The Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development will suspend all in-person interviews and face-to-face business with its customers, effective tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Note: I also share at the bottom of this report, when and how I first heard about the first three cases of Coronavirus in Atlantic County.

A listener/reader of ours wrote me earlier today on social media to ask:

“How do you feel about (Atlantic County Executive) Dennis Levinson not closing the clerks office in mays landing? Doors are still open to the public and the workers are starting to worry!!!! Their health should be first priority. Just curious as to what you think!“

I think it’s important to share it here so that more people, who will be directly affected by this news, can see my response as follows:

You have raised a very good question. Very important.

I interviewed Denny Levinson yesterday, (Tuesday, March 17, 2020) about his own building, the social services staff and others who all have close contact with clients.

Levinson responded that “we’re open for business as usual.” That’s easy to say. But, to be fair, it’s not the right answer. Not during a health emergency (world pandemic).

Special steps must be taken to keep employees safe.

The balance between the public needing access to services and the health of employees is a tough balance.

If this pandemic continues to escalate, this and other decisions will be made for the decision makers. They’ll have no choice in the matter.

At no time should administrative, civilian staff... who often work for “short” money... they should never have their health and potentially their lives put in jeopardy.

Let’s not forget, the Atlantic County Clerk, Ed McGettigan, is good guy who is a separately elected Atlantic County constitutional officer.

He can make the decision regarding the safety of his County Clerk personnel.

He doesn’t need the County Executive to make decisions for his office.

Here is the major part of the official statement from Atlantic County government: Effective tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Atlantic County Department of Family and Community Development will suspend all in-person interviews and face-to-face business with its customers who participate in Work First New Jersey programs, including General Assistance (GA), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), as well as Medicaid and Emergency Assistance (EA) programs.

I’m not sure about the status of the Atlantic County Clerk’s Office Building at this time. But, they should follow the same practice as outlined above. It’s responsible thing to do.

Before I end this report, I want to share one more item.

At the time of a commercial break, during my interview (yesterday) with County Executive Levinson, I advised him (off-air) that one source had told me that we had the first three confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Atlantic County.

This was news that Levinson has not heard about previously. I wanted him to know so that he could properly investigate it and prepare what he would need to do in order to protect his staff and keep them safe and the citizens of Atlantic County.

To his credit, Levinson did take near immediate action, but, delayed its implementation until tomorrow.

I want you to know why I didn’t report this myself. First, I had only one unofficial source, and, just couldn’t responsibly nail it down. I wasn’t comfortable that the report was accurate. And, I definitely did not want to cause any more panic in our region. We have quite enough already.

At the time, we still had no official confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Atlantic County.

I asked the County Executive if he would get back to me with his findings, as I didn’t feel that it was the responsible thing for me to report such serious news on a one source “rumor.”

I didn’t hear back from Levinson. He has more important things on his plate these days than to get back to me. So, no offense taken.

The only thing that really mattered was to get the word out to the public at the absolute earliest possible time.

At 10:10 a.m. this morning (Wednesday, March 18, 2020), an official communication was sent out (Email) by Levinson which confirmed the first case of the Coronavirus in Atlantic County.

Later today, cases #2 and 3 were confirmed.

I do not know if these three confirmed cases were the three cases that I had previously been told about.

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