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Any reopening of the County will be guided by health care data, Covid-19 trends, and best practices. Important protocols will be in place such as those being followed now with masks and social distancing. And special precautions will be taken to protect Seniors and others who are most vulnerable. Unfortunately, the virus will be with us for some time. We will all need to take these precautions very seriously to dampen the spread and make sure our health care facilities can effectively care for anyone who needs medical help. We have suffered the tragic loss of some of our neighbors and this is hard on our close-knit community. Fortunately, for most people who contract the disease it is unlikely that they will face hospitalization or the risk of dying.
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This is NOT the plan to reopen the County. This is a proposal to the Governor on how and when the County might be reopened. The dates within the proposal are suggested dates to give the Governor specific recommendations to consider. The dates take into consideration the current state of covid-19 trends and projections for when it might be safe to progressively reopen.
The Governor has left control of the beaches, boardwalks and rentals to the Counties and Municipalities, subject to the restrictions of the Governor’s Executive Orders and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. The Governor has taken control of most other businesses and public facilities. Consequently, no County or Town will be able to fully implement a reopening plan without restrictions being lifted by the Governor.
The Cape May County region is considered the 7th most vulnerable region in the entire United States if faced with a Covid-induced recession according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution from March 17, 2020.
Cape May County consistently generates over $6 billion in direct tourism revenue annually. The County also generates well in excess of $500 million in state sales tax and local use taxes annually. This equates to approximately $1.5 million per day. Of such taxes collected in New Jersey, this figure represents over 10% of the statewide total. Tourism-related businesses created 26,572 direct jobs in Cape May County in 2018, the last year for which compiled data is available. Cape May County outpaces all other counties in the following categories:
The average median household income in Cape May County from 2014-18 was $63,690, according to Census data. The income per capita during that time period was just $38,496. With regard to permanent residents, in a county of under 100,000 people, over 23% of the population is directly employed in retail or food service and accommodation. Nearly every sector of Cape May County’s economy is dependent on the tourist season. Cape May County, given its low per capita income and its utter dependence on tourism, stands in a uniquely vulnerable economic position.
As of this writing on May 8, 2020, it is difficult to predict. Much will depend on the decisions of the Governor and the status of Covid-19 trend data. But the Recovery Initiative is in regular communication with the Governor’s Office. Our businesses and governments at all levels are preparing and advocating for a safe, smart and progressive reopening of the County when conditions allow.
Review the proposal.