Public Health Notice - Coronavirus COVID-19

The health of our community is important. Our Health Department has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and has implemented recommendations to help minimize the impact on our community. At this time the risk to the general public in New Jersey is low with no local (Mercer County) cases and 6 presumptive cases in the state. This is an evolving situation and as more information becomes available the recommendations may change.

Our Health Department has been communicating with town officials, first respondors, Princeton University, schools, local businesses, and residents to discuss steps to protect the community. This is an ongoing effort and will continue as the situation changes.

3-9-2020 Update:

Governor Murphy declared a State of Emergency and Public Health Emergency to help with the efforts to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This declaration empowers the Board of Health and Department of Health to extend their reach in implementing actions to prepare for and mitigate the impact the virus has on our community.

What have we done so far: 

  • Contacted travelers returning from affected areas to conduct risk assessments and conducted monitoring for a 14 day period following arrival in the U.S. This facet of the response is conducted with strict adherence to protocols established by the CDC and NJDOH.
  • Coordinated with school administrations and school nurses to review guidance materials and response activities. We have met with Mercer County Superintendents to discuss logistics of outbreak response and school dismissal scenarios.
  • Consulted with medical professionals upon request. The department has responded to requests 24/7 and will continue to be available.
  • Shared guidance and preparedness materials with public health partners within the community such as first responders, urgent care centers, childcare facilities, and faith based organizations.
  • Provided presentations to community groups on COVID-19 to increase awareness, promote prevention, discourage stigmatization and encourage preparedness.

Who is at a higher risk:

Based on the CDC guidelines, the following people are considered at a higher risk:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Pregnant women

Guidance for workplaces & businesses:

  • Urge employees to stay home when they are sick and maximize flexibility in sick leave benefits
  • Emphasize cough and sneezing etiquette and hand washing techniques to all employees
  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces and provide disposable disinfectant wipes so commonly used areas can be wiped down by employees
  • If possible, minimize close contact with large groups of people
  • Advise employees to take certain steps before traveling, check the CDC's Travelers Health Notice for updates

Community events considerations:

If possible, consider postponing large events and gatherings.

  • Urge anyone who is sick to stay home
  • Encourage those who are at a higher risk to not attend.
  • Promote daily practice of everyday preventative actions including covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often.
  • Check the CDC website for the most recent recommendations for large events and gatherings.

Guidance for schools:

We are not recommending closing schools at this time. The reason is that children have not been shown to be a high risk group for serious illness from this virus. Some children have underlying health conditions, such as weakened immune systems, that put them at higher risk. Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home.

  • Collaborate with local health officials and partners to ensure the schools Emergency Operating Plan is up to date.
  • Have students and staff practice preventative actions including proper hand washing, staying home when sick and covering their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Post information for staff about staying home when sick and how to avoid spreading germs at work.
  • Establish procedures for students and staff who are sick at school
  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, light switches, counter tops) with the cleaners typically used. Use all cleaning products according to the directions on the label.
  • Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (e.g., keyboards, desks, remote controls) can be wiped down by students and staff before each use.

If you are sick:

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as a cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately. If you are sick or suspect you are infected with the virus, take the following precautionary steps:

  • Stay home except to get medical help.
  • Separate yourself from others and pets in your home.
  • Call your doctor before going to the office.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean your hands often.
  • Do not share personal items and wash them thoroughly after using them.
  • Clean all touched surfaces daily.
  • Seek medical attention if your illness gets worse.

What to do if you are sick.

Guidance for the general public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Help prevent the spread of the virus and avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities or nursing homes if possible. If you need to visit one of these places try to limit your contact with people and stay at least 6 feet away from patients.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid going to the emergency room unless necessary. If you have symptoms such as a cough, fever or respiratory problems, call your doctor first.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.
  • Wash your hands frequently, with soap and water for 20 seconds. Sing Happy Birthday twice!
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
  • For the most up to date information check the CDC or NJ Department of Health websites. These websites are updated as the situation changes.

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