Coronavirus: Stay informed – stay safe

Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling & Joann Downey

Information is power when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from the spread of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19). To empower our residents, we have collected resources and information regarding COVID-19 to keep you and your family up-to-date on the situation in New Jersey.

First, NJBPU has confirmed that, in cooperation with our utility companies, all utility shut-off orders have been voluntarily and universally suspended for the time being.

Next, all Motor Vehicle Commission agencies and road testing facilities will be closed until March 30. As such, all residents who have a driver’s license, auto registration, or vehicle inspection is due for renewal by May 31 will receive an automatic two-month extension. For example, if you have an April 30 expiration date, you now have until June 30.

As we are sure you know, Governor Phil Murphy declared a State of Emergency to strengthen New Jersey’s ability to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, triggering a price-gouging ban, expediting the delivery of necessary goods and services, and empowering State agencies to address this public health hazard. Meanwhile, the CDC called upon residents and organizations to cancel all public gatherings of 50 people or more for at least the next eight weeks in order to reduce exposure.

Practicing social distancing – avoiding crowds and keeping a safe distance of at least six feet when talking to people – will reduce your exposure.

If you think you have COVID-19, stay home and call your primary care provider for advice. New Jersey has waived consumer cost-sharing for all medically necessary COVID-19 testing and services related to testing, and it is vital that any person who believes they may be sick with COVID-19 be tested in order to limit this virus’ spread.

If you suspect you are sick with COVID-19, please stay home. Avoid public areas and public transportation, including ride-sharing or taxis. As much as possible, stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, if possible, use a separate bathroom. Patients with confirmed COVID-19 should remain home until the risk of transmitting the virus to others is low and they are told by a healthcare professional it is alright to go out. If you have a medical appointment, call ahead and tell your healthcare provider you have or may have COVID-19. This will help their office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed.

If you have general questions about COVID-19, you can call the New Jersey Department of Health’s public call line at 1-800-222-1222; however, if you are using an out-of-state cell phone, you should use 1-800-962-1253 instead.

Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Census Bureau is continuing to mail forms for the 2020 Census. The census is vital for determining New Jersey’s representation in Congress as well as federal funding and other resources for our schools, health clinics, fire departments, infrastructure, and many other critical programs. You can learn more and complete the census online at www.2020census.gov.

To avoid exposure to COVID-19 in crowded polling places, you also can apply online for an absentee ballot to vote in New Jersey’s 2020 primary. Please consider voting by mail to ensure that your voice is heard at the polls. New Jersey residents can learn more and print an application for a vote-by-mail ballot online at njelections.org.

While we have closed our Legislative District 11 offices until at least March 31 as a precaution, our staff continues to work remotely and will do their best to respond to your emails and phone messages as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email us at AsmHoughtaling@njleg.org or AswDowney@njleg.org and follow us at @NJDistrict11 on Facebook for day-to-day updates and information. You can also contact our office by phone at (732) 695-3371.

By staying informed, remaining calm and following the advice of medical and health professionals, we will get through the COVID-19 health emergency. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Together, we will get through this.