Good evening. A lot of us have decided to close down offices and there are others who are remaining open for emergencies. I feel there is no right or wrong in this. Each one of us is taking a decision based on their own situation. As a health care provider, I feel obligated to help Medical providers who are taking care of the COVID-19 situation in hospitals and other make shift centers around the country. We all know they are already anticipating shortage of health care providers and hospital beds and our health care system will be under a lot of stress in the coming days.
Just today, Governor Murphy issued an Executive Order 107 that, in effect, orders most NJ residents to stay home. This order will go into effect at 9PM tonight to accommodate the end of the Sabbath. It will stay in effect until the Governor revokes or modifies it. Please note that grocery stores, restaurants, and many other essential businesses will remain open. We have detailed the guidelines below.
“Stay at home” order: All residents are to stay at home or at their place of residence unless they are leaving for the following reasons:
1) Obtaining goods or services from essential retail businesses;
2) Obtaining takeout or food beverages from restaurants;
3) Seeking medical attention, essential social services, or assistance from law enforcement;
4) Visiting family or close friends, caretakers, or romantic partners;
5) Reporting to or performing their job;
6) Walking, running, or engaging in outdoor activities with immediate family, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
7) Leaving for an educational, religious, or political reason;
8) Leaving because of a reasonable fear for health or safety; or
9) Leaving at the direction of law enforcement or other government agency.
Individuals who have to travel must practice social distancing when possible and should use public transportation only if they have no other feasible choice.
Cancelling gatherings: Gatherings of individuals, such as parties, celebrations, or other social events, are cancelled, unless otherwise authorized by the Order (i.e. the activities mentioned above). A separate Administrative Order will be issued to make clear that gatherings of fewer than 10 people are presumed to comply with the Order, unless clear evidence indicates otherwise.
Closing non-essential retail businesses: All non-essential retail businesses, which were previously limited to between 5 am and 8 pm, must now close entirely (online delivery can continue). The list of essential retail businesses that can stay open is limited to the following:
1) Grocery and food stores, including retailers like Walmart/Target that sell food;
2) Pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries;
3) Medical supply stores;
4) Gas stations;
5) Convenience stores;
6) Ancillary stores within healthcare facilities;
7) Hardware and home improvement stores;
8) Banks and other financial institutions;
9) Laundromats/dry-cleaning services;
10) Stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years old;
11) Pet stores;
12) Liquor stores;
13) Car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;
14) Printing and office supply shops;
15) Mail and delivery stores.
Note that supermarkets are asking that you buy only what you need — the supply chain will catch up if customers purchase and stores restock in the normal course.
Mandatory telework/work-from-home: All businesses or non-profits in the State must accommodate their workforce, wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements. If a business or non-profit has employees that must be on site, it shall reduce staff on site to the minimal number necessary to ensure critical operations can continue. Examples of employees who need to be present at their work site include: law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and other first responders, cashiers or store clerks, construction workers, utility workers, repair workers, warehouse workers, lab researchers, information technology maintenance workers, janitorial and custodial staff, and certain administrative staff.
Recreational and entertainment businesses: All are closed. This is unchanged from what is currently in place but the order reiterates these prohibitions.
Restaurants and other dining establishments: All can remain open, but must continue to be delivery and/or takeout only. This is also unchanged.
Pre-K, K-12, and higher education: All continue to be closed to students. This is unchanged as well.
Nothing in the order shall be construed to affect the operations of (1) health care or medical service providers; (2) access to essential services for low-income residents, including but not limited to food banks; (3) the media; (4) law enforcement; and (5) the operations of the federal government or the movement of federal officials when operating in their official capacity.
The Governor also signed Executive Order No. 108 stating that that no county or municipality may adopt or enforce any such restriction going forward and that includes additions to or deletions to the list of retail businesses deemed essential.
Business owners who are able to continue to pay their employees are encouraged to do so. Please visit COVID-19 for Business Owners for information and assistance. Employees who have been financially affected should review Department of Labor regulations and visit www.NJ.gov/labor.
The State Board of Dentistry, in accordance with the latest CDC guidance, strongly urges that practitioners comply with the following recommendations. As more information becomes available, these recommendations may change. You are urged to check the Board’s website (www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/den) frequently for updates.
- Dentists should cancel or postpone any elective procedure or “routine” service until at least April 20, 2020, to limit exposure to and transmission of the virus and help preserve and extend the supply of personal protective equipment.
- Dentists should provide emergency care to their existing patients and others seeking urgent care.
- Patients must be able to reach their dental provider, who should assess the issue/condition and determine whether there is a need for emergency treatment.
- Dentists should maintain open lines of communication for patients, whether by website, email, text and/or office voice mail, advising of limited operations during the state of emergency.
- Dentists should screen patients for symptoms of illness and/or contacts with possibly infected persons.
- Dentists should evaluate patients’ health and assess whether treatment is warranted and safe, and obtain medical consults, as appropriate.
- Dentists should monitor the health of staff and segregate duties and shifts in order to limit exposure to the virus.
- Dentists and staff should stay home if sick or showing symptoms, or if a member of their household is ill.
- Dentists should follow CDC guidelines for infection control, using personal protective equipment, as appropriate. Treatment should be referred to another dental professional, if appropriate PPE is unavailable.
- Dentists providing emergency treatment should employ appropriate precautions to minimize aerosolization.
If a procedure can be delayed for 30 days without, in the clinical judgment of the dentist, running an undue risk of harm to the patient, it is non-essential. Many dentists want a list of procedures that are essential versus non-essential, but such a list might be misleading. We rely on the training and experience of the licensed dentists in this state to determine essential versus non-essential procedures.
Helpful links for practitioners and the public:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Information for Healthcare Professionals
New Jersey State Department of Health
COVID-19: Information for Healthcare Professionals – https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/covid2019_healthcare.shtml
New Jersey State Department of Labor
Benefits and the Coronavirus – find out which benefits and protections you may be eligible for –https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml
Important information for NJ businesses – https://www.nj.gov/labor/employer-services/business/covid.shtml
ADA – www.ADA.org/virus
We are all in a brand-new territory, and need to take these emergency orders seriously in the interest of public health and safety. We must continue to remain calm, and keep things in perspective. Spend these extra moments with your family or reach out to a friend or colleague that you never seem to have the time for. It will ease your mind and maybe put a smile on your face. We will get through this together as we always do. I will continue to keep you up to date. In the meantime, keep that 6 feet distance!
Dr. Genevieve Fernandes