Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

With each passing day, people with disabilities are becoming more vulnerable as they face uncertainty and a loss of services in this pandemic. Your funds will help us keep some critcal services in place right now, like our mental health services.
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Program Updates & Resources from Easterseals NJ

For any general questions about COVID-19 in NJ, call 2-1-1 or text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information and stay informed.
Program updates can be found at the bottom of the page.
Easterseals staff? Visit our intranet page for more employee updates.

UPDATED: May 20, 2020

Camp Merry Heart PROGRAM UPDATE – Delayed Opening Until 2021

For more than 7 decades, Easterseals Camp Merry Heart has prided itself in providing campers & travelers with friendships and memories which will last a lifetime. It comes with a heavy heart that we must announce, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, it is not possible for us to operate Camp Merry Heart for the rest of 2020. We are forced to cancel all rentals, respites, and events for the summer and fall seasons. We are planning to resume operations in January 2021 on a limited basis with respite and hotel programs (to be confirmed at a later date). 

We will continue to provide all program updates regarding Coronavirus-related closures/re-openings on this page.

#IAmEssential – An Honest Look at What it Means to Be on the Front Lines of The COVID-19 Pandemic

In our latest video series, we interviewed Easterseals case managers about how they are coping with the pandemic while still providing vital services to individuals with serious persistent mental illness. An eye-opening look into the impact the Coronavirus has had on essential workers and those they care for.

Easterseals New Jersey Invited to Sit on Governor’s COVID-19 Recovery Taskforce

As New Jersey prepares for a safe reopening of the state’s services and businesses, we are doing our best to stay connected to decision-makers. With that in mind, we are pleased to announce that Easterseals New Jersey has been invited by the Office of the Governor to sit on the COVID-19 Recovery Taskforce.

NJ Restart & Recovery advisory Council LOGO

We will be participating on the Advisory Board for Social Services and Nonprofits. As a member of this committee, our organization will have a key role in advising Governor Murphy on how best to reopen service agencies like ours in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to working with the Governor and our fellow committee members to find effective and safe solutions to “restart & recover” here in our state. For more information about this exciting initiative, visit the website.

NJ Public Health Emergency Extended 30 Days

Governor Murphy has extended the Public Health Emergency for 30 additional days, bringing the revised expiration date to June 5th.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that this action does not mean that we are seeing anything in the data which would pause our path forward and it should not be interpreted by anyone to mean we are going to be tightening any of the restrictions currently in place,” Murphy said at his daily coronavirus briefing in Trenton.

The state has begun to open up some “non-essential” businesses, but with strict social distancing guidelines in place to prevent a resurgence in the infection rate. Read more on

Disability-Related Legal Resources During the Pandemic

Community Health Law Project logo

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals with disabilities need legal assistance navigating issues related to:

  • Housing, including rent and mortgage obligations, eviction, or need for repairs
  • Stimulus check issues
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Food Assistance
  • Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives
  • Family matters such as child support, visitation, or domestic violence
  • Other issues that may be affecting them during this crisis

If you are a person with a disability in need of legal help, please contact the Community Health Law Project for assistance.

Mental Health Resources to Help You Weather the COVID-19 Lockdown

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is right on time!

During this COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be more mindful of our mental health than ever before. Our stress levels are high, our social structure has been upended, and many of us are facing economic uncertainty. The worst part? It all feels completely out of our control. So for the sake of our mental health, we should all focus on the things we CAN control. 

This is why, all throughout May, we will be sharing all the things we are doing to stay “mental healthy” and ask you all to join us in doing the same. Follow us on social media and share your favorite ways to distress.

Dog videos? Let’s see ‘em.

Started painting? Show us your latest masterpiece.

New recipes you’re trying out? Share them with the world!

We’ve also gathered a variety of resources below to help you address the stressors in your life. Take a look!

Tips and Advice

Crisis hotlines

Substance abuse support and Narcan access

Therapy referrals and anxiety management

Free health and wellness activities

A list of New Jersey food banks

Sometimes it helps to learn about the successes others have experienced in overcoming mental health challenges. We’ve gathered a few of our success story videos below for you to watch and be inspired by.

And if you are ever having a health emergency, always call 911 first.

Governor Murphy Reveals His Plan to Reopen NJ: The Road Back

A six-point plan has been released by NJ Governor Phil Murphy charting a path to safely reopen the state and restart our economy. The plan, titled “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” establishes six critical principals the state will be using to guide their decisions on lifting restrictions on social gatherings, businesses, and services here in the state.

“Our priority is to use science, data, and facts to put New Jersey on the road to recovery. In order to restore economic health, we must first promote public health,” said Gov Murphy. “These key principles and metrics are critical for giving New Jerseyans confidence that we will re-open our state with our public health protocols firmly in place and our health care system prepared. Restarting New Jersey’s economy and returning people to work will be done methodically, strategically, and responsibly.” 

Gov Murphy has also announced a reopening committee.

As restrictions are lifted, Easterseals plans for a methodical and strategic return to work based on the level of disease transmission risk. As always, the safety of our program participants and staff is our top priority. We will monitor all incoming communications from state and healthcare agencies as we continue our work to enrich the lives of people with disabilities and special needs here in NJ.

Please call 855.215.4541 for all Easterseals program questions.

An Open Letter From the American Association of the DeafBlind

If you are a healthcare professional or provider agency or a person who is DeafBlind, please take a moment to read through this open letter. It addresses the best practices for providing or receiving care for/as a person who is DeafBlind.

With the COVID-19 outbreak increasing the stress on our hospitals and agencies, it is vital to be prepared for all situations before they are encountered. This is a great primer and we suggest you heed its message.

Read the letter here.

We Found IRS COVID-19 Financial Resources so You Don’t Have To

People with disabilities receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will automatically receive Recovery Rebate payments delivered in the same way they currently receive their SSI benefits. This change is authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This money will help support those feeling the economic pressure being placed on them by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Need to know if you’re eligible? Look at a breakdown of the eligibility criteria.

Want to check on the status of your payment or need to make sure they have all your correct information? Check out the IRS’s “get my payment” tool.

Also, a reminder that, if you haven’t filed your taxes already, the IRS has extended the deadline for submission to July, 15th 2020.

Lastly, BEWARE OF SCAMS! Unfortunately, though we see many people coming together to battling against this pandemic, we see others trying to take advantage of it. Only trust the website with your information and be suspicious of anyone asking for your personal/financial information or for payments of any kind. For more information, visit this IRS page on the subject.

Easterseals Speaks up for Our Most Vulnerable!

In a time of “news noise” Easterseals is refusing to go unheard. We are going to local news to make sure those we serve are not forgotten as we all respond to this pandemic. Read the articles below and listen to our live radio interview to learn about how Easterseals is protecting those we serve.

Logo to identify source
COVID-19 Threat Means Fewer Services for Developmentally Disabled

Read the article

Listen to a radio clip featuring Easterseals NJ CEO, Brian Fitzgerald

Easterseals plea: During the COVID-19 crisis, let’s help those who help those most in need

Read the article

‘Uncharted territory’: How NJ’s adult special needs community is facing the pandemic

Read the article

WJRZ logo
An interview with Brian Fitzgerald, CEO of Easterseals New Jersey
Listen to the full interview here

BONUS: Read our latest blog article addressing the topics people are not talking about enough when it comes to staying “mental healthy” in these trying times.

Easterseals New Jersey leadership is speaking out on local media to ensure the public stays informed during this time of crisis. To follow all our updates and help get the word out about how to support people with disabilities during this time, follow us on social media.

Advocacy Opportunity – Don’t Let Legislators Forget About People With Disabilities

Calling all advocates

These past weeks have been some of the most challenging in our nation’s history. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have been infected with COVID-19 and over 40,000 have sadly passed away. This pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economy, the healthcare sector, and all of our lives.

Congress is now deep in negotiations on what will be included in phase IV of the COVID-19 response. We must take this opportunity to share our priorities with our members of Congress. Please take 60 seconds to email your Senators and House members to let them know that disabled New Jerseyans need their help. Thank you for your time and your advocacy.


Jacob Caplan
Advocacy Manager
Easterseals New Jersey

Social Distancing Guidelines Extended

Social Distancing guide

In an effort to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), President Trump has extended the federal government’s social distancing guidelines through till 4/30. These distancing guidelines are crucial to stopping the spread of the virus and bringing this pandemic to a close. As a result, we will be continuing our program suspensions until orders such as these are lifted and it is once again safe to resume services. We encourage everyone to take them seriously and make them part of daily practice until notified to do otherwise.

READ MORE: Trump Extends Social Distancing Guidelines

Helpful Safety Reminder Graphics

Below you can find several helpful graphics to print and/or share as reminders on what to do to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small Covid-19 Grants for Individuals and Families

The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities has modified an existing contract with The Arc of New Jersey in response to the current the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Arc of NJ will be processing requests from any individuals with I/DD, their families and any qualified community-based organizations that provide supports to people with developmental disabilities, who are affected by the statewide Coronavirus response.

Funds must be used to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities and/or their families and promote health, activity and engagement with family, friends and peers, alleviate anxiety due to social distancing, and/or increase positive shared experiences. Applicants are required to exhaust other available sources of funding before submitting an application. What do people need now due to social distancing, quarantine, or self-imposed isolation that is not available from current supports and services? How will people remain engaged with their friends and family?

What will be funded?

  • Activities to remain engaged during social distancing;
  • Items that alleviate anxiety due to social distancing (technology/internet access); and,
  • Other items needed for people experiencing social isolation and access to health care.

Funds will be made available for requests that assist one individual/family or multiple individuals/families.  Requests are expected to range on average from $250 to $500 per request as approved by the Arc of New Jersey, in consultation with the Council.  Agencies submitting requests for multiple individuals/families can combine requests into one application while providing individual/family level detail.

Click here for the application forms and more information.

Additional COVID-19 Resources

Deaf or Hard of Hearing?

Click this image for additional Coronavirus (Covid-19) updates

If you receive Social Security Benefits, please note that all local offices are CLOSED and are only offering services by phone. To learn more, click here.           


Full list here

Camp Merry Heart Respite Delays

As we continue to respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it comes with a heavy heart that we must announce the cancellation of all rentals, respites, and events at Easterseals Camp Merry Heart until at least June 28th, 2020.  We acknowledge that this decision impacts many people we work with and support, and most importantly the people we serve: our campers.  For those who have pre-registered, please contact us immediately to discuss next steps.

We are still accepting registrations for sessions taking place as early as June 28th. The cancellation of all summer programming is dependent on many factors that are influenced by the progress of this virus and how that affects our day to day lives.  We have not made a decision yet regarding the remainder of the summer. We hope that this trying time will pass quickly, and we will all be together soon. Email us with any additional questions, suggestions, or even to share a camp memory.

Program Closure

All Easterseals New Jersey Work Centers will be CLOSED until further notice as of Monday, March 23, 2020 (This includes our Millville and Raritan Valley Work Centers).

Easterseals NJ Packaging & Fulfillment and NJ FileSave Imaging services will be CLOSED until further notice as of Monday, March 23, 2020.

New Jersey State Seal

These closures are in response to Governor Murphy’s Statewide Stay at Home Order, Closure of All Non-Essential Retail Businesses. Learn More

Click here to view or print the Essential Employee Letter.

Program Closure

Centerpath Wellness logo

Easterseals and the leadership of Centerpath Wellness (CPW) have made the decision to close our Plainfield site as of Friday March 20, 2020.

Read more about this closure

Regarding Group Homes – Limited Visitation

Visitation Limitation Now Imposed effective today (3/17/20) at 5PM

By order of the Department of Health and in reaction to COVID-19, visitors to all facilities licensed under 10:37A (Community Living Services Residential Programs serving people with serious and persistent mental illness) shall be restricted until otherwise notified by the Department of Health.  

If you or a loved one is participating in one of these Easterseals New Jersey programs, please note:

  • Visitation to the facility where your friend/loved one resides will be highly discouraged until further notice
  • ALL visitors will be screened outside the residence and asked specific health questions

If the visitor passes the screening and is allowed in the facility:

  • You will be asked to wash your hands upon entering.
  • You will be restricted to one area, preferably the consumer’s personal space, and not allowed to roam the facility.
  • You will be restricted from touching objects or other people within the home.
  • Visitation shall be under one hour.

Program Closure

All Day Program sites will be SUSPENDED until further notice as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (This includes our Bergen, Lakewood, Mercer, Rio Grade, Northfield, Oakhurst, Edison, Lacey, and Sayerville sites.)

Click here to learn more about day program closures

All Extended Employment programming will be SUSPENDED until further notice as of Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This is in direct response to a directive from the New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).

New Jersey State Seal

At this time we have not received a directive on when services should re-open. Please check back here for future updates or email us for additional concerns.

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1 thought on “Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)”

  1. CMH, thanks for update. Good luck to everyone. Stay well. We will pray for you. Hope to see you in August. Scott Russell, Montville Rotary

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