Board of commissioners issues end-of-year COVID update

Borough promises better service, looks ahead to vaccinations for all.

During its first meeting of the new year, Haddonfield’s board of commissioners, acting in its concurrent role as the board of health, provided an update on all things related to COVID-19 and its anticipated vaccine.

At that Jan. 12 virtual session, Commissioner for Public Safety Colleen Bezich released updated totals for the borough: 393 total confirmed cases and six deaths since mid March. 

Mayor Neal Rochford added there were two recently confirmed cases among the Department of Public Works’ staff, as well as several employees who had to quarantine, leading to manpower issues. Rochford noted that, while leaf and trash collection is lagging, the borough is working to catch up. 

“Our commitment to the residents of Haddonfield with these services continues in the new year, and we hope to get through all this and get back to normal as soon as possible,” he said.

Bezich reported that several positive COVID cases at the end of December caused some staffing issues within the police department. But she noted that no hospitalizations were necessary among the department’s cases, and most officers affected have returned to duty after quarantining.

“Based on those issues, and having seen the spike from Thanksgiving and anticipating the spike for our Christmas and New Year’s, we did close the police department lobby to the public,” noted Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough. 

The public is still allowed to access borough hall because protective safety measures have been enacted for the safety of employees and patrons. But McCullough stated that neither the public nor any other groups are permitted to gather in the municipal building because of the current executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy limiting indoor capacity to a maximum of 10 persons. All committees and boards will continue to conduct meetings virtually until further notice. 

Bezich further revealed that Fire Chief Lou Frontino did recently receive the first vaccine dose and is awaiting the second. Police Chief Jason Cutler told McCullough that he and the rest of the police department are scheduled for vaccination. 

Joining the meeting remotely, Anne Walters, director of the county’s Health and Human Services department, said vaccinations are currently available for Phase 1A personnel, which include police, fire staff and EMTs. The county has opened a vaccination site at the Blackwood campus of Camden County College, where 1A vaccinations are available and vaccinations for Phase 1B are expected “shortly.” This site is expected to be open Monday through Saturday.

All information related to vaccine distribution, particularly public registration, will be posted at camdencounty.com. According to Walters, Public Works’ employees are considered 1B.  

As previously reported by Commissioner Director Louis Cappelli Jr. at a board of commissioners work session call on Jan. 4, the state-run vaccine supersite closest to Haddonfield is the Moorestown Mall. Walters offered further clarification, saying the former Lord & Taylor store is the targeted location at the mall. 

Bezich reiterated the need to wear masks and practice social distancing whenever possible. Citing several sources, she added that contraction and transmission of COVID is still possible between receiving the first and second doses of the vaccine. 

“I ask everyone to be mindful and patient for just a little bit longer,” she added.