Lakewood Briefs – March 14, 2021

LAKEWOOD -

Governor Murphy Visits CHEMED Vaccination Center

Governor Phil Murphy paid a visit to CHEMED Health Center to tour its COVID vaccination site and thank staff for their efforts throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve had a great relationship with its elected officials, local leaders from faith communities and advocates,” said Gov. Murphy. “CHEMED has been a great player early on with testing and now with vaccines. You guys have been great partners and on behalf of the two of us we say thank you.”

The Governor’s stop is one of many he has made at vaccination sites around the state. The visit was joined by state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. Leading the tour of CHEMED’s vaccination tent was its CEO, Dr. Dovid Friedman. Dr. Freidman told the Governor that CHEMED has administered about 22,000 vaccines and performed 110,000 PCR tests to date.

On his walk around the tent that CHEMED has set up for administering vaccines, the Governor spoke with staff and those receiving their inoculations. Supplies of the vaccine have been limited nationwide. Governor Murphy said that he and Commissioner Persichilli expect “modest” supply increases over the next month and an “explosion” in early summer.

The Governor was presented with a plaque recognizing his administration’s role in Lakewood’s efforts to combat the COVID pandemic and with a box of matzos.

Also on attendance were Mayor Ray Coles, Rabbi Abe Freidman, an NJ state police chaplain and community liaison, Dr. Chaim Kaweblum, a member of CHEMED’s staff who was hospitalized for a long stint with COVID, Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, Rabbi Aaron Kotler, president and CEO of Beth Medrash Govoha, and Rabbi Avi Schnall, Agudath Israel of America’s state director for New Jersey.

“It was very sentimental for me to meet the governor,” Kaweblum, 61, said. “I saw him giving eulogies for my friend and colleague Dr. (Harvey) Hirsch and to meet him, in the vaccination room, was very meaningful because we’ve gone through so much here in Lakewood.”

Wildfire Causes Damage and Shuts Parkway

A forest fire along Airport Road near Cedarbridge Avenue destroyed two buildings and temporarily shut a stretch of the Garden State Parkway this past Sunday afternoon.

The fire started near Lakewood’s industrial part and spread towards Brick Township. Dry and windy conditions contributed to the quick spread. The Parkway was closed between exits 83 and 90.

Firefighters from several towns came to the scene to attempt to control the blaze. As of Sunday afternoon, no injuries were reported and the cause as well as the full extent of the damage were unknown.

Sen. Singer and Assemblymen Kean and Thomson Urge Changes to NJ Marijuana Law

Senator Robert Singer, Assemblyman Sean Kean, and Assemblyman Ned Thomson, all Republicans representing parts of Ocean and Monmouth Counties urged legislators to take action to fix items they see as problematic in recently passed law on marijuana use in New Jersey.

The first issue they targeted was a section of the law that prohibits law enforcement from informing the parents of minors who are caught with the drug or with alcohol.

“People are starting to realize some of the concerning provisions of New Jersey’s new marijuana laws that will cause real problems if we don’t address them now,” said Senator Singer. “Parents are worried that parental notification is now prohibited when kids are caught with drugs or alcohol. They have a right to know if their 12-year-old is smoking [marijuana]. Police officers are concerned that the new laws treat them like criminals. They’re not the enemy and we shouldn’t hamstring their efforts to keep kids away from drugs and alcohol.”

After the law was passed, the Republican minority in the state legislature raised hue and cry over the provision about parental notification. They were joined by several Democrats and last week, Governor Phil Murphy endorsed the idea of modifying the law to allow for police to notify parents of drug and alcohol possession by underage children.

The trio also said that more must be done to make municipal leaders and citizens aware of the narrow 180 day window they have to decide whether they have to decide if they will allow stores that sell the drug within their townships.

“Any old ordinances establishing restrictions were wiped away by the new law. If they fail to act now, they’ll have to wait another five years. Any shops that open during that time will be grandfathered and protected,” said Assemblyman Kean.

Assemblyman Thomson blamed what he saw as the rushed process by which the law was passed for the issues he and his colleagues seek to address, and urged lawmakers to find fixes soon.

“The legislative process surrounding legalization was a total mess and the laws that resulted reflect that,” he said. “There’s too much at stake to just throw up our hands and walk away. We need to build a coalition of legislators, local governments, and school boards to demand common-sense reforms that can make our marijuana laws work.”

Two Lakewood Providers to Receive COVID Vaccine Supply Directly from Federal Government

Two Lakewood COVID vaccine providers are slated to receive increased supply directly from the federal government.

The move was applauded by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) who was instrumental in helping CHEMED and Ocean Health Initiatives receive official recognition as qualified facilities in areas disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

“I greatly welcome this desperately needed federal support to increase the availability of vaccines to Lakewood residents and those in the surrounding communities,” said Rep. Smith. “While nearly 20 percent of Ocean County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, we must do more to expedite the vaccination process to help put an end to the tremendous suffering caused by this pandemic…This additional support from the federal government will help New Jersey meet the urgent demand for vaccines in a more timely manner and get them to the people who need it as quickly as possible.”

The allotment is funded by the CARES act passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by former President Donald Trump. 700 facilities nationwide have qualified according to guidelines set by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

“We thank the federal government in recognizing our work to date and including CHEMED in the federal vaccine allocation program,” said Dr. Dovid Friedman, the Chief Executive Officer of CHEMED. “We look forward to receiving vaccines from both the federal government and working with our partners at the state in continuing to administer vaccines effectively.”

In recent weeks, the number of new COVID infections has steadily decreased ending last week with a total of 240 reported cases according to the Ocean County Health Department. The week prior saw 347. The drop brings the town back to low levels not seen since the early winter.