Union County, NJ – March 25, 2022 – March 23, 2022 marked two years since the County of Union hit the ground running with their COVID operations and the work still continues. Beginning on March 23, 2020, the Union County Board of County Commissioners, in conjunction with governmental, educational and healthcare partners, opened New Jersey’s first County-run, drive-through facility for testing of the COVID-19 virus at Kean University.
“From lockdowns and empty grocery store shelves to unemployment and school shutdowns, the world that we were used to had completely changed,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “In a time of uncertainty, it was through great leadership, the ability to quickly adapt and change to the times and working to provide our residents with the services they needed and deserved that got us through the pandemic.”
Covid affected the lives of millions of people, causing sadness for those that lost loved ones and anxiety for millions of people who lost their livelihoods as the pandemic caused widespread lockdowns and a massive hit to businesses. Now, two years later, masks are optional, employees are back at work, students are back in classrooms and stores and restaurants are fully open for business. And still, the many services that the County of Union provided are still in full effect.
With the guidance of the Union County Board of County Commissioners, County Manager Ed Oatman, Deputy County Manager Amy Wagner, the Department of Public Safety, Human Services and several other partners, the County had the necessary resources to directly reach its residents.
“From the mobilization of the Covid testing sites and hosting several vaccination sites at many locations throughout Union County, including our Mobile Unit, the County of Union took action in coordinating efforts to combat the Covid-19 virus,” said Commissioner Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded, Chair of the Public Safety Committee. “We made sure all of our residents still had access to government services the phone or online through our website and social media accounts to maintain a high-level of information flow to our residents.”
While the cost of lives and emotional losses caused by the pandemic are innumerable, it is still worth acknowledging the achievements made during the pandemic. To date, some key milestones are:
- As of March 21, 2022, the Department of Public Safety has reported that a total of 199,403 residents have been tested for the Coronavirus and 136,473 residents have received vaccinations, since the start of the pandemic operations.
- As of today, since May 2020, there have been a total of 77 food distributions (78 including one this weekend at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield). The Department of Human Services serviced 20% of the Union County population with the emergency food program (over 115,000 households) – totaling more than 16 million pounds of food with over 15.1 million meals provided.
- In coordination with the Community Food Bank of NJ, Human Services also delivered over 8,000 meals to seniors as well as 45,500 frozen meals.
“Many families experienced the financial strain from the pandemic, so coming together to provide millions of meals to those Union County residents was something we were able to do to make sure that no one had to worry about having food on their table,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, who serves as Liaison to the Human Services Advisory Board. “These programs would not be possible without our community partners, volunteers and staff here at Union County.”
“The long-lasting impact on many individuals’ mental and physical health may still not be determined, but the County of Union will continue to have the programs needed to assist our residents with the help they need,” said County Manager, Ed Oatman. “The challenges we faced were countless, but we, as a team, faced them head-on. I would like to thank the hardworking, dedicated staff who worked long days, every day, to help combat this virus and assist our residents in overcoming the overwhelming feeling of the hardships many were facing.”
If any resident is looking for additional resources and guidance from the Union County Department of Human Services, please visit ucnj.org/dhs or call the DHS Action Line at 888-845-3434 or 908-558-2288.
Schedules and locations of Union County’s vaccines and testing can be found by visiting https://ucnj.org/covid19.
For more information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.