Camden County's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will be delivering approximately 25,000 pieces of assorted personal protective equipment (PPE) - including protective gowns, N-95 masks, surgical masks, protective gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer - from its inventory to local OEMs who will then distribute directly to 18 long-term care facilities in Camden County. According to Freeholder Jon Young, last week the County Health Department took over inspections of 56 long-term care facilities from the state in order to audit and inspect operations. "One of the first things to become clear upon our initial audits was a severe shortage of PPE."
While a safe, effective vaccine is still more than a year away, researchers are rushing to repurpose existing drugs and non-drug therapies as well as testing promising experimental drugs that were already in clinical trials. More than 70 vaccine are also in development around the world, with at least five in preliminary testing in people - one in Seattle and one in China. Reuters offers a look at some of the experimental drugs, vaccines and other therapies currently in development.
Mayor Brennan provided an update to the community about the Covid-19 status in the Borough. He reminded residents that Merchantville's parks, sports fields and the multi-use path are all closed at this time and while he feels and understands the frustration with these closures and desire to exercise it continues to be necessary. He thanked everyone for their cooperation. He noted that additional testing sites are now available and this has lead to a corresponding increase in positive cases in our neighboring communities of Cherry Hill and Camden. The mayor informed residents that the Primary election has been moved to July 7th and encouraged anyone concerned about on-site voting to apply for vote by mail through the county. He assured residents that he and Council are working with their partners in government, faith based groups and our schools to support businesses and obtain the resources that our community needs.
New Jersey health officials have been reporting statewide totals and providing a county-by-county breakdown, but some county and municipal health departments have been providing additional detail, including town-by-town case numbers. As of 4/10/20 Merchantville has 9 Covid-19 positive cases. Our adjoining towns are Cherry Hill with 181 cases and 4 deaths, Camden with 162 cases and 3 deaths and, Pennsauken with 93 cases and 1 death. Nearby are Collingswood with 17 cases, Haddon Township with 22 cases, Maple Shade with 29 cases, Cinnaminson with 23 and, Moorestown with 52 cases.
Mike Denardo from KYW Newsradio interviewed Randy Oakford from Aunt Charlotte's Candies yesterday to talk about how the pandemic is impacting this year's Easter sales. Oakford said 40 percent of the store's annual revenue normally comes at Easter and the need to "stay-at-home" resulted in laying off two-thirds of her 35-person staff. However, although the volume of sales are down, customers have been very loyal and they have been busier than ever filling phone orders for curbside pickup, local delivery, or shipping - even causing their phone system to crash early in the week when 276 calls came in at opening time.
As you may know, the CDC and federal guidelines may begin to require us to wear face masks anytime we go outside. Check out this quick video update from Dr. Gary Sapienza, from Leading Smiles in Merchantville, as he reviews ways to control the spread of Covid-19 infections, protection in the absence of testing and some of the common face mask options and alternatives that are available to you. He urges all of us to wear a mask to protect your neighbors first and yourself second. Stay healthy!
Effective 8:00 p.m. this evening Mayor Brennan closed Merchantville's public parks and spaces consistent with Governor Murphy's Executive Order 118, which was issued today and is part of the continuing effort of the Borough to help flatten the curve and took additional Covid-19 actions. The mayor recognizes that the closure of all parks, particularly the multi-use path will upset many, but we stand united with the State and Camden County in trying to do everything we can to get through this difficult time, encourage appropriate social distancing and urge residents to stay home. The next few weeks will be difficult and we are seeing a significant increase in cases and deaths in the County in the last few days. We must remain vigilant.
Two new technologies being deployed in New Jersey as part of the fight against the coronavirus could boost those testing numbers enormously if they can perform. One comes out of a Rutgers University research center that uses a laboratory technique to make millions of copies of the COVID-19 nucleic acid. It can perform 10,000 tests a day using high-throughput, automated equipment. But instead of using nasal and throat swabs to obtain viral material, the analysis can be performed on saliva samples obtained by spitting into a tube — a far easier way to collect samples without relying on health care workers. Saliva testing would be a new development and would allow testing without the need of a medical provider to take the sample. RUCDR has also submitted an emergency use authorization request for a saliva collection method that will allow for broader population screening. Another is a test developed by Abbott Laboratories that its makers say can detect the COVID-19 virus in as little as five minutes.
On April 2nd, Camden County's Department of Health announced 48 additional positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in our town to four (4). Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. reminded the public that “We all must remain vigilant, policing ourselves to stay at home, to avoid unnecessary trips, and to exercise social distancing to the greatest possible extent. We have seen this strategy work in other parts of the world that have fought back this virus, and if we do our part it will work here too." On Wednesday the County opened a new drive-up coronavirus (COVID-19) testing site Cooper’s Poynt Waterfront Park, 801 Delaware Avenue in Camden City. Hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 4 p.m. through April 15.
Mayor Ted Brennan delivered a message to the Merchantville community on Sunday, March 29th, thanking them for continuing to adhere to Governor Murphy's executive "stay at home" order, social distancing and traveling from home only for essential needs. He also provided an update on the current number of positive cases in the Borough, the need for blood donations and some volunteer opportunities to assist seniors through the County. In closing he stressed the importance of residents supporting our small businesses and their owners who have been so dramatically impacted by this pandemic. Mayor Brennan also reminded everyone to complete their Census 2020 this week.