June 12 – A message from Mayor Manzo regarding COVID-19

From the Desk of the Mayor
Harrison Township, New Jersey

June 12, 2020

his is my second update of the week, but I did not provide a Science of Well-Being segment this week. I will circle back to that next week. It’s been a busy week in relation to the virus and restriction easements as we progress to the re-opening of non-essential retail businesses this coming Monday. Most notably, the Governor lifted the Stay at Home order earlier this week, which included increasing the number of people permitted to gather both inside (50) and outside (100). We are clearly moving more rapidly at this point. This new norm will likely include lower capacity limits in restaurants and other businesses, as well as a higher sensitivity on distancing and sanitizing public places. We will keep you up to speed on additional easements going forward.

Since my last update on Tuesday, Statewide, there have been 1,368 additional positive tests. We’ve now had a total of 166,164 positive cases since the outbreak began in early March. The statewide positive test rate is now 15.7%. We lost 186 more New Jersey residents since Tuesday, bringing that total to 12,489.

Gloucester County saw an increase of 47 more positive tests, bringing that total to 2,383. The negative test total reached 14,630, lowering our positive test rate to 14.0%. We’ve seen 158 county residents die from this virus, with 4 coming in the last three days.

In Harrison, there was no change since Tuesday, holding at 58 total positive tests and 1 death and maintaining the lowest positive test rate in the county.

All Gloucester County residents can call to schedule a COVID-19 or Antibody Test with no prerequisites. To schedule a test, please call the COVID-19 Hotline 856-218-4142 between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, Monday thru Friday and specify which test you are seeking. You must have an appointment to be administered either test. Keep in mind that when registering for the Antibody Test, you are asked for your Health Insurance information. Therefore, based on your coverage, you may incur a cost.
As we emerge from the economic shutdown, it is more important than ever for us to shop and buy local, when possible. Our community did a great job in supporting the local restaurants during the “delivery/pick-up” restriction. As they are permitted to open their doors again, starting Monday with outside dining, let’s continue to support them. Our Harrison Strong commitment now applies to all the other retail businesses that will re-open this Monday. Enjoy the nice weather that has finally graced us and take a walk down Main Street. Our local shop owners need us, so take a moment to pop in check out their offerings…..it’s been a while. 
Reminder that there are great t-shirts out there that show that local pride, both of which direct portions of the cost to worthy causes. Check out the Eat, Be, Stay Well t-shirt benefitting the No Kid Hungry program or the Buy Local t-shirt benefitting Your Place At The Table (YPATT). I bought both!

In my last update, I wrote about the Vigil held here in Mullica Hill this past Monday night. We estimated several hundred people attended in person, close to 100 watched via Facebook Live and the video has been viewed on our FaceBook Page almost 3,000 times. Since the death of
George Floyd on May 25th, I have been asked repeatedly about our local Police policies and procedures regarding Use of Force. Certainly, Monday night’s Vigil was not the time or place to address that, but I will provide you some insight here.

Over the last 6-8 years as our local PD has evolved, there has been an emphasis placed on ethical standards. As a department in transition during this period, with a new Chief and Command Staff, along with several new, younger Officers coming onboard, setting high standards was a priority.

Obviously, the long-awaited new Police facility brought us up to speed with certain physical requirements that our PD had lacked for years. That also enabled us to focus on the personnel aspect of the department.

As law enforcement professionals will tell you, it is imperative to have a codified policy or procedure in place for every action an Officer takes. Our PD adheres to the Attorney General Guidelines, which should be the basis for any procedural conversation. All of us should be familiar with those guidelines if we want to engage in a productive dialogue. As our transformation continued with our new facility coming online about two years ago, we discussed ways to ensure we had the highest ethical standards in place. Beyond adherence to the AG Guidelines, the answer was to seek the Accredited Agency designation by the NJ State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP).

This basically means that you establish “the highest ethical and professional standards in law enforcement”. Sixteen months ago, we began that certification process, which includes Use of Force policies and ramifications for any violation. We are in the final stages of that certification process and will likely attain Accredited Agency status within the next 60 days.

I provide you with this insight because I want to make it clear that well before the recent focus on these issues, we had been fulfilling a philosophy of transparency and fairness within our PD with action to codify it. As Public Safety Director for Harrison Township, I have worked closely with Chief Mills and the Command Staff in setting and implementing these priorities and we are proud to let that record speak for itself.

Going forward, this backdrop and history are important as we take the lead in seeking to bring our community and others together to address these issues. There is a movement afoot to do so like never before and it will take commitment and patience, but most of all, it will take the engagement of community leaders and the public to promote opportunities or forums to have the difficult conversations.

In a recent update, I included a link to the Rowan University online series We Are Not OK: Injustice, Action & Healing. I am honored to have been asked to sit on a panel of community leaders for the fifth and final segment in that series, Where Do We Go From Here? Navigating Campus and Community, this coming Monday at 3pm. This panel will include Mayor John Wallace from Glassboro and Police Chiefs from Glassboro and Rowan University, among others.  

As we watch nationwide protests and vigils, we also see isolated actions both admirable and appalling. It is clear we need to come together for healing  to occur and for progress to be made in overcoming the racial challenges we face as a nation. I know the answer lies in forums like the Rowan series that can lead us down the path to unity. On Monday I will represent us in that conversation, Harrison Strong.


Together for Harrison Township,
Lou Manzo
Your Mayor


A message from Mayor Manzo regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19. Learn more