FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders provided updates on COVID-19, Elections and CARES Act funding at a press conference held today.
“I know that there has been a lot of talk about the recent uptick in COVID cases in Monmouth County and I would like to shed some light on these cases and the reasons they are occurring,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “The Monmouth County Health Department’s (MCHD) case investigations have determined the bulk of exposures are from youth athletic facilities, school sports practices and gatherings that occurred during Labor Day Weekend and almost half of the new cases are young adults between the ages of 16 and 25.”
“It is also important to note that MCHD has conducted a thorough review all the COVID-19 cases in the 29 towns they serve and no cases have been linked to restaurants or retail food establishments at this time,” added Freeholder Director Arnone.
Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley offered updates about the Monmouth County COVID-19 Testing Program at locations in Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, Keansburg, Long Branch, Neptune and Red Bank.
“The County has administered 2,749 tests to date, 57 of those tests have come back positive,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley. “These low positivity percentages can be attributed to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and getting tested for the virus.”
The testing site locations, dates and hours of operation are posted on the County’s website at www.visitmonmouth.com.
Freeholder Director Arnone spoke about the upcoming General Election and what the County is doing in preparation.
“I want you to know that Monmouth County is doing everything in our power to make this process as efficient, accessible and secure as possible,” said Freeholder Director Arnone. “In an effort to assist with the counting of ballots from the nearly 500,000 registered votes in Monmouth County, we have purchased four additional ballot scanners and the most robust and secure suite of integrated voting software solutions on the market, investing more than $230,000.
Dominion Voting Systems’ software will automatically and digitally route ballots for adjudication. This feature is a first in the industry and eliminates the manual duplicating of ballots. This also protects the ballot chain of custody and limits the handling of voter marked ballots.
“Monmouth County has also hired 60 individuals to assist the Board of Elections with opening the ballots and placing them in the scanners,” said Freeholder Director Arnone.
Freeholder Director Arnone reminded residents that 17 mail-in ballot drop boxes placed throughout the County. For location information, or if you have any questions about how to Vote By Mail or the Election, go to MonmouthCountyVotes.com.
Freeholder Director Arnone also provided an update on the distribution of grant dollars through the Monmouth County CARES Economic Assistance Grant program and its use for the Monmouth County Vocational School District (MCVSD).
“To date, we have received more than 2,200 applications and handled more than 3,400 phone calls regarding the program. We have approved more than $13.5 million in grant dollars, which goes directly into the pockets of small business owners,” said Freeholder Director Arnone. “We still have nearly $6.5 million available, so please submit your application to www.MonmouthCountyCares.com. All you need is your tax return to get started.”
The County has also allocated $308,000 of CARES Act funding to help MCVSD enter into a contract with BAYADA, a home health care agency, to bring in school nurses into the vocational school district.
“As of today, in speaking with the administration at the Vocational School District, it is anticipated that schools will open on Monday, October 5 with a hybrid in-person model,” said Freeholder Director Arnone. “The District is working diligently to resolve any remaining staffing concerns in order to open all schools and is currently accepting applications for possible vacancies throughout the District in a variety of subjects.”