New Jersey's 21st Legislative District

Senator Tom Kean, Jr.

Senator Tom Kean

Meeting the COVID-19 Challenge: Caution, Compassion, Cooperation

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Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean issued the following statement regarding COVID-19:

Sen. Republican Leader Tom Kean issued the following statement regarding COVID-19. (CDC)

The announcement of more COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, including one in my own legislative district, has reminded many New Jerseyans of the uncertainties we face as a result of this emergent public health emergency. It also a good time to remind ourselves that New Jersey has the heart, the talent and the spirit to rise above the confusion and concerns, just as we did post-Superstorm Sandy.

We start by seeking out fact-based information and by ensuring that we, in turn, help promote clarity through the sharing of accurate communications with others as well. There is an array of valuable resources available by phone or online that one can easily access; there is no need to rely on social media or hear-say.

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) is available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222. You can speak with a trained healthcare professional about any concerns including symptoms, testing and what it means to self-quarantine. You can also reach out to your local health departments. Additional information about prevention and preparation can be obtained from the NJ Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Everyone should be prepared for the fact that new cases will be confirmed as testing increases. Closures and other inconveniences may become inevitable in the short-term. Many businesses have already moved to working remotely and some schools are doing “trial runs” in advance of possible closings. The NJ Department of Education is working closely with school systems, K-12, and higher education to assist them in this effort. The Legislature has pledged to support the NJDOE and our school districts to ensure that every child can continue to learn in the safest way possible.

Last night, Governor Murphy issued Executive Order 103, declaring both a State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency across New Jersey, effective immediately. The declaration simply allows the governor to better organize, prioritize and allocate resources, including money and staff. It is also a required step to receive financial assistance from the federal government, which just appropriated $8.3 billion to be used in efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak. The Public Health Emergency empowers the State Director of Emergency Management, in conjunction with the Commissioner of DOH, to coordinate a relief effort with all governmental agencies, volunteer organizations, and the private sector.

Finally, there is the opportunity now to ask what we can all do to be an effective part of the response to this emergency. This is the perfect time to be a good neighbor, friend, family member and reach out and check in on the elderly, home-bound or others who may need supplies, a prescription refill or even, reassurance.

Many of us read the social media post issued Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Toronto in Canada, who publicly implored, “Temper fear with reason, panic with patience and uncertainty with education.”

These are good words to take to heart right now. “Jersey Strong” means meeting this current challenge head-on with an abundance not only of caution, but also with compassion and cooperation.

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