Freeholders declare state of emergency in Camden County

The following is message from the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders: 

The Freeholder Board has declared a state of emergency in Camden County in response to the global pandemic caused by coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result of the declaration, all nonessential employees and personnel county-wide will be asked to begin working from home on Tuesday, March 17.

At close of business on March 16 through March 31, Camden County and its agencies will activate emergency measures to reduce governmental operations to only essential functions. All essential employees, such as law enforcement, corrections, public safety and others as dictated will report to work as usual.

Non-essential employees will not report to work but will remain on call to work remotely as needed.

“The declaration is being utilized to protect the public health and ensure personnel can be home to care for their families during this unprecedented time,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “This was not an easy decision to reach, however, our priority is to make judicious decisions that will benefit us all, flatten the curve, and reduce the spread of this virus. We will be constantly reevaluating our operations to ensure that we can provide these services while continuing to protect our employees and our residents.”

Government Operations and Closures

Camden County will continue to provide core services, while tapering down operations elsewhere to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

As announced Monday morning, all branches of the Camden County Library System will close at 5 p.m. today, March 16, until April 13. Online resources and streaming services will be provided free to all residents during this time. For more information, visit camdencountylibrary.org/.

Effective immediately, both campuses, Pennsauken and Gloucester, of the Camden County Technical Schools will close and implement remote learning until March 31. Camden County College will also transition to virtual learning following its extended spring break on March 29.

At this time, all Camden County Sheriff sales have been halted, and all evictions have been stopped. The Camden County Parks Department has also suspended all park permitting.

The Camden County Pollution Control Financing Authority (PCFA), Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) and Improvement Authority (CCIA), will close and reduce staff to essential personnel only.

As part of the emergency declaration, the Freeholder Board is asking all nonessential businesses in the county to consider voluntarily closing or modifying operations to comply with CDC social distancing recommendations.

“We acknowledge that this request is a tough pill to swallow, and we absolutely do not take that reality lightly, however sacrifices made today are necessary if we are to save lives tomorrow,” Cappelli said. “The science is clear — the more we restrict social interaction, the slower the spread of infection becomes, and the fewer lives ultimately lost. This has become a life or death situation and the time to act is now.”

State Directives

Today, Governor Phil Murphy announced a series of sweeping measures to further reduce the spread of coronavirus statewide. All of these measures apply to Camden County schools, businesses, and residents.

  • Effective March 18, all pre-K, K-12 schools, and institutions of higher education must close.
  • Beginning tonight, all non-essential and non-emergency travel in New Jersey is strongly discouraged between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Beginning tonight, all non-essential retail, recreational and entertainment businesses must close each night after 8 p.m., until further notice. These businesses must limit occupancy to no more than 50 persons during daytime hours.
  • Effective at 8 p.m. tonight, all bars and restaurants must close for eat-in services. Bars and restaurants may stay open for takeout and delivery orders only until further notice.
  • Effective at 8 p.m. tonight, all racetracks, casinos, theaters and gyms must close until it is deemed safe for their re-opening.
  • Effective at 8 p.m. tonight, all public events of 50 persons or more are to be cancelled.

Senior Centers and Meals

All county-operated and congregate senior center sites will close at 5 p.m. today, March 16. All senior citizens enrolled in the Camden County Nutrition Program will automatically begin receiving home-delivery of meals tomorrow.

In light of broad closures among businesses and restaurants, as well as long lines and limited supply at supermarkets, the Division of Senior and Disabled Services is prepared to provide meals to any senior in need in Camden County, regardless of prior registration. To request assistance, residents should contact the Division at (856) 374-MEAL or (856) 858–3220.

About COVID-19/What to Do

The COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus which is believed to have first emerged in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness such as the common cold, or more severe illness such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

According to the CDC, current understanding about how the coronavirus spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, but it may be possible that a person can contract the illness by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The best way to prevent the spread and contraction of coronavirus is practicing good personal hygiene:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, and often, with soap and water for 20 seconds;
  • Stay home when you’re sick;
  • Avoid contact with others who are sick;
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue; and
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Anyone who believes they have been exposed to coronavirus should contact their healthcare provider immediately, and before visiting a providers’ office, hospital or the emergency room. To prevent the spread of the virus, it is critical that healthcare providers are aware of your symptoms, travel history, and other relevant details before you enter facilities with other patients.

If you are experiencing symptoms following possible exposure to COVID-19, seek medical care as soon as possible. Remember to call ahead and tell the healthcare provider’s office about your recent travel, symptoms and concern. Please also avoid contact with others and do not travel.

Residents should call 9–1–1 during emergencies only. For those with questions or concerns related to the novel coronavirus, call the free, 24-hour public hotline at 1–800–222–1222 or 1–800–962–1253 where trained professionals are standing by to answer your questions.

Information regarding Camden County’s preparations, response and general information provided to the public is available by visiting camdencounty.com. Residents should frequently check the county webpage and social media for up-to-date information.