By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
I hope everyone enjoyed the beautiful fall weather this weekend.
I want to provide you with an update on the COVID-19 situation in Monmouth County, as well as, the Monmouth County CARES Act grant and the upcoming November General Election.
I know that there has been a lot of talk about the recent uptick in COVID cases in Monmouth County and I would like to shed some light on these cases and the reasons they are occurring.
The Monmouth County Health Department’s case investigations have determined the bulk of exposures are from youth athletic facilities, school sports practices and gatherings that occurred during Labor Day Weekend. Almost half of the new cases are young adults between the ages of 16 and 25.
It is important to note that even though this age group does not get very sick, they do have the ability to spread COVID to other family members and people within their community which provides the opportunity for ongoing transmission within their town and can put vulnerable populations at higher risk for contracting the disease.
In response to the rise in cases, Monmouth County has implemented a community testing initiative designed to detect an increase in cases and provide free testing to Monmouth County residents. In addition, Monmouth County has doubled their contact tracing corps to quickly identify contacts and limit community spread.
It is also important to note that MCHD has conducted a thorough review all the COVID-19 cases in the 29 towns they serve and no cases have been linked to restaurants or retail food establishments at this time.
I want to ensure you that the health and safety of our residents remains our top priority
Switching gears, I am excited to provide an update on the Monmouth County CARES Economic Assistance Grant Program. We have received more than 2,249 applications and handled nearly 3,500 phone calls regarding the program.
Additionally, we have approved more than $14.1 million that has been dispersed. We still have more than $6 million available, so we are urging small business owners to submit an application. The application is relatively simple and all you need is your tax return to get started.
If you have any questions, about eligibility or how to fill out an application, the County is ready to help you. You can go to www.MonmouthCountyCares.com or call 732-375-2196, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Lastly, we are only a few short weeks away from the General Electionand we understand that there are still concerns regarding the Election and how all of the ballots will be counted.
I want you to know that Monmouth County is doing everything in our power to make this process as efficient, accessible and secure as possible. We have placed 17 mail-in ballot drop boxes throughout the County. The locations may be found on www.VisitMonmouth.com .
In an effort to assist with the counting of ballots from the nearly 500,000 registered votes in Monmouth County, we have purchased four additional ballot scanners and the most robust and secure suite of integrated voting software solutions on the market, investing more than $230,000.
Dominion Voting Systems’ software will automatically and digitally route ballots for adjudication. This feature is a first in the industry and eliminates the manual duplicating of ballots. This also protects the ballot chain of custody and limits the handling of voter marked ballots
Additionally, Monmouth County has also hired 60 individuals to assist the Board of Elections with opening the ballots and placing them in the scanners.
If you have any questions about how to Vote By Mail or the Election, go to www.MonmouthCountyVotes.com .
As always, it is an honor to serve as your Freeholder Director.