With April a time to celebrate the spring holiday season, the Ocean County Health Department is reminding faith-based community leaders to urge congregations to limit human interaction by observing the current ban of social gatherings as we try to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“The Governor’s Executive Order 107 is still in full force and calls for residents to stay home during Passover, Easter and Ramadan observances and refrain from social gatherings of any size until further notice,” says Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “We certainly understand the disappointment that many people within our faith-based communities will have as they looked forward to friend and family gatherings, parties and events for the April holidays. However, this is unprecedented times and we need everyone to do their part and adhere to the law.”
“Ocean County is a diverse county with citizens representing all religions. While we all recognize our holidays, we must adhere to the mandates of social distancing and no large gatherings at this time for everyone’s safety,” explains Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services and County Operations.
Health officials are asking religious leaders to offer congregations new and meaningful ways to observe services without gathering. Many faith-based groups have turned to technology with services being live streamed or televised. State and local police will continue to enforce the order that services, celebrations and meals must be limited to members who live in the same household.
New Jersey officials have asked us to reach out to our faith-based communities and leadership in an effort to remind people how important – especially during these festive times – to stay home and follow the social distancing guidelines,” advises Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator. “As much as we’d like to make an exception for the holidays it’s just not possible. I can’t stress enough how these measures can ultimately save lives.”
“Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable resource of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress and anxiety that may be caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” Little added. “In addition, these leaders can help us spread this important messaging regarding the current laws regarding social gatherings as we head into the heart of this joyous spring season.”
Let’s not forget the basics and remind people that the COVID-19 virus can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, including when an individual coughs or sneezes. These droplets may land on objects and surfaces and people can be asymptomatic to spread it.
Regenye went on to advise us that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. So getting together for any type of gathering, religious or otherwise, is not only in violation of the law but also an unwise choice when trying to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, visit www.ochd.org. The OCHD has also set up a COVID Information Call Line for residents and clinicians to answer questions regarding the coronavirus. The number is 732-341-9700 ext. 7411.
You can also call the NJDOH hotline available around the clock for questions at 1-800-222-1222 or dial 2-1-1.