9-21: Eight new COVID Cases; Health Officer Updates Community on Pandemic; Healing Event Yesterday; Storm Debris Pickup Underway; Donations Accepted for Displaced Residents; Disaster Resources Available; Dead Tree Run Detour

Posted on September 21, 2021

COVID CASE SUMMARY

There have been eight (8) new cases of COVID-19 in Montgomery and Rocky Hill since our last report on Friday, 9-17-21.


MONTGOMERY HEALTH OFFICER UPDATES COMMUNITY ON PANDEMIC

By Stephanie D. Carey
Montgomery Township Health Officer

There’s a lot happening nationally and locally with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’d like to give you a summary with my department’s perspective.

The best news I can report is that the level of overall vaccination in Montgomery Township is excellent. Fully 95% of our adults are vaccinated, and so are 90% of our residents 12 and older.  Those are some of the best numbers you will find anywhere in the nation. And yet, we still have some vulnerability when you consider that close to 5,000 residents are not yet vaccinated, including about 3,000 children under 12 who are not yet eligible. That leaves the virus with room to spread.

That’s why we’re experiencing a bump-up in cases—19 cases last week, the most since early May, and eight more over the weekend.  Most of these cases are in family clusters and involve unvaccinated children.

The biggest priority right now should be getting our teenagers vaccinated, especially with school back in session. About one-third of teens 12 to 17 are eligible but not yet vaccinated. I urge the parents of those children to schedule a first Pfizer shot right away. Getting your teen vaccinated now is the best way to keep them in school and on the playing field.

Over the weekend we got the good news that trials of the Pfizer vaccine among 5- to 11-year-olds were successful, both in terms of efficacy and safety. We can be optimistic that the Food and Drug Administration will review these results and provide emergency use authorization soon.  Once that happens, we can really stomp out COVID-19 and get our lives back to normal.

The other big news over the weekend was a recommendation by an FDA advisory panel to endorse booster shots for people 65 and older who were vaccinated eight months ago or longer.  The Montgomery Health Department will start providing booster shots as soon as the FDA issues an official decision.

Meantime, we are already providing third shots to immunocompromised people based on a prior FDA approval.

The big picture is we are seeing a lot of success in our efforts against the virus in our community. But we still have some challenges remaining, and we all need to remain cautious and committed to protecting ourselves, our children, and our neighbors.


PANDEMIC HEALING EVENT LAST NIGHT


A candlelight vigil concluded last night’s event.

Residents of all ages contributed art and stories at a pandemic-inspired community event yesterday, Montgomery Together: Lighting the Way Forward, an Evening of Hope and Healing. The event was held at the Princeton Elks Lodge on Route 518 in Skillman and ended with a candlelight vigil at dusk to remember fellow residents lost to COVID-19.

“This event came out of a community leader meeting and a recommendation that we needed to process our grief together, as a community,” said Montgomery Deputy Health Officer Devangi Patel, an organizer of the event. “It was deeply meaningful to the large group of people who attended.”

“COVID affected us not only physically but mentally and emotionally. Events like these help heal and lift us up, and build connections within our community,” said Township Committeeperson Neena Singh, in remarks at the event. “The key to learning from the pandemic is the lessons it taught us, and to grow as a community from those experiences.”

The event featured paintings, drawings, videos, crafts, poetry, essays, etc., all inspired by the pandemic. Organizers are the Montgomery Township Health Department and Municipal Alliance, in partnership with the Montgomery Recreation Department, Princeton Elks Lodge, and Somerset County Department of Human Services.


LIMITED CURBSIDE IDA DEBRIS PICKUP THIS WEEK

The Montgomery Township Department of Public Works has received DEP approval and is picking up storm debris from residences most seriously impacted by the Hurricane Ida flooding.

Residents unable to address debris removal themselves are advised to fill out an Emergency Help Form on the township website indicating their situation. This is the last week these requests will be considered. Alternatively, call Montgomery’s storm Ida hotline at (908) 395-7991 and leave a message with your name, address, and phone number.

The Container Facility remains open through Saturday this week, 8am to 2pm, with coupons/fees waived for storm debris originating in Montgomery. Be prepared to prove residency when dropping off debris.


DONATIONS ACCEPTED FOR DISPLACED RESIDENTS

Montgomery Township is aware of at least 18 homes seriously damaged during Storm Ida, and these households remain the focus of township attention. Seven of them, so far, that have been condemned as uninhabitable. Some of the displaced families have school-aged children.

Residents wishing to donate recovery aid to residents impacted by Storm Ida may consider donating online to the Montgomery Charity Foundation or to the Princeton Elks Lodge 2129. Both organizations are coordinating with the township to identify families most in need of assistance.


DISASTER RESOURCES FOR RESIDENTS, BUSINESSES, NONPROFITS

Somerset County is part of a declared Federal Disaster area due to Hurricane Ida, meaning that Federal relief monies may be available to residents through the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster process.  Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

If you are facing a major loss, use the state portal to report damage and keep documentation, photos, and receipts. This should expedite reimbursement. Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. FEMA has created a webpage that includes New Jersey resources and assistance for families. If you wish to assist with the recovery efforts, visit FEMA’s Volunteer/Donate page.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority Board approved a disaster relief program that will provide grants between $1,000 and $5,000 to New Jersey businesses and non-profits with up to 50 employees that suffered physical damage as a result of Tropical Storm Ida and any additional flooding immediately thereafter. Landlords and home-based businesses are not eligible.

Governor Phil Murphy also announced a rideshare partnership with NJ 211, United Way Worldwide, Uber, and Lyft to provide access to free and discounted rides to New Jersey residents who lost a personal vehicle as a result of Tropical Storm Ida. For the next two weeks, New Jersey residents who lost a vehicle and need help accessing essential services can text NJIDARIDE to 898-211 to request a Lyft or Uber ride. Those without access to a smartphone can dial 2-1-1.

Local lists of recovery resources are available on the Montgomery Township and Somerset County websites.  Montgomery’s Office of Emergency Management has established a special hotline for Ida-related questions or concerns at (908) 395-7991. In addition, Montgomery Township is collecting requests for help with a range of extraordinary challenges via an Emergency Help Form on the township website.

Additional resources include these hotlines: NJ Mental Health 866-202-HELP, SAMSA Disaster Distress Hotline: 800-985-5990.


ROADWORK ON DEAD TREE RUN ROAD AND MILL POND ROAD

Dead Tree Run Road (between Bridgepoint Road and Mill Pond Road) and Mill Pond Road (between Dead Tree Run Road and Harlingen Road) were closed yesterday for planned roadwork.

Please follow the posted detour and note that the construction zone is in blue. Access will be maintained to residents who live in the work zone. Mill Pond Park will be accessible using Dead Tree Run Road from River Road. Accommodations will be made if River Road experiences a closure. Construction is expected to last 3-4 weeks on weekdays between 7 am and approximately 5 pm, weather depending. Please sign up for Nixle alerts for periodic updates.

The work does not involve the historic Mill Pond Bridge, as incorrectly reported in this ebulletin Friday.


CELEBRATE FALL HARVEST AT MONTGOMERY’S FARMS

It’s harvest season, and Montgomery’s farmers are busy!  Support our local farmers by shopping at their farm stands (many are open, find a list here), and by participating in harvest season events.

This coming weekend, Saturday September 25, Hidden Spring Lavender in Skillman is having their Alpaca Farmers Day Festival from 11 AM to 4 PM, with advance ticket purchase required. Call (609) 558-7034 or book online at:  https://hiddenspringlavender.com/