Mercer County Executive Hughes gives COVID-19 update

A letter from County Executive Brian M. Hughes

Brian Hughes

Dear Mercer County Community,

Many individuals and organizations throughout our community have stepped up in different ways to help see us through this public health crisis. Some are very visible and others do their work behind the scenes but, either way, that perseverance and selflessness is what drives our community during difficult times, and I greatly appreciate everyone’s efforts.

One of those special efforts that you might not be aware of is being made by the people who run the Mercer County Senior Nutrition Program. When the coronavirus emergency reached our County and we all went into lockdown, the Senior Nutrition Program was quick to modify its operations to continue to provide meals from Monday to Friday to the most vulnerable population. Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program never stopped serving meals.

Although its mission states that it is a “congregate meal program,” participants are encouraged to remain at home and avoid crowded places. A “grab-and-go” set up at 10 sites throughout the County allows participants to drive up and pick up prepackaged meals. For those registered participants who usually came to the congregate program via TRADE or municipal van transportation, the meals are delivered to their homes by TRADE, which has shifted its focus during the pandemic to support the Nutrition Program. Every attention to safety is enforced, making this a contactless exchange.

Following this year’s Older Americans Month national theme, the Senior Nutrition Program – which serves as a portal for other health and social services within the Mercer County Department of Human Services – is “making its mark” by remaining in operation and even increasing the number of participants in the County. Since March 2020, the program has served more than 72,000 “grab-and-go” and home-delivered meals. I applaud Nutrition Program staff, TRADE operators and everyone else involved in this effort, and I wish the program continued success.

Adults who are 60 years or older, their spouses and adult children with disabilities who are living with them, may be eligible for the program. A suggested donation of one dollar per meal is encouraged. For more information and to register, call 609-989-6650.

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Election Day, Nov. 3, is 18 days away but the election is happening now. State officials report that more than 1.25 million New Jerseyans have already cast their ballots. If you are a registered voter, you should have received your vote-by-mail ballot. If you have not received your ballot, contact the Mercer County Clerk’s Office at 609-989-6494 or 609-989-6495.

If you plan to return your ballot by mail, your ballot must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. You also have the option of returning your completed mail-in ballot at one of 16 secure drop-box locations; at the Mercer County Board of Elections, 1440 Parkside Ave., Ewing; or at your designated polling location by 8 p.m. on Election Day. If you prefer to vote in person, you can do so at your designated polling location on Nov. 3. Any voter who chooses to cast an in-person vote will do so on a provisional ballot, and all individuals with disabilities will have access to an ADA-conforming voting machine.

Mercer County has two new informational tools to help answer your voting-related questions. You can call the Mercer County Voter Hotline at 609-278-2719 or email MercerVotes@mercercounty.org.

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Whether it signals a second wave or a temporary spike, the increased number of statewide positive COVID-19 cases the New Jersey Department of Health has reported during the past week is troubling. Public health officials have expressed concern about indoor gatherings, and “COVID fatigue” may be a factor as well. We’ve been at this for seven months but we can’t let up. It’s up to each and every one of us to take proper precautions to limit the spread of the virus. That means wearing a face mask when out in public; practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene; avoiding crowds and staying home if you are sick. Those are the things we know to be effective in combating COVID-19. Let’s continue to support each other and keep each other safe. Let’s continue to work together.

Brian M. Hughes
Mercer County Executive

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