from having 300 employees to 4,300. The majority of his dealings were with large-scale public-sector projects.
He was slated to run New Jersey’s second district, but switched to the 3rd, following Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s switch from the Democratic to Republican party.
The endorsement means that Mr. Richter will occupy the party’s main line on the ballot this coming June.
Freeholders Oppose GSP and Turnpike Toll Hike
Ocean County’s government body voiced its opposition to a proposed toll hike on the Garden State Parkway (GSP) and New Jersey Turnpike, and called for the area to be represented on the state’s highway authority.
40 miles of the GSP run through the county and, together with the Turnpike, they are the area’s central thoroughfares towards New York City and northern parts of the state.
The state’s highway commission announced that it would discuss the possibility of a toll hike at its next meeting in mid-March, but did not reveal how large of an increase was being considered. Following the announcement and call for public comment, Ocean County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution opposing any toll hike.
In a statement released after the resolution vote, the board’s Director Joseph Vicari said that while several toll increases have been made over the decades, Ocean County has seen few benefits from increased state revenue.
“New Jersey has not given Ocean County’s motorists any traveling options,” Vicari said. “This Board has long supported a rail line as a transportation alternative in Ocean County. Yet after years and years of studies, this has not moved forward by the state.”
The only public transportation available from most of the county towards New York City is the New Jersey Transit bus line.
Director Vicari also pointed to the state’s failure to widen Route 9, the county’s often traffic-clogged north-south route.
“Ocean County has been continually informed by state transportation officials that dualization of Route 9 will probably never occur,” he said. “So where does that leave us?”
Mr. Vicari called for an Ocean County representative to fill an open seat on the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Board of Commissioners.
“We have seen in the past, that when someone from the County served on the authority, we have been able to work together to provide needed improvements to our roads and infrastructure,” he said. “Without a voice, we have taxation without representation.”
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