Mayor Mark Sokolich / COVID-19 Reverse 911 Call – 3/12/20

Good Evening Fort Lee – this Mayor Mark Sokolich.

I am addressing all Fort Lee residents this evening to provide you with very important updates that directly affect the Borough of Fort Lee.

First, I have scheduled a borough-wide Town Hall telephone conference meeting for tomorrow evening, Friday, March 13 at 7:00PM sharp… all residents are encouraged to join me and other municipal officials at which time I will provide the community with further updates and information concerning the COVID-19 health crisis and its direct impact on our community… the number to call at 7:00PM to join the Town Hall tele-conference is:

951-799-9018

There will also be a Question and Answer period at the end of the tele-conference… All residents are encouraged to participate.

A few background points first:

  • There are no new cases of COVID-19; our only confirmed case was a 32 year old male.
  • COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus for which there is presently no known vaccination.
  • The World Health Organization has deemed COVID-19 to be a pandemic.
  • Developments occur moment to moment that affect the decisions we make here in Fort Lee so we can all expect changes in our daily lives and adjustments that we will be required to implement… allow me to emphasize that due to ever-changing impact of this virus we will be unable to provide you with a lot of notice… we MUST be ready to respond quickly and follow any and all measures that we take to protect ourselves… do not panic, just be ready!
  • Thus far, Fort Lee has closed its Senior Citizen Center and all events at our Public Library.
  • In light of the frequency of new and confirmed cases in the US and New Jersey there are announcements concerning multiple closures on an hourly basis ranging from suspension of Parades, cancellation of conventions, suspension of the NBA season and cancellation of America’s beloved Basketball tournament, known as March Madness.
  • Most recently, Bergen County Executive James Tedesco has elected to close all Bergen County public schools in all al 75 school districts in bergen County as of 3:00PM tomorrow, Friday, March 13.

We in Fort Lee shall take similar action to control the spread of this virus and we have determined it is in the best interest of all residents that the following closures occur:

1. All Fort Lee Public Schools shall be closed as of 3:00PM tomorrow, Friday, March 13 consistent with County Executive Tedesco’s directive and our school district shall transition from on-site learning to off-site learning… Step that our district has been and is prepared to implement.

  • This closure shall be for a period of 14 days during which time the Board of Education, Superintendent Ken Rota and our Task Force shall furthers courses of action.
  • This closure shall include all co-curricular activities and all athletic events.
  • All parents, students, families are directed to the Fort Lee Board of Education website for additional information and to follow all notices and communications from the Office of the Superintendent and Fort Lee Board of Education.

2. The Fort Lee Recreation Department and all recreation buildings including the Jack Alter Community Center, the Fort Lee Recreation Center and the Fort Lee Youth Center shall be closed as of 5:00PM tomorrow, March 13 for a period of 14 days… no one will be allowed to enter any of those buildings and all events, programs and the like are cancelled during this period.

  • Our closure of Fort Lee Recreation also includes the suspension of all Youth Sports activities, whether indoor or outdoor…again, all Youth Sports activities, practices, meetings, games (including our travel teams) are suspended also for a period of 14 days… for those families that participate in any of our leagues (Girls Rec Basketball, American or National Little League, Girls Rec Softball, Soccer) you may expect further notices from our league administrators.
  • This closure also includes our public parks, dog park and community gardens….all sport events, group, activities and gatherings at any of our public parks is prohibited during this period….our parks will remain open for walking and passive activity, however the tennis, basketball courts, sports fields and children’s playground equipment will be closed during this period.

3. The Fort Lee Public Library will also close as of 5:00PM tomorrow, March 13 for a period of 14 days…..here too, no one will be allowed to enter the building. In accordance with a prior announcement, all library events, activities, meetings and gatherings of any nature shall likewise be postponed during this period. Please expect additional information and further notices from our library director and library board of trustees.

Until further notice Fort Lee Borough Hall and our other Borough Buildings (Health, Building, Parking Authority) will remain open; however, we encourage everyone to conduct there business remotely to the extent possible…..you may anticipate notices concerning these building in the near future.

In sum, the entire public school district will close as of 3:00PM tomorrow (March 13) and transition from on-site to off-site learning….please look for additional notices and communications from our Superintendent Ken Rota and our Board of Education; and, our recreation buildings including the community center, recreation center on Stillwell Avenue and Youth Center shall be closed as of 5:00PM tomorrow, March 13 and all Youth Sports (and travel) are suspended for a period of 14 days.

All residents are requested to regularly check our local website for additional closures and information concerning the closures at FORTLEENJ.ORG. The municipal closures are for a minimum period of 14 days and may be extended depending on all relevant factors.

The idea here is to stem the spread of this virus… no need to panic and remain calm…these efforts are designed to slow down and even prevent the virus from spreading… these measures are not the result of additional cases in Fort Lee, rather to protect your safety and to prevent community spread.

All residents are encouraged to join the Town Hall tele-conference tomorrow evening, Friday March 13 at 7:00PM by calling:
951-799-9018

Our COVID-19 Task Force will continue to meet daily to review all developments and take the appropriate measures to keep you safe… by all accounts, it is up to us to prevent the spread of this virus and to stay safe and healthy……please regularly refer to the following websites for additional information concerning best practices and other tips concerning supplies you may need and how to prepare for extended stays at home… those sites are:

NJ.GOV/HEALTH
CDC.GOV
FORTLEENJ.ORG

I will also energize our Emergency Radio Band for additional periodic messages….Please tune into 1630 AM radio….this is Fort Lee’s exclusive AM radio band solely devoted to emergency situations such as the COVID-19 health crisis.

Once again, all residents are encouraged to join the Town Hall tele-conference tomorrow evening, Friday March 13 at 7:00PM by calling:

951-799-9018

Remember Fort Lee, wash your hands regularly; avoid touching your face; practice social distancing (6 feet apart from someone); if your sick stay home and call your doctor for further instruction; if we practice these measures we will be OK.

And remember, practicing these basic measures are our civic responsibility and we owe it to our selves, our family and our neighbors and community… thank you and remember, join our Town Hall tele-conference tomorrow evening at 7:00PM dial: 951-799-9018

Lastly, check in with your neighbors…call a senior citizen that you know or a fend who is alone…let them hear your voice…a call from a friend or family member will go a long way to keep everyone calm, focused and ready to address this public health crisis.

I look forward to the privilege of addressing all of you tomorrow evening… stay strong Fort Lee and know that all effort and resources are deployed and devoted to your safety.