July 17 – A message from Mayor Manzo regarding COVID-19

From the Desk of the Mayor
Harrison Township, New Jersey

July 17, 2020

Since Tuesday, there have been 636 additional positive tests recorded statewide. That increases New Jersey’s total positive test number to 176,551. There have also been 1,768,928 negative tests. That calculates to a 10.0% positive test rate. Since Tuesday, 75 more New Jersey residents have died, bringing that total to 13,710.

In Gloucester County, 33 more positive tests were recorded for a countywide total of 2,820. The total number of negative tests in the county also increased to 24,808, for a positive test rate of 10.2%. We lost 4 more county residents since Tuesday, sadly bringing that number to 190.

One additional Harrison resident tested positive since Tuesday, bringing our hometown total to 73, with 1 death.

My Update on Tuesday included a new perspective on the “numbers” I’ve been providing regularly related to the COVID-19 virus. The Chart I created included the week-to-week Totals and Increases in the number of positive tests recorded at the State, County and Local (Harrison) levels. I’m circling back to that since I received substantial reaction to the chart, overwhelmingly appreciating the data/perspective, but also prompting me to expand and clarify the information.

I’ve updated the chart below to include the very beginning of the outbreak, since we know the first COVID-19 case recorded in the state of New Jersey was on March 4th and the first in Gloucester County was on March 15th. The chart now dates back to the beginning of the outbreak and shows the data as reported every Friday since then, through today.

Again, seeking to avoid conversations of any “spin” on why this recent spike in the numbers is occurring nationwide, I want to focus on the New Jersey/Gloucester County/Harrison information. We know that the number of tests being conducted statewide, though continuing to increase, is at a similar level that it was for the month of June. Therefore, we can evaluate these numbers at face value.

When we look at the trend of the Increases in the total, from the beginning, they tell a story of a peak in mid-April and leveling by mid-June. If these State numbers were charted on a graph with the vertical axis noting the number of cases and the horizontal axis showing the weekly dates over the last 4+ months, they would form a simple curve with a sharp increase peaking in mid-April, a steady/sharp decrease through May and a leveling off into and through the month of June.

Though there has been a slight spike in the last three weeks across the board, clearly it is slight, and there are indications that it may be temporary. These next couple weeks will clarify that. If you’d like to reacquaint yourself with a specific timeline, now in hindsight, you can check out an article written in mid-June by NJ Advance Media’s Vinessa Erminio.
Locally, we are charged with the responsibility of enforcing all the regulations and protocols put in place through the multiple Executive Orders that have been issued by the Governor. Once again, this is not meant to invite a debate about these restrictions. Through this crisis, we have dedicated our energy to conveying information about resources, protecting our residents and doing whatever we can to help our local businesses survive this economic hardship triggered by governmental decisions. Of course, in our direct interaction with State officials, we have strongly supported a balance of maintaining the most responsible safety protocols, with the tempering of restrictions to that end.

At the risk of being accused of using my “Dad voice” once more, I want to ask for your help once again. On July 8th, the Governor signed Executive Order 163 “which requires individuals to wear face coverings in outdoor public spaces when it is not practicable to socially distance and keep a six-foot distance from others, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners, except where doing so would inhibit that individual’s health, where the individual is under two years of age, or in situations where individuals cannot feasibly wear a face covering, such as when eating or drinking at outdoor dining areas.”

This applies to us as we enjoy watching a youth baseball game or any other event. As certain restrictions are lifted, the opportunity to breach the mask rule becomes more prevalent. Quite simply, if you choose not to wear a mask at such an event, please sit in groups/pods of family/household members and distanced (6-feet) from other family/household groups sitting together. If you choose to closely interact with others, enjoy that conversation, but please put on a mask.

The last thing we are interested in doing is having our Police Officers show up at youth sport events to separate spectators or direct parents and grandparents to mask-up. We appreciate your understanding on this issue.
With our attention diverted elsewhere for obvious reasons, let me remind you of our obligation to complete the 2020 Census and how important that is. Back in March, we all should have received our personal invitation in the mail to do so. But if you lost that invitation, no worries. You can still fulfill your responsibility without the Census Personal ID Number included in that invitation by simply going to 2020census.gov where they can match you to your address so you can complete the survey.

The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. This is critical for South Jersey.

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

It’s also in the Constitution: Article 1, Section 2, mandates that the country conduct a count of its population once every 10 years. The 2020 Census will mark the 24th time that the country has counted its population since 1790.

Next Thursday our local merchants will be kicking-off a “Welcome Back to Main” event. The event will run Thursday thru Saturday and include extended hours of operation along with other perks and specials for shoppers looking to stroll Main Street and support our local businesses. You may have seen the “save the date” announcement in yesterday’s Happening in the Hill  email. There will be more information about this coming over the next few days, but I want to make sure that everyone marks their calendar and finds time to enjoy a walk on Main. I hope to see you there.

Finally, let me close out today and steer away from more talk about virus numbers, trends, masks or social distancing violations. As we enjoy the Dog Days of Summer, our leadership team is poised and positioned to move forward with a number of exciting projects in town. Several pertain to desirable development projects, as well as important renovation and restoration initiatives that will have a significant/positive impact on our community going forward. Recent times may have slowed timelines and altered paths, but our town is well positioned to emerge with the brightest of futures. Look for more details as some of these plans crystallize in the coming months. And remember…..that which we endure only serves to make us Harrison Stronger!

Together for Harrison Township,
Lou Manzo
Your Mayor