Lakewood Briefs

LAKEWOOD -

Lakewood COVID Cases Steady as New Jersey Sees Surges

The number of reported COVID cases in Lakewood last week totaled 126. The tally fits a pattern from the past month when each week has produced a number of cases between one and two hundred according to data posted by the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD). The total number of infections is likely significantly higher than OCHD’s metrics as they do not account for cases that are either untested or figures that are not properly reported.

While Lakewood’s numbers have seemingly leveled off, New Jersey’s COVID numbers have surged over the past week with reports of over 4000 new cases per day statewide and over 2,000 hospitalized. Some locals have opted to tighten restrictions. Last week, Newark, a hot-spot of infections, issued a 10-day stay at home advisory.

In an attempt to fight rising infection rates, Governor Phil Murphy issued stricter restrictions on gatherings. Indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people. Weddings, funerals and religious services may continue under prior guidelines of 25 percent capacity with a limit of 150 people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 150 with a requirement of social distancing and mask wearing.

Grants Available to Help COVID Impacted Businesses Pay Rent

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders encouraged local businesses struggling with rent payments due to losses from the COVID pandemic to apply for grants available under the federal CARES Act.

“We need to take this action in order to help our restaurants and small businesses survive and once again flourish in the future,” said Freeholder Director Joseph Vicari. “Their economic health is the county’s economic health.”

$10 million has been set aside for the Ocean County Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program. Funding was taken from money given to the county under the CARES Act. Each qualifying business owner can apply for a $30,000 grant to defray rental costs. The application processed opened on November 17 and grants are awarded on a first come first served basis.

Applications will be processed through the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA). Grants are available to small businesses leasing commercial space in mixed-use buildings, small businesses leasing space in commercial buildings, and storefront businesses that lease their space and small businesses that demonstrate a loss due to the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the county offered $10,000 grants to 1,000 local businesses as part of a similar program.

Lakewood MVC Closes Due To Positive COVID Case

Lakewood’s Motor Vehicle Commission office was closed last week after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

It is set to remain shut until November 28, while county contact tracers work to allow those exposed to quarantine and to allow country contact tracers to identify others who came in contact with the employee.

The closure, one of seven MVC centers to close last week in the state for a positive COVID test, worsens on ongoing problem of long lines and slow service at motor vehicle offices.

Since MVC centers opened following the state’s lockdown, efforts to reduce foot traffic inside, have led to hours long waits outside of the buildings. In an effort to alleviate the situation, MVC has moved more operations online and much routine business such as license renewal can be done without visiting an office. Their offices have also begun allowing residents to set up appointments in advance for business that must be conducted onsite.