May 15 – A message from Mayor Manzo regarding COVID-19

From the Desk of the Mayor
Harrison Township, New Jersey

May 15, 2020

We head straight to the numbers today, seeing that Statewide, we have now lost 10,138 New Jersey residents, which is 436 more than my last update on Wednesday. There now have been 143,905 positive tests. The State DOH has adjusted their data reporting to include Total Tests, since they have the ability to compile that data from all entities doing testing now. Today, that number stands at 462,972, equating to a 31.1% positive test rate.

Gloucester County has recorded a total of 1,783 positive tests and 6,474 negative tests, for a positive test rate of 21.6%. We lost 12 more county residents since Wednesday, bringing that total to 108. One additional positive case was reported in Harrison, bringing our total to 43.

As you may have heard, yesterday the Governor issued Executive Order 143 that allows for the beaches to be re-opened on Friday, May 22nd, with social distancing practices in place. Boardwalk and street restaurants will be takeaway and delivery only and boardwalk and shore town retailers will be able to deliver. As I have mentioned, there has been a lot of discussion through all levels of government on the re-opening timeline. The Governor referenced decreases in hospitalizations, ventilator usage, new cases and the positive rate in recent weeks for allowing him to reopen some of the state from shutdowns that went into effect in March.

Hopefully you have seen the weather forecast for the weekend – the outlook is GOOD – here comes summer! I am sure many of you will be out in the yard, cleaning out the garage, or fixing up some things around the house. So of course, there will be some tasks that may a bit more than you want to tackle – which is why this week’s Digital Main Street is Home Improvement. Be sure to check out some of the specialists that could help you – while you help them by supporting local business!

Before delving in, I’ve failed to mention Dr. Laurie Santos, who is the Yale professor who designed and teaches this course. You can google her for more details, but she is the Director of Yale’s Comparative Cognition Laboratory and The Science of Well-Being is her brainchild.

I am happy to see that several hundred of you went in and took the State of Happiness questionnaire and the Character Strength assessment that I included in my first entry about the course that I will share aspects of, with you. So, now you have a baseline Happiness score, right? Keep that score filed away as we proceed. Today I will share things from the Week 2 lecture and lesson that begin to analyze and define what makes us happy. I viewed three videos (totaling 30 minutes) that address the typical things humans believe make them happy.

If you’re like most, you’d agree that happiness is achieved by having a Good Job, Money, Awesome Stuff/Things, True Love, Perfect Body/Looks or Good Grades (for students). In the videos, Professor Santos walks through multiple scientific research studies pertaining to these objectives and how they impact our overall happiness. In each case, she presents data showing that these common happiness targets do NOT make us happy.

I won’t provide all the examples Dr. Santos sites to make that case, but here are a couple. A 1998 study about getting a good job was based on a person’s State of Happiness number. It evaluated your “expected” reaction to getting (or not getting) the job versus your “actual” reaction once it happened. It found that your expected increase or drop in your happiness score was about 2 points either way. However, the study showed that your actual drop after not getting the job was less than 1 point. And if you found out the decision wasn’t fair, somehow, because they hired the boss’s kid….then your actual happiness score drop was zero! As long as you could rationalize that you didn’t fail, you were fine; with no decrease in your happiness score.

In each case, the studies showed that our expectations of increasing our happiness level through money or true love or losing weight, fall short of the actual feeling when we achieve these objectives. I’ll bet while you read that, you’re disagreeing, lol. We’ll get to why that’s the case. But for now, one validation of the expectation factor is the data they site concerning Lottery Ticket sales in the country. Brace yourself…….Americans spend about $70 billion (with a B!) on Lottery Tickets annually. That’s more than we spend on books, music, movie/sporting event tickets and video games combined. Married people (true love) are only “happier” than their baseline for the first 2 years and those with body image issues (weight/plastic surgery) tend to have a higher incidence of depression. So, even achieving an expected happiness target doesn’t result in the happy life we envisioned.

Why is that? This is where I’ll include one of the videos from the course to provide the answer. Dr. Santos verbalizes it better than I can condense it here. She shows that our mind plays tricks on us. For example, answer this question: If a baseball and bat cost $1.10 together, and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost? Quickly, your immediate reactionary answer is 10 cents, right? Wrong! The answer is 5 cents. That’s why it’s worth the 8-minute investment to watch this video.

The course keeps getting better from here. Stay tuned for highlights from the Week 3 lesson next week.

As we enter this transitional stage of this crisis, it is important for each of us to remain diligent with our social distancing protocols; especially as more restrictions are lifted going forward. I am so proud of the reaction and feedback I’ve received from many of you concerning the rules because it confirms our collective commitment. We are together, we have sacrificed, and we have supported each other every step of the way because we are Harrison Strong!


Together for Harrison Township,

Lou Manzo
Your Mayor


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