April 29, 2020

University Launches $1M Local Relief Fund

By Donald Gilpin

As COVID-19 cases and related death numbers start to level off and New Jersey, gradually and cautiously, looks forward to Gov. Phil Murphy’s “Road Back” plan, Princeton University has announced the establishment of a fund to support community relief efforts related to COVID-19, with an initial commitment of $1 million to support immediate needs in the municipality of Princeton.

“The focus will be on contributions to organizations that distribute directly to other nonprofits or, where appropriate, businesses, and to partnerships of community organizations working collaboratively to address current needs,” the University wrote in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

A University committee has made recommendations and Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber and Provost Deborah Prentice have approved initial disbursements from the fund of $400,000 to the Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID Relief Fund and $100,000 to the Princeton Children’s Fund Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund.

“The remaining $500,000 will be distributed as additional contribution opportunities emerge,” the University announcement stated.

Noting significant impacts of the crisis in communities where the University is located, the announcement stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in immense financial pressures for nonprofits and service organizations; businesses, particularly small businesses; and individuals and families.”

It continued, “The University will use the fund to contribute to relief and recovery efforts already underway, and those that will emerge in the coming months. The fund is designed to distribute funds to partner organizations that provide grants, services, and other forms of direct support to local organizations, businesses, and families.”

In addition to its contributions through the relief fund, the University has been working to assist the local community in a number of ways, the announcement pointed out , including direct support to organizations fighting food insecurity, donations of personal protective equipment (PPE), hosting blood drives, providing perishable food items to local food kitchens, and faculty and staff volunteering in the community.

The University made a $25,000 contribution to Send Hunger Packing Princeton (SHUPPrinceton) to support the nonprofit group’s collaboration in feeding qualified Princeton Public Schools (PPS) students. The University also donated 15 mini-fridges to the PPS and SHUPPrinceton to support their family meal distributions.

The Princeton Area Community Foundation COVID Relief Fund was established to provide support to community organizations actively engaged in addressing issues elevated during the crisis, including food and housing insecurity, reduced and lost income, child care, and behavioral and mental health needs. The Princeton Children’s Fund Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund provides financial support to economically disadvantaged local families and individuals in need of assistance with rent, utility bills, child care, and medical expenses.

Local COVID-19 Cases

COVID-19-related deaths in Princeton have risen to eight over the last few days, with the Princeton Health Department (PHD) on April 27 reporting the deaths of two men, both with pre-existing medical conditions, one in his 70s and the other in his 80s. The death of a woman in her 70s was reported on Sunday. Four of the Princeton COVID-19-related deaths have occurred at Princeton Care Center and one at Acorn Glen assisted living facility. PHD officials have been working closely with the staff of those facilities to ensure that New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) guidelines on controlling outbreaks of COVID-19 are being met.

The PHD reported Monday, April 27, a total of 112 COVID-19 cases in Princeton, just two additional in the previous 24 hours, with 48 active cases in isolation and 56 cases that have recovered.

The NJDOH announced 3,605 Mercer County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 as of April 28 and a total of 212 COVID-19-related deaths in the county.

In his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, April 28, Murphy announced 402 new deaths for a total of 6,442, with 113,856 total confirmed cases, an additional 2,887 positive cases since Monday’s report. Not all of the new cases and deaths occurred in the previous day, Murphy noted, and the Tuesday numbers often seem higher because of weekend delays in reporting.

COVID-19 testing continues to be backed up several days and the state is only testing symptomatic residents, so the actual numbers of infections probably far surpass those confirmed case numbers, both Murphy and Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser have said.

Grosser noted that Princeton intends to be ready to follow Murphy’s six-point plan to put the state on the road to recovery, “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health,” which he announced Monday. Murphy emphasized that his stay-at-home executive order would remain in effect in its entirety until further notice and that six principles would guide the process for lifting restrictions.

“Each day, a cohort of the Princeton Office of Emergency Management provides one another a situational update on our local response, new state guidelines, national trends, and international efforts to control this pandemic,” Grosser wrote in an email Tuesday. “Beginning in mid-March, the group began setting aside time to begin discussions on how the town can plan for the lifting of various executive orders by the governor. Fortunately, our discussions have covered just about all of the six key principles to restore New Jersey’s economic health through public health.”

The principles include demonstrating sustained reductions in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations; expanding testing capacity; implementing robust contact tracing; establishing safe places and resources for isolation and quarantine; executing a responsible economic restart; and ensuring resiliency in order to be prepared for the possibility of a resurgence.

“New Jersey, but Princeton in particular, rises up when it comes to resiliency,” Grosser said. “And I’m proud to be part of a town where challenges are met with innovative solutions fueled by hard work and ingenuity.”

For more information, visit princetoncovid.org or covid19.nj.gov.