October 19 – A message from Mayor Manzo regarding COVID-19 – copy

From the Desk of the Mayor
Harrison Township, New Jersey

The weather is noticeably cooling and the expected surge in the spread of the COVID-19 virus appears to be taking shape. The spikes that began in August have been attributed to the commencement of outdoor sports activities or students heading back to college. In September, in-person education activities or other back-to-school related events were the focus of reasoning when we discussed the increased number of cases being reported. Now the conversation is beginning to tilt towards the fact that we knew there would be a second wave of the Coronavirus in the Fall, as temperatures dropped.

I know this is frustrating, especially as we all deal, individually, with the impact of the virus on our businesses, careers, and fiscal health in addition to the physical health uncertainties. I’ve had this discussion in my own family, with our grown children out on their own navigating their virus-impacted workplace, my parents and in-laws in their 80’s living in near total isolation and nieces/nephews, still of school age, finding their way through it. There is no universal explanation or guidance for all of this. No one on the planet has the definitive answer since there is no precedent and we cannot say how this will play out over the next 12 months and beyond.

The short-term answer to everything is simple. Have patience, which is not so simple. At this point, I think we all realize that there is no returning to our pre-COVID life with the flip of a switch. This is an evolving process, and we need to deal with the challenges as they come. For those of us impacted by the health threat, directly or within our close orbit, these decisions are actually easier to make since our health is at stake. What restriction or challenge are you unwilling to embrace as a trade off for you or your loved one to survive the worst result of exposure to the Coronavirus? Hard to think of one, right?

For those of us not touched by the health threat because no one in our world has contracted the virus or had severe symptoms and been hospitalized, more “choices” are available. Frustration with restrictions is also more evident with us. I get it. However, it is important to realize that the choices we make can also impact the evolution of the virus. So, patience is the key. Find enjoyment in the little things. I’m hoping that as we get closer to the holiday season, that will occur naturally.  

I prefaced the “numbers” section of this update with a sense of resolve about dealing with this crisis and a message of patience and appreciation for a reason. It is with great sadness that I report that a second Harrison resident has fallen victim to the COVID -19 virus. As you probably know, the names of those lost to the virus are not reported. We are only notified that victim #223 was a 66-year-old male from Harrison Township. Somewhere in our community, a family has had the unspeakable happen to them within the last couple weeks. Please join me in grieving for them, knowing that only by the grace of God, it isn’t your family or mine. Perhaps think of that the next time frustration sets in about a social limitation or inconvenience. 
The increasing trend of positive tests for the COVID-19 virus continues statewide, with 7,108 new cases recorded since last Monday; 30% higher than the prior week. That brings the statewide total to 221,205. New Jersey has now administered 4,217,705 tests, translating to a 5.2% cumulative positive test rate. We lost 38 more New Jersey residents this past week, bringing that total to 14,425.  

Gloucester County recorded 282 new cases this past week, slightly less than last week’s increase (312). A total of 5,336 county residents have now tested positive since March, while 64,082 have tested negative. Our cumulative positive test rate continues to hold steady at 7.7%. The death toll in the county rose by 5 in the last week and we now have lost 228 county residents.
In Harrison, we recorded 13 new cases since last Monday. A total of 217 residents in our hometown has tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began in mid-March. As I’ve stated, we are now mourning the second death in Harrison due to the virus.

The Vote By Mail (VBM) process has begun. There was a little confusion last week as residence began receiving a small postcard from the Gloucester County Clerk’s Office. The card had the wrong salutation (“Dear…..”) on it. Meaning my card, addressed to Louis Manzo at my correct address, didn’t read “Dear Louis Manzo….” on the other side. The salutation, mistakenly, had a different name inserted. The County quickly confirmed that the salutation mistake, was the only mistake on the card. The information about how to track or re-request your VBM ballot and the location of the County Drop Boxes was all correct.

Repeating that, you can most easily track your ballot once you’ve submitted it at TrackMyBallot.nj.gov or call 1-877-NJ-VOTER. Also, if you do not receive your VBM ballot by the end of this week, call the Gloucester County Clerk’s Office at 856-384-4530. 

We’ve received great feedback on our hometown Voter Guide, located on our township website’s homepage. When in doubt, check it out, titled 2020 General Election Information

Look for my interview later this week with Committeewoman, Julie DeLaurentis, detailing our Miracle on Main transformation planned for Thanksgiving weekend. There are certain constants in life that you can always count on. Here, in Harrison, that includes an indomitable spirit that always finds a way to overcome obstacles. In this case, it’s about making the holiday spirit come alive when it will be needed most. Our own little miracle….brought to you…..Harrison Strong!


Together for Harrison Township,
Lou Manzo
Your Mayor