By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Given the circumstances that required us to celebrate differently this year, I still hope everyone had a happy Easter and Passover.
As our nation and state continue to deal with the effects and severity of COVID-19, I want to let you know that myself and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders continue to work with local, state and federal officials to ensure our residents are receiving the information and support needed during this unprecedented time. We continue – and will continue – to advocate on behalf of our business community and its employees.
In addition to hosting our weekly press conferences, which News 12 New Jersey always airs and can also be viewed online, I continue to meet with and conduct conference calls with Freeholder Deputy Director Sue Kiley, the Freeholder Board, Sheriff Shaun Golden, the County’s administration team, the Monmouth County Health Department, the Monmouth County Regional Health Commission and municipal officials. It is important we keep the line of communication open to ensure the necessary information is being received by our local officials and residents.
Additionally, my fellow Freeholders and I routinely communicate with hospital administrators and our small business community to offer support during this difficult time. If you missed my previous letter, I would like to again provide the website established by the State to provide guidance for businesses impacted by COVID-19. That website is cv.business.nj.gov.
Two weeks ago, my fellow Freeholders and I announced our own new initiative, “Take Out in Monmouth,” that we created to assist our restaurants still operating here in Monmouth County. To help keep our food and restaurant industry open during this time, we prepared a comprehensive list of all food and restaurant businesses that remain open for takeout and delivery. This information can be accessed on our main County website – www.visitmonmouth.com – or directly at www.TakeOutinMonmouth.com.
Last week, we had well over 750 businesses participating in the “Take Out in Monmouth” initiative. With the overwhelming interest in the initiative we decided to add breweries and wineries to this online list to further boost the local economy. We expect to expand this list in the near future to continue supporting businesses still operating.
Together, Monmouth County municipalities, local chambers, as well as the County Divisions of Economic Development and Tourism, continue to research and identify all food grocers, breweries, wineries and restaurants open. While the County works to maintain an updated list, email [email protected] to be listed or request a change in listing.
As the liaison to the Divisions of Economic Development and Tourism, I want to stress how important it is to continue to support our local small businesses during these trying times.
On another note, Governor Murphy issued an Executive Order last week closing all County parks, indefinitely. While I do understand the importance of social distancing, I do not support the indefinite closure of all county parks in New Jersey.There are a number of options that could have been considered as an alternative to completely closing county parks, including limiting hours or days. I am a firm believer in the mental health benefits of being in nature, especially during difficult times like this. I promise we will open our parks as soon as the Executive Order is lifted.
I am proud to say that our social distancing efforts seem to be working as we have dropped from the County with the second highest number of cases to seventh. This can all be allotted to the hard work and dedication of our staff and residents but more importantly of our healthcare workers and first responders who have been working diligently on the front lines of fighting this virus. To show our appreciation to these workers we have placed electronic signs around the County thanking healthcare works and first responders for all they do to protect the residents of our great County.
Lastly, I want to ensure the residents of Monmouth County that my fellow Freeholders and I are working tirelessly to keep you informed with the most up to date and accurate information. We will continue to provide the total number of cases daily as well as the breakdown of cases by municipality.
Please understand that we are trying to disseminate information in a timely manner. As the hours pass, the number cases and State regulations are regularly changing. Every measure that we take is done with the best interests of our residents and communities. The County will release information as soon as it is readily available.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders cannot stress the importance of receiving accurate, up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 from credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the New Jersey Department of Health (www.nj.gov/health) and the County website (www.visitmonmouth.com).
The Board of Chosen Freeholders and Sheriff Shaun Golden will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the residents of Monmouth County and I encourage everyone to do their part by practicing social distancing, staying home when sick and correctly covering their coughs and sneezes.
Let us remember those we have lost during this crisis, those fighting and all of our first responders, health care workers and all other essential employees who continue to work during this difficult time.
We will get through this together.