The COVID-19 Pandemic, One Year Later
Today marks one year since the first positive case of COVID-19 was reported in New Jersey. 365 days have passed, and many things are different. Technology has not only assisted in our communication with loved ones, but virtual meetings have replaced in-person embraces, celebrations, and grieving ceremonies. In public, we limit our proximity to others and wear masks. We clean our hands vigorously to such an extent that flu cases are at an all-time low and liquor companies have started producing hand-sanitizer. Many, who are lucky enough to have employment, have had to juggle the work-from-home atmosphere while perhaps also homeschooling their kids. Others have lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis accompanying the public health one. There have been over 700,000 New Jerseyans that have tested positive for the virus, many who have dealt with complications, and unfortunately, over 21,000 New Jerseyans have died from COVID-19.
There is no doubt that this year has taken a toll on all of us in some way or another. We have lived and continue to live through unprecedented times.
2020 (and probably 2021) will forever be marked by social distancing, hand sanitizer and masks… but also change, confusion, uncertainty, fear, loss, and all kinds of struggle. Despite all of the challenges that the world, our country, and community have endured, over the last year, the Mendham Township community came together like never before. We supported each other and accomplished some truly remarkable things.
Over the last year, many residents offered to assist their elderly neighbors, cook meals for our first responders, organize online fundraisers, and donate personal protective equipment to our healthcare workers. These incredible acts of kindness have given us so much hope in the face of this pandemic - hope that is much needed as our families, community, and businesses are doing everything they can to survive.
On March 13th, 2020, Mendham Township became one of the first towns in the state to proclaim a local State of Emergency and take immediate action to address COVID-19. Since that day, Mendham Township’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) has done everything in its power to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Mendham Township. While other towns were trying to figure out what to do in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, this group did everything they could to educate themselves, inform each other, ask questions, challenge the status quo, and share best practices so that Mendham Township could be in the best possible position to protect its residents, employees, and volunteers, keep our students learning, operate during the crisis, and find creative ways to bring joy to our community.
Instead of saying “no” to any idea, this group consistently asked, “How can we make this happen?” In addition to operating Mendham Township’s departments and supporting our community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the LEPC brought many smiles to residents’ faces, even under the worst of circumstances and hardships - the Mother’s Day Parade, Easter Bunny Parade, July 4th Parade, Santa Parade, many birthday and teachers’ parades, the set-up and lighting of our Township’s Christmas Tree and Menorah, and the July 4th Fireworks to name a few.
We are so incredibly lucky to have this group of people serving our community. They combine the best of professionalism and compassion and, over the last year, they are the glue that has kept us together.
The 2020 & 2021 Mendham Township Local Emergency Planning Committee includes:
Police Chief Ross Johnson, Police Lieutenant Steven Bittman, Captain of the First Aid Squad George Budd, 2020 Mendham Township Fire Department and 2020 Brookside Engine Company No. 1 Fire Chief Nicholas Witczak, 2021 Mendham Township Fire Department and Ralston Fire Company No. 1 Fire Chief Tom Montgomery, 2021 Brookside Engine Company No. 1 Fire Chief Eric Cooper, 2020 & 2021 Brookside Engine Company No. 1 Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Sauerman, Director of the Office of Emergency Management Evan Thomas (Buzzy), Superintendent of the Department of Public Works David Read Jr., Assistant Superintendent of the Department of Public Works Joe Guanill, Interim Mendham Township Administrator Bob Casey, Mendham Township Clerk Maria Coppinger, Director of Recreation David Guida, Superintendent of the Mendham Township School District Salvatore Constantino, Superintendent of the West Morris Regional School District Michael Ben-David, the Morris County Department of Health, 2020 & 2021 Mayor Sarah Neibart, and 2020 & 2021 Deputy Mayor Nick Monaghan.