Message from the Mayor, May 13, 2020

Coronavirus takes a weeklong lull,

but too soon to let down our guard

In a strong indication the coronavirus pandemic is leveling off locally, Chatham Township did not report a single new confirmed case of Covid-19 or a single fatality for four days from Friday through Monday, and as of Wednesday had reported just one new case and one new death.

The total numbers for the Township as of Wednesday are 130 reported cases and 29 deaths. All but one of the deaths has been associated with our two Long Term Care facilities in the Township, according to reports from the state Department of Health.

Our sympathies go out to the family of the person who died this week.  Any death is one too many, and is a stark reminder of why it is so important to wear masks and to maintain safe social distancing – not only to protect ourselves, but also to protect those who may be older or have underlying health problems and are far more vulnerable to this potentially fatal virus. We cannot let our guard down.

But considering the numbers, this is an excellent time to congratulate many of those who have helped make this our safest week in almost two months. The residents and businesses of Chatham Township and surrounding towns have responded overwhelmingly to many calls for assistance during these trying times. And despite the certainty of overlooking the efforts of some deserving volunteers, now is an excellent time to recognize many of those who make our communities so special.

  • The Chatham Library's 1,000 Mask Project is rapidly outgrowing its name as it closes in on sewing its 4,000th mask for delivery to the Chatham Emergency Squad. The masks have been distributed to EMS patients and their families, to hospital staffs, to long term care facilities throughout the area, and to Police Departments, Fire Departments and Road Crews throughout nearby towns.
  • The Front Line Appreciation Group has met two needs simultaneously, buying meals from local restaurants that are suffering financially during this shutdown and delivering the food to the front line workers saving lives at our local medical centers.
  • Volunteers from our Senior Center of the Chathams are working the phones and, when delivering meals to seniors, they are protected by gloves donated by ShopRite.
  • ShopRite further demonstrated its community spirit through its Partners in Caring initiative, delivering 17,000 meals from area restaurants to nine regional hospitals.
  • And when the call went out that the Chatham Township Police Department was in need of cleaning supplies and disinfectant wipes, donations magically appeared, often left anonymously on their doorstep.

A sincere “Thank You” to all those who are reaching out to others during this time of need, especially to all those who are not recognized by name on this short list.

While it can appear that the coronavirus pandemic is on the ropes, health experts tell us it is far from finished and could come roaring back if we relax precautions too soon. With so many in the community working so hard for others, the least we can do is to abide by the pandemic guidelines designed to keep ourselves and others safe.

All residents are urged to follow proper public health guidelines by maintaining safe social separation of six feet, wearing masks in public, washing hands frequently, staying home when ill and contacting  your physician if symptoms begin to escalate.

Chatham Township Police continue to have to evict groups using our basketball courts and athletic fields, which remain closed to all group activities. Instead of gathering, enjoy the warm spring weather by taking a walk, jog or bike ride. Try some gardening or bird watching.

Please follow these common sense guidelines to avoid exposing ourselves and others to infection. Enjoy these new opportunities to get outdoors, but be careful, exercise good judgment and stay safe.

Michael Kelly

Chatham Township Mayor