COVID-19

For additional information on COVID-19, residents who have not registered with the Village’s SO Alert emergency notification system are encouraged to do so at: http://www.southorange.org/610/SO-Alerts

A state hotline regarding COVID-19 is also currently available.  Speak to a healthcare professional at 1-800-222-1222 or 1-800-962-1253.  For general information, testing, & basic needs, dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211.  For alerts/updates, text NJCOVID to 898-211

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed due to COVID-19, New Jersey has a Mental Health Helpline.  Please call 877-294-HELP (4357) or visit their website for emotional support, guidance and mental health referrals as needed.

COVID-19 Update (April 5, 2020)
38 COVID-19 Positive Test Cases in South Orange, Message from Village President Collum 

Neighbors:

As of 9:00 a.m. today, our community has 38 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. To put this into perspective, 68 residents have been able to get access to the limited testing available (e.g., they’ve exhibited the required fever and respiratory symptoms), and of that number, 38 results have returned positive and 30 have returned negative. The average age of South Orange residents who have tested positive is 50 years old.

The State of New Jersey currently has 34,367 cases and 846 deaths. The County of Essex has 4,052 cases and 165 deaths.

I, along with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, continue to urge you to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary travel and interactions to the greatest extent possible. If you are a parent or guardian, please keep your children safe at home as well.

Please Cover Your Face When You Leave Your Home

The Centers for Disease Control now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies).

The use of simple cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of the virus and prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  You can use cloth face coverings made inexpensively at home from household items or common materials. Learn how to make a cloth face covering here.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Note that recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders as recommended by current CDC guidance.

South Orange COVID-19 Information Portal

Please continue to visit our South Orange COVID-19 Info Portal, where we are providing a central hub of information for our residents that features information about local government services, frequently-asked questions, a directory of local businesses that are open, opportunities for the public to donate or get involved, and additional resources that may help the community navigate this very difficult time.

  • Keep your money local. Our small business community is struggling right now, and they need our help and commitment to shop local. Our Business Directory features Take Out & DeliveryAvailable Shopping, and Wellness and Services. Help spread the word using #SOMAOpenforBiz.
  • Get Involved. Give Back. Our South Orange Community Support Page highlights a variety of ways you can safely get involved to help our efforts to support both those who are struggling and the many on the front lines in healthcare and essential services.

The apex, or “peak,” of cases in New Jersey is expected to occur sometime within the next two weeks. It is absolutely critical, now more than ever before, that our residents stay at home.

In solidarity and safety,

 

Sheena C. Collum
Village President

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COVID-19 Update (April 1, 2020)
24 COVID-19 Positive Test Cases in South Orange, Message from Village President Collum 

Neighbors:

As of noon today, our community has 24 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. To put this into perspective, 49 residents have been able to get access to the limited testing available (i.e., they’ve exhibited the required fever and respiratory symptoms) and of that number, 24 have returned positive and 25 have returned negative. In our sister town of Maplewood, Mayor Frank McGehee has reported 53 positive test cases, including the tragic loss of a 44-year old resident to COVID-19.

 

I, along with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, continue to urge you to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary travel and interactions to the greatest extent possible. If you are a parent or guardian, please keep your children safe at home as well.

You have likely heard me and other government leaders reiterate guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that we need to keep at least six feet of distance from others. I’m sorry if this has caused some confusion. Maintaining six feet of distance is for when you must absolutely go out (i.e. picking up your groceries, stopping by the pharmacy) and trips where it’s likely you will encounter individuals outside of your immediate family. Some have taken that to mean that hosting/attending small gatherings with friends or neighbors is okay if there is six feet of distance. I’ve seen pictures on social media of neighbors coming up with creative ways to still be social and gather while maintaining six feet. While I understand, particularly as we all desire connection right now, experts are beginning to indicate that even these activities are not acceptable or in the spirit of the six-foot rule.

Please take a moment to consider the following article from NJ.com: “Sorry, hanging out while 6 feet apart isn’t coronavirus social distancing,” expert says.

In short: Stay at home. For most of us, that is the single biggest contribution we can make in the fight against this deadly virus. While our healthcare workers and employees who have been deemed essential are on the front lines of serving the public and are putting their own health at risk, we have one job – stay at home.

When we declared a State of Emergency on March 13, I advised the community that we would be reevaluating conditions at the end of the month. Our Emergency Declaration is being extended to Thursday, April 30, at which point we will again assess where we are. As Dr. Fauci so eloquently stated, “The virus makes the timeline.”


South Orange News and Updates

Our brick and mortar offices remain closed to the public, but we are operating remotely to the greatest extent possible. Like many towns across the country, we’ve taken advantage of the technology available to us to ensure the continuity of services to our residents. Below are friendly reminders and some new information.

Clerk’s Office:

  • Continues to provide vital records (marriage licenses and death certificates).
  • Rental registrations are still being accepted.
  • Open Public Records requests are still being processed.

Department of Public Works:

  • Spring Clean-Up begins today! Click here for more information.
  • Container Day has been cancelled for April.
  • The Recycling Center is closed until further notice.
  • Trash and recycling pickup will maintain their regular schedule.
  • Toters for recycling are being expedited upon payment.

Recreation:

  • Playgrounds, tennis courts, and basketball courts remain closed.
  • Parks are open for passive and no-contact recreation such as walking or jogging, doing some exercise by yourself or with your family. (Note that our police department is regularly monitoring our parks and any appearance of a gathering will be dispersed.)
  • Recreation badges are available through online purchase. The deadline for early bird pricing has been extended to May 15.
  • All other programming has been postponed.
  • The pool opening has been delayed to June 20. (We will reassess this date as needed.)

Payments and Taxes:

  • Sewer payment has been extended to May 1.
  • Property taxes are still due May 1, as any extensions would need to be given by the State of New Jersey.

Building and Code Enforcement:

  • Permits can still be submitted through regular mail or the Village Drop Box located outside the Village offices: 76 South Orange Avenue, Suite 302.
  • Certificates of Continued Occupancy and Certificates of Habitability are available through an affidavit located online on the Building Department website.
  • Inspections are limited until May 1.

Please do not hesitate to contact our offices at (973) 378-7715 if you have any questions.

 

South Orange COVID-18 Information Portal

Please continue to visit our South Orange COVID-19 Info Portal (thanks to our friends at 4elbows), where we are providing a central hub of information for our residents that features information about local government services, frequently-asked questions, a directory of local businesses that are open, opportunities for the public to donate or get involved, and additional resources that may help the community navigate this very difficult time.

  • Keep your money local. Our small business community is struggling right now, and they need our help and commitment to shop local. Our Business Directory features Take Out & Delivery, Available Shopping, and Wellness and Services. Help spread the word using #SOMAOpenforBiz
  • Get Involved. Give Back. Our South Orange Community Support Page highlights a variety of ways you can safely get involved to help our efforts to support those who are struggling, as well as many on the front lines in healthcare and essential services.

 

South Orange Small Business Virtual Meeting

Earlier today, we co-hosted a meeting (via Zoom) with our business community in partnership with the South Orange Village Center Alliance to discuss resources, grants, and loans available as a part of federal and state COVID-19 relief packages. A recording of the meeting, which had more than 100 participants, will be available on the Business Resources section of our website here, where you can also find a variety of other helpful information.


Last but not least, today is Census Day!

Wherever you are living on April 1, 2020, is where you need to be counted by the U.S. 2020 Census. If you haven’t already responded, take a few minutes now to do your part and make sure South Orange receives its share of federal funding and adequate representation in the U.S. Congress. For more information, check out https://2020census.gov.

Here’s how we’re doing:

  • New Jersey: 39.1%
  • Essex County: 32.8%
  • South Orange: 49.6%
  • Maplewood: 48.5%

Maplewood officials are encouraging their residents to catch up to South Orange, so don’t let them take the lead. We’ve got this!

In solidarity and safety,

Sheena C. Collum
Village President

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COVID-19 Update (March 26, 2020)
Ten COVID-19 Positive Test Cases in South Orange, Message from Village President Collum 

Neighbors:

Our community now has 10 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Additionally, there are 615 confirmed cases in Essex County and 4,500 in New Jersey — which is second only to New York (33,000) in terms of statewide cases within the country.

Because of the lack of testing available, it’s tough for any town to draw statistical conclusions at this point. While our number may appear low, please don’t let this create a false sense of security. I, along with the Board of Trustees, continue to urge everyone to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary travel and interactions to the greatest extent possible.

Latest News

  • Essex County opened its first drive-through test site today at Weequahic Park in Newark. Appointments can be made by visiting EssexCOVID.org or calling 973-324-9950. The screenings are being offered free to Essex County residents only who are symptomatic of COVID-19. This means anyone wishing to be tested must meet specific testing criteria, which includes a fever of at least 99.6 degrees and respiratory symptoms of shortness of breath.
  • The South Orange & Maplewood School District has extended its distance learning through Friday, April 17, 2020. All district facilities are closed, and all extracurricular, registration, athletic, and social activities are postponed/canceled until further notice.
  • The State of New Jersey has developed a Jobs and Hiring Portal to match talent with opportunities in industries on the front lines of serving New Jerseyans during the outbreak. Essential businesses across the state need thousands of workers for immediate hire.

South Orange Specific

On Wednesday, we announced the launch of South Orange COVID-19 Info Portal. Thanks to our friends at 4Elbows (Priscilla and Jamie Goldman), we were able to provide a central hub of information for our residents that features information about local government services, frequently asked questions, a directory of local businesses that are open, opportunities for the public to donate or get involved, and additional resources that may help the community navigate this very difficult time.

  • Keep your money local. Our small business community is struggling right now, and they need our help and commitment to shop local. Our Business Directory features Take Out & Delivery, Available Shopping, and Wellness and Services. Help spread the word using #SOMAOpenforBiz
  • Get Involved. Give Back. Our South Orange Community Support Page highlights a variety of ways you can safely get involved to support our most vulnerable residents and help those who are on the front line of protecting healthcare workers. Almost $42,000 has been raised in less than two weeks to help food-insecure families and seniors. Volunteers are literally sewing masks as per guidance from local hospitals to help fill the void from a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). A Facebook Group, SOMA Squad, is delivering items to those who cannot get out, and as of last night, there is now a SOMA NJ 3D Printers Alliance of local tech gurus who are creating face visors for healthcare professionals.

While these are all incredible acts of generosity and kindness, the single biggest contribution you can make to our efforts to combat the spread of the Coronavirus is to stay at home and always, maintain 6 feet of distance between you and others when you absolutely must go out. Continue to wash your hands (20 seconds), and don’t touch your face.

I know these times are incredibly difficult and can cause a great deal of stress. You need to remember that you are not alone. Please take advantage of the numbers provided below.

  • Crisis Text Line: Test ‘NJ” to 741741
  • Family Helpline: 1-800-843-5437
  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-572-7233
  • Mental Health Hotline: 866-202-4357

In solidarity and safety (at a minimum of 6 feet)

Sheena C. Collum
Village President

 PS: Please don’t forget to complete Census online at 2020census.gov using the code you received in the mail.

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COVID-19 Update (March 25, 2020)
Essex County Opens Drive-Through Testing Site in Newark

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., Freeholder President Brendan Gill and Vice President Wayne Richardson announced that Essex County will be opening a drive-through testing site for Essex County residents who are symptomatic of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Essex County Weequahic Park in Newark. The site will open on Thursday, March 26th and Saturday, March 28th when 100 tests per day will be administered; it will then be open next week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday when 150 tests per day will be administered each day. The testing site is for Essex County residents; appointments are mandatory. Residents must arrive by car.

“The most effective way that elected officials and public health professionals can get a handle on how far reaching COVID-19 has become is to test residents for the virus,” DiVincenzo, Gill and Richardson said in a joint statement. “These screenings are in high demand and we ask for the public’s cooperation throughout this process. We encourage our residents to continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus and not place themselves in situations where they may be exposed,” they said.

The screenings are being offered to Essex County residents only who are symptomatic of COVID-19. This means anyone wishing to be tested musty meet specific testing criteria, which includes a fever of at least 99.6 degrees and respiratory symptoms of shortness of breath. Appointments will be scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those who do not meet the criteria will not receive an appointment. If you are exhibiting severe symptoms, please contact your local health care provider or local health department for guidance.

Residents can visit www.EssexCOVID.org, where they will be required to complete a short online screening process before an appointment is scheduled. Residents will be asked several health-related questions and detail any symptoms they have related to the coronavirus. Upon completion of the survey, they will be informed if they are eligible for the screening. If they are eligible, a confirmation number will be provided; residents must bring the confirmation number with them to their appointment.

If someone does not have internet access, they can register by calling the Essex County Office of Emergency Management at 973-324-9950. The call-in center will be open form 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. An operator will help them complete the initial survey and issue the confirmation number. Residents must bring the confirmation number with them to their appointment.

Tests are being offered free of charge to Essex County residents. Having health insurance is not a requirement. Follow up contact will be made to assess the continuing health of the person who completed the screening.

Medical personnel from RWJBarnabas Health System, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, University Hospital, Hackensack Hospital, Essex County Hospital and nurses from public schools in Essex County are staffing the testing sites and call-in center. Security at the site is being provided by the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and Newark Police Department.

Essex County will continue to administer the virus screening as long as supplies of test kits, gowns, facial masks and gloves last.

Residents can help stop the spread of Novel Coronavirus by washing their hands frequently, using hand sanitizer after touching hard surfaces, staying home if they feel sick, practicing social distancing and avoiding spending any time in crowds of people. Residents are also reminded to adhere to restrictions enacted by Governor Phil Murphy, which include a curfew between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and restrict their traveling unless it is absolutely necessary.

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COVID-19 Update (March 23, 2020)
South Orange Launches COVID-19 Info Portal

South Orange Village President Sheena Collum and Board of Trustees are pleased to announce the South Orange COVID-19 Info Portal which features information about local government services, frequently asked questions, a directory of local businesses that are open, opportunities for the public to donate or get involved, and additional resources that may help the community navigate this very difficult time.

“The website is a work in progress and we will continue to make updates accordingly,” said Collum. “I’d like to remind residents that the coronavirus is here in South Orange (5 positive test cases as of 3/23) and our best defense is a strong offense. We join Governor Murphy in advising all residents to stay at home and avoid all unnecessary travel and interactions to the greatest extent possible.”

Website: southorangecovid19.com

COVID-19 Info Site

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COVID-19 Update (March 21, 2020)
Governor Murphy Orders All Residents To Stay Home

Governor Phil Murphy has signed executive orders 107 & 108 on Saturday mandating that most of New Jersey’s 9 million residents are to stay home.

Per Executive Order 107, the only reasons that residents may leave the home are:

  • Obtaining goods or services from essential retail businesses.
  • Obtaining takeout food or beverages from restaurants, other dining establishments, or food courts.
  • Seeking medical attention, essential social services, or assistance from law enforcement or emergency services
  • Visiting family or other individuals with whom the resident has a close personal relationship, such as those for whom the individual is a caretakeror romantic partner.
  • Reporting to, or performing, their job.
  • Walking, running, operating a wheelchair, or engaging in outdoor activities with immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners while following best social distancing practices with other individuals, including staying six feet apart.
  • Leaving the home for an educational, religious, or political reason
  • Leaving because of a reasonable fear for his or her health or safety.
  • Leaving at the direction of law enforcement or other government agency.

When in public, individuals must practice social distancing and stay six feet apart whenever practicable, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners.

All gatherings are cancelled: Gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events, are cancelled, unless otherwise authorized by the Order (i.e. the activities mentioned above).  Through a separate Administrative Order, the Colonel of New Jersey State Police will make clear that gatherings of fewer than 10 people are presumed to comply with the Order, unless clear evidence indicates otherwise.  

All non-retail businesses are to close immediately:  All non-essential retail businesses, which were previously limited to between 5 am and 8 pm, must now close entirely (online delivery can continue). The list of essential retail businesses that can stay open is limited to the following:

  • Grocery and food stores, including retailers like Walmart/Target that sell food
  • Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries
  • Medical supply stores
  • Gas stations
  • Convenience stores
  • Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities
  • Hardware and home improvement stores
  • Banks and other financial institutions
  • Laundromats/dry-cleaning services
  • Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old
  • Pet stores
  • Liquor stores
  • Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics
  •  Printing and office supply shops
  • Mail and delivery stores

 Businesses are mandated to do telework/work-from-home: All businesses or non-profits in the State must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements.  If a business or non- profit has employees that must be on site, it shall reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure critical operations can continue.  Examples of employees who need to be present at their work site include: law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.

Recreational and entertainment businesses: All are closed. This is unchanged from what is currently in place but the order reiterates these prohibitions.

Restaurants and other dining establishments: All can remain open, but must continue to be delivery and/or takeout only. This is also unchanged.

Pre-K, K-12, and higher education: All continue to be closed to students. This is unchanged as well.

Blanket exceptions: Nothing in the order shall be construed to affect the operations of:

  • Health care or medical service providers
  • Access to essential services for low-income residents, including but not limited to food banks
  • The media
  • Law enforcement
  • The operations of the federal government or the movement of federal officials when operating in their official capacity

Timing: The order will go into effect at 9:00 pm on Saturday, March 21 to accommodate the end of the sabbath.  It will stay in effect until the Governor revokes or modifies it.

Executive Order 107
Executive Order 108

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COVID-19 Update (March 20, 2020)
Message from Village President Sheena Collum

To the South Orange Community:

Earlier today, our Office of Emergency Management announced the first two cases of South Orange residents who have tested positive for coronavirus and this afternoon, we received news of a third.   

I’m asking everyone to do better. In fact, I’m asking everyone to be exceptional in our efforts to “flatten the curve” and practice strict social distancing. Our best defense right now is an extremely aggressive offense.

I am recommending and urging that you stay home and avoid ALL unnecessary travel and interactions to the greatest extent possible. Remember, we are collectively responsible for, and accountable to, each other. 

I received a message last night from one of our residents who tested positive for coronavirus, and he has offered to share his story with you. I told him that we are here for him, that we are available to help in any way, and that he is in our thoughts and prayers. 

I hope you take a moment to read his words, better understand the severity of the situation, and be guided accordingly as you make decisions moving forward.

In solidarity and safety (remember, a minimum of 6 feet),

Sheena C. Collum
Village President


My Story: First South Orange Resident to Test Positive for Coronavirus

While it wasn’t my first choice for how to get my 15 minutes of fame, it looks like I have the dubious honor of being one of the first South Orange residents to test positive for COVID-19. 

I am a 51 year old man in relatively good health, with no major underlying conditions. On March 5, I saw my primary care physician with some tightness in my chest that had been present for a few weeks. After being on a steroid inhaler for a week, I woke up with more symptoms: a hacking cough and increased difficulty breathing. Given that I felt lousy and that my kids were with their other parent, I began self-isolating at home that morning. 

It’s important to say that prior to this, I maintained a normal schedule, meeting with several groups, small and large, across the state. All that time I felt “myself”—some chest junkiness but nothing noteworthy.

Upon beginning my self-imposed quarantine, I reached out to my general physician’s office and inquired about the possibility this might be COVID-19. Their reply was “most likely, no” after they asked the standard line of questioning at that point: Had I traveled to Italy, S. Korea, China? Had I been exposed to a lab-tested positive COVID-19 patient? 

I called everyone I could think to call that day: the State Coronavirus hotline (busy the entire time); the Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield 24/7 nurse help line (87 minutes waiting to get through, upon which point I was told I was not a likely case); the Atlantic Health Care COVID-19 line (hung up after being informed of the 117-minute wait time); and the St. Barnabas telemedicine line (the ER doctor was sympathetic, but admitted there were no tests available other than in ER departments and that I wouldn’t qualify).

I was put on medication on March 13 under the assumption that I had a viral, but not COVID-19, lung infection. 

In the end, working my networks (and privilege) got me into Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. An extremely helpful doctor authorized a test for me last Sunday night. They did the four nasal swabs (each nostril, one for coronavirus, one for flu) in the parking lot but then took me into an extremely full ER department. After a 4.5 hour wait, attended by an amazingly upbeat, efficient nursing and hospital staff, I was able to leave isolation with the “extreme probability that it is not COVID-19.” No fever, I was improving from the previous few days, and I tested positive for another virus, metapneumalvirus—two viruses, I learned, are very rarely found at the same time.

My results came back last night, 3/19, and to everyone’s surprise, they were positive. There was a lag from the time the test was processed, Monday, until last night when I got the phone call—I assume because of the backlog and scrambling in the labs and hospitals to keep up with the influx.

There are two key things I would highlight from this experience:

  1. Not all COVID-19 symptoms will be the same. Everyone talks about the fever; I never got one. Some who contract the virus will be asymptomatic or have only a little cough. This has serious implications for potential widespread community infection. Please stay as isolated/socially distanced as possible to help out our ER/hospital staff, home health workers, and older and immunocompromised folks. 

  2. ER departments and their nurses, doctors, cleaning staff, etc. are all under intense pressure right now. I saw this a week ago in Teaneck and have been thinking about ways to help. Fruit baskets and cards might be nice; even better, maybe we can find some way to donate those extra masks and gloves some of us bought “just in case” but which are now desperately needed at area health facilities.

I will be ordering out from my favorite local Chinese and pizza takeout places; they can leave it on the front stoop while I pay by credit card. I’m also paying the amazing women who pick up my kids from school and clean my house to help them survive…even while asking them to please stay away and keep themselves safe. I hope those of you able to do the same will help pick up that slack. Thanks to our public health department, government workers, grocery checkout folks, police/fire/EMTs, and especially our ER staff. You all are the real heroes right now. 

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COVID-19 Update (March 20, 2020)
Two South Orange Residents Test Positive for Coronavirus

As the Village continues to monitor the Coronavirus, we have been informed that South Orange has two residents who are confirmed coronavirus cases. The confirmed residents are a 34-year-old male and a 51-year-old male.  Neither are currently hospitalized. The Village President is working closely with the South Orange Department of Health and Office of Emergency Management as we manage this situation per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protocols.

The residents’ recent contact histories are being investigated by the Health Officer and anyone who has potentially been exposed is being contacted. Those who have been in contact with the infected residents will be contacted by a health professional.

Per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), we will not be releasing any additional information on the infected residents at this time.

As the cases in New Jersey continue to grow, its most important that we continue to follow all CDC guidelines and practice social distancing. The positive cases in our community only reinforces the fact that we need to take this situation seriously and work on a local level to reduce exposure to our neighbors.

We ask that residents continue to check southorange.org/COVID-19 for updates. If there is additional information that we can release, we will do so as soon as we can.

For additional information on COVID-19, residents who have not registered with the Village’s SO Alert emergency notification system are encouraged to do so at: http://www.southorange.org/610/SO-Alerts

A state hotline regarding COVID-19 is also currently available.  Speak to a healthcare professional at 1-800-222-1222 or 1-800-962-1253.  For general information, testing, & basic needs, dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211.  For alerts/updates, text NJCOVID to 898-211

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed due to COVID-19, New Jersey has a Mental Health Helpline.  Please call 877-294-HELP (4357) or visit their website for emotional support, guidance and mental health referrals as needed.

We are all in this together and we remind residents to practice patience and understanding as we continue to deal with this crisis.

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COVID-19 Update (March 19, 2020)
Drive-Through Site Announced, Personal Care Shops Closed, County Parks Closed

  • Governor Phil Murphy has announced that a drive-through testing site would begin in Bergen County on 3/20/2020 at 8:00 am at Bergen Community College, located at 400 Paramus Road, Lots B & C 400, Paramus, New Jersey 07652.  The testing site, established in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will be staffed by the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey State Police, and the New Jersey National Guard.

    Beginning on Friday, March 20, the drive-through testing center will be open seven days per week, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  In order to be eligible for testing, individuals must be current New Jersey residents and experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness. Priority will be given to symptomatic individuals experiencing cough, fever (99.6 degrees or above) and shortness of breath.

    Individuals who are not symptomatic will not be tested, as it diverts critical resources such as testing kits and laboratory materials from those who are ill. Each site will be provided with an allocation of 2,500 specimen collection kits and Personal Protective Equipment for all staff.  The specimen collections will be transmitted to the contracted laboratory twice per day and results will be reported within 2-5 business days.  Testing is free and will be covered by the federal government or personal insurance company. Individuals are encouraged to bring insurance cards if they have one.

  • Nearby Urgent Care Facilities are accepting walk-ins: 
    • The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care of West Caldwell
      556 Passaic Ave, West Caldwell, NJ 07006
      (973) 808-2273
    • CityMD Urgent Care - Newark
      617 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102
      (862) 201-4596

    • CityMD Urgent Care – East Hanover
      399 Route 10, East Hanover, NJ 07936
      (908) 557-9808

  • Other "walk-in" facilities near Essex County include Holy Name Medical Center (201-833-3000, Hudson Regional Hospital (201-388-1097) and Riverside Medical Group (for current patients only - 201-865-2050)

  • Per Governor Murphy, Barber shops, hair salons, spas, and nail/eyelash salons, and massage establishments must be closed as of 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 19, 2020 and remain closed until further notice.

  • All County parks and parks facilities, athletic fields, playgrounds, golf courses, Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Arena, Environmental Center and Riker Hill Art Park are CLOSED at least until Friday, March 27th.

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COVID-19 Update (March 18, 2020)
Seton Hall Employee Tests Positive, Students Being Sent Home, Classes To Be Remote Only

As the Village continues to monitor the Coronavirus, we now have learned that a female Seton Hall University employee has tested positive for the virus. This employee does not reside in South Orange and the University is working with her hometown’s local health department regarding recent contact history.

Per Seton Hall, the employee was last on campus March 10, 2020.  It is believed the risk of exposure to other members of the campus community is low, according to health authorities.

The South Orange Department of Health and Seton Hall University’s Health Services have gathered the appropriate information from the individual and are contacting anyone who may need to be interviewed.

Per the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), we will not be releasing any additional information on the infected resident at this time.

Seton Hall has cancelled all remaining in-person Spring 2020 semester classes and are sending students home, effective March 21.  Classes will resume remotely.

As the cases in New Jersey continue to grow, it’s most important that we continue to follow all CDC guidelines and practice social distancing. This positive case in our community only reinforces the fact that we need to take this situation seriously and work on a local level to reduce exposure to our neighbors.

We ask that residents continue to check southorange.org/COVID-19 for updates. If there is additional information that we can release, we will do so as soon as we can. We are all in this together and we remind residents to practice patience and understanding as we continue to deal with this crisis.

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COVID-19 Update (March 17, 2020)
Message from Village President Sheena Collum

March 17, 2020

Neighbors and Business Owners:

While I continue to be proud of the generosity of so many in our community and the collective steps we’re all taking to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, I’d also like to address the more sensitive topics of panic-buying and price gouging.

Panic Buying: We’re all feeling anxious right now, but we need to do a little better to make sure everyone has access to essential food and supplies, particularly our most vulnerable populations. The Center for Disease Control recommends that an individual or family shop for a two-week supply of food and other essentials. When someone chooses to stockpile items beyond this recommended amount, it ultimately means another consumer may not have what they need in the immediate term. Globally, supermarkets are taking steps to prevent shortages and prioritize the elderly and other vulnerable customers by adjusting hours and even rationing items. 

Special Accommodations for Seniors: On the local level, the South Orange Stop & Shop has announced that beginning March 19, it will open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. for customers ages 60 years and older only. Also, Ashely Marketplace is offering free home delivery to all seniors. Call (973) 762-5200 to place your phone order, and they will arrange a delivery window.

As a reminder, any senior who needs assistance is encouraged to contact Cathy Rowe, SOMA Two Towns for All Ages Coordinator, at (973) 558-0863 or soma2towns@gmail.com

Price Gouging: The overwhelming majority of our business community in South Orange has been incredible, selfless and proactive in addressing social distancing procedures. However, I have received complaints of price gouging, and we are taking these complaints very seriously. 

New Jersey’s price gouging law prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency and for 30 days after its termination. Excessive price increases are defined as “any price that exceeds 10 percent of the price for which the product or service was sold during the normal course of business.”

Anyone who believes they’ve seen a case of price gouging can contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6240 or file complaints online by visiting the Division’s website.

Donate: South Orange and Maplewood continue to raise funds to support seniors and families. Please consider making a donation to help our efforts to support those who need our assistance most.

In solidarity and safety (remember, a minimum of 6ft),


Sheena C. Collum
Village President

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Governor Phil Murphy Announces Aggressive Social Distancing Measures  (March 16, 2020)

Gov. Phil Murphy said New Jerseyans should not leave their homes between 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

  • All gatherings of persons in the State of New Jersey shall be limited to 50 persons or fewer, with limited exceptions; 
  • All public, private, and parochial preschool programs, and elementary and secondary schools, including charter and renaissance schools, will be closed beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and remain closed as long as the Order remains in effect;
  • Institutions of higher education will cease all in-person instruction beginning on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, and shall cease such in-person instruction as long as the Order remains in effect; 
  • The Commissioner of Education shall continue working with each public, private, and parochial school to ensure students are able to continue their education through appropriate home instruction;
  • The Secretary of Agriculture and the Commissioner of Education shall take all necessary actions to ensure all students eligible for free or reduced meals will continue to receive the services necessary to meet nutritional needs during closures; 
  • All casinos, concert venues, nightclubs, racetracks, gyms, fitness centers and classes, movie theaters, and performing arts centers will be closed to the public beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. and remain closed as long as this Order remains in effect; 
  • All other non-essential retail, recreational, and entertainment businesses must cease daily operations from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m.
  • All restaurant establishments, with or without a liquor or limited brewery license, are limited to offering delivery and/or take out-services only.

Governor Murphy and New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton have announced that due to the COVID-19 outbreak and to protect the public, the MVC will extend expiration dates for driver licenses, registrations, and inspection stickers. 

Effective immediately, the NJMVC will grant a two-month extension for:

  • Driver licenses expiring in March, April, and May
  • Registrations expiring in March, April, and May 
  • Inspection stickers expiring in March, April, and May

Download the Executive Order

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COVID-19 Update (March 15, 2020)
Message from Village President Sheena Collum

March 15, 2020

Neighbors:

In the past few days, I have witnessed the generosity of people who are delivering food and donating funds to our vulnerable populations. I have seen many of our businesses take drastic and necessary measures to implement safety precautions to protect their customers ranging from virtual classes to curbside delivery. I’m also following the various advocacy efforts of our neighbors who are tracking and commenting on legislative bills that will provide relief to individuals and businesses who may be financially decimated by the coronavirus. You’re all really stepping up!

But to me, the most impressive actions have been those of personal sacrifice and extreme behavior modification in committing to “social distancing”. These are the folks who have remained at home either alone or with their immediate family and greatly adjusted their lifestyle to be one of necessity versus convenience. I, along with my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, salute you and are doing the same.

As a reminder, the Center for Disease Control defines social distancing as it applies to COVID-19 as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance, approximately 6 feet, from others when possible."

That is our goal, 6 feet.

As for those who believe the rest of us are overreacting and have no interest in behavior modification, I am now speaking to you directly.

  • The coronavirus does not have a cure and is disproportionately deadlier to our older adults.
  • Our healthcare system does not have the bed capacity or a fraction of the medical supplies (i.e. respirators) we need to support an unmitigated coronavirus outbreak. This why we all must contribute to “flattening the curve”.
  • Wake up, it’s here! This virus started 7,000+ miles away and it’s now in our backyard. While there are still no confirmed cases in South Orange, there are now eleven (11) cases in Essex County including one in our sister town of Maplewood.

I am urging all South Orange community stakeholders to take this global pandemic seriously and wise up now. We are collectively responsible for each other.

In addition to the measures announced on March 13, 2020 when a State of Emergency was declared, please be advised of the following updates effective immediately:

Public Parks and Recreation

  • All public playgrounds are closed and are being fenced.
  • Fields are not open to the public for group activities.
  • The Basketball Court is closed. 

Transportation

  • Jitney service is suspended for both commuters and seniors.

Businesses

  • We are urging residents to avoid situations where safe, social distancing can’t be maintained (remember, a minimum of 6ft).
  • We continue to encourage residents to patronize our local businesses by using delivery or takeout.
  • We continue to encourage residents to purchase gift cards! It’s never too early to shop for special occasions. Look local first, we need that commitment now more than ever before.
  • All restaurants who choose to keep their dining rooms open will be required to limit the number of dining patrons to 50% of capacity and to maintain 6 feet of distance between each patron group seating.

Parking Enforcement

  • The South Orange Parking Authority and South Orange Police Department will be utilizing “courtesy/light enforcement” for the time being. We all recognize the flexibility we need right now to better support access to curbside pick-up and deliveries in appreciation for our businesses that are adapting to social distancing norms (remember, a minimum of 6ft).

We will continue to apprise the community of updates in a timely fashion. We are currently preparing a “virtual town hall” which will be announced shortly.

Lastly, South Orange and Maplewood are pleased to announce that two municipality-sponsored funds have been established to support seniors and families. Please consider making a donation.

In solidarity and safety (remember, a minimum of 6ft),


Sheena C. Collum
Village President

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State of Emergency Declared in South Orange
Message from Village President Sheena Collum

March 13, 2020

To the South Orange Community:

I need your help, patience and guidance as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 which was declared a pandemic earlier this week by the Word Health Organization (WHO).

While this is significant, we know of no South Orange residents with a confirmed case of this virus to date. Nonetheless, epidemiologists predict the virus will continue to spread, putting some of our most vulnerable neighbors at risk, which is why we must work together to take proactive precautionary measures to “flatten the curve.”

CDC CurveGraphic shows how the implementation of social distancing and other protective actions can slow the spread of a novel disease, like COVID-19, and ensure the demand on the medical system is balanced over time.

I’m sure many of you have seen the graphic from the Center for Disease Control and the message is very simple: we all need to make modifications to our daily routine, particularly utilizing “social distancing,” so we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system. While this will cause an inconvenience to many, I hope you will agree it is a necessary strategy to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community.

As such, I have officially declared a State of Emergency effective March 13, 2020 at 6pm. 

All municipal offices and facilities will be closed to the public until March 31 unless noted differently below. At this time, our staff will remain available through phone, email and our website SouthOrange.org. While we are limiting in-person interactions with staff, they are prepared and eager to continue serving residents in a safe way.

At this time, I’m asking community organizations to limit holding large gatherings and functions for the time being. All organizations and businesses in town are encouraged to be taking extra precautions. The EPA has released a list of Registered Antimicrobial Products for use against COVID-19.

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Government Services:

  • All Board of Trustee, Board of Adjustment, and Planning Board meetings can be viewed online. Residents who do not attend and are watching online can submit comments and questions for public comments by e-mailing:

  • Administration will still be available through phone and e-mail.

  • The Tax Assessor will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. Any in-person consultations will need to wait until after March 31.
  • Building Department/Code Enforcement will be accepting permits and applications via e-mail and the United State Postal Service. No inspections will be conducted for the remainder of March. Permits and payments can be dropped off in a secure location in Village Hall.
  • Clerk’s Office encourages residents to utilize their online forms for most services. Appointments can be made for Marriage License Application (forms available online, but in-person application required), Vital Records Application (there is a procedure for applying via USPS), Raffle (Games of Chance) Application, and Liquor License Renewals and Transfers.
  • Engineering/Zoning will be accepting permits and applications via e-mail and the United State Postal Service. No on-site consultations will be conducted until after March 31.
  • The Department of Health and Animal Control will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. Any in-person consultations will need to wait until after March 31. Animal Control issues should be directed to St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. Pet licenses can be sent in via the USPS.
  • The South Orange Public Library will be closed until March 28, at which time the situation will be assessed.
  • The South Orange Performing Arts Center has suspended performances until April 17 at which point a determination will be made whether additional rescheduling or cancellations will be necessary
  • The Office of Emergency Management will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail.
  • The Parking Authority will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. The department encourages residents to utilize their online services. There will be no disruption to Jitney Services or the Senior Bus at this time.
  • The Department of Public Works will continue to provide its traditional street services. However, the recycling center will be closed until further notice. All communication with residents will be made through phone and e-mail.
  • The Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs has postponed all programs, meeting and events such as: adult softball, youth baseball, tae kwon do, umpire trainings, coaching clinics, Rutgers coaching clinic, USSI tennis programming, adult soccer, Jaguar track registration, South Mountain Soccer, naturalization ceremony, spring break baseball camps, baseball parade, senior circle meetings, and a swim team meeting. Please reach out to the department for information on enrollment.
  • The Tax Collector will continue communication with residents through phone and e-mail. The department encourages residents to pay tax and sewer bills online. There will also be a drop box located in 76 South Orange Avenue, Suite 302 for payments.

Schools:

Support Local

Local Business Support:
Some things we can do to help our small business community at this time:

  • Think local first – When planning your shopping and dining needs please remember to think locally and support our small businesses. The majority of your needs can be met through your local retailers, restaurants and services.
  • Call and ask - Many local businesses are implementing new practices and procedures to keep their customers and staff safe and healthy. Don’t be afraid to call and ask businesses about what changes they have made. Some examples:

    • Increased cleaning
    • Cashless payment methods
    • Curbside pickup and delivery
    • Disposable plates and utensils
    • Video platforms for class based instructional businesses
    • Some restaurants are now offering take-out for the first time
  • Follow SOVCA - on Facebook and IG for the latest updates. They’ll be working to keep you posted on business updates. @SoVillageCenter
  • Buy Gift Cards - go to your favorite locally-owned small business and buy a gift card (or get it online if possible). Buy it directly from the business, so they get the use of your money for a month or two. Then when things have settled down, treat yourself and someone special to an evening out with your certificate!
  • Utilize Local Online Shopping - Many local businesses have online shopping. Think about buying your purchases there instead of from large online portals.
  • Other ideas – Think about your local services who might not be a priority right now. For example, dry cleaners are experiencing a downturn as everyone starts working from home. Perhaps you have some household items that could be dropped off.
  • Spread the word – when talking with friends and neighbors please remind them to consider our local businesses. If you are part of a local support group, remind them to look local first.
  • Reach out to the South Orange Village Center Alliance during this time with any questions or suggestions you might have. info@sovillagecenter.org | 973-763-6899

Basics

Back to The Basics:
We want to remind residents that the public risk of infection is currently low. There have only been four recorded cases in Essex County at this time. However, in order to keep the risk low, residents can do some easy, but important, things to help combat the spread of the disease:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Cough and squeeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands.
  • Clean frequently touched objects and surfaces using a disinfecting spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer.

The virus can be caught by people of all ages, however, it is most prevalent in the older population and in people who have serious chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick.

Citizens infected with COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Residents who feel like they have these symptoms should make appointments with their healthcare providers.

Residents who feel ill are advised to stay home and avoid public areas and public transportation. While this may be inconvenient, self-quarantining can help save not just your life, but others that you interact with.

In closing, I’d like to thank all of our dedicated employees and the community at-large for your patience, understanding and commitment to each other during this time. It is not lost upon me how individuals are mobilizing to assist in a variety of ways (I see you SOMA Squad). It has been my experience that when challenging times arise, we see the best in our community.

In solidarity,

Sheena Collum
South Orange Village President

Additional Resources: