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Commencement Ceremonies Going Virtual

As high schools and universities across the country grapple with what to do about commencement ceremonies amid the pandemic this spring, one New Jersey company, Perlow Productions in Marlton, is offering a viable solution to give seniors their moment in the sun: virtual graduation ceremonies.

A safe alternative to walking with classmates in crowded arenas or football stadiums, virtual graduations provide a fun, streaming celebration replete with photos or even videos of each student, commencement speeches by administrators and valedictorians, and even caps tossed in the air – and the benefit of downloading the entire ceremony for posterity.

The desire to offer a semblance of a traditional commencement runs deep. Many schools have announced plans for drive-through ceremonies with Pomp and Circumstance and speeches played over PA systems, and drive-in ceremonies in old drive-in theaters, with families safely ensconced in their cars and audio broadcast on local public access radio stations.

Virtual ceremonies, including polished multimedia elements, are yet another way to deliver students a sense of closure and families an avenue to feel the pride they’ve imagined for years.

“This is the time of year when caps and gowns are being ordered, when diplomas are being printed, when hotel rooms are being booked. The sudden cancellation of in-person ceremonies is heartbreaking for students and parents alike, but we live in a time when we can substitute online experiences to allay that disappointment a little bit,” said Mike Perlow, founder and president of Perlow Productions. “Is it the same? No, but it can be rewarding and morale-boosting in its own way, and shareable in a way live ceremonies typically aren’t. And many schools will do virtual now, with live ceremonies planned later when it’s safe to do so.”  

Perlow, a former Boston TV sportscaster, said he has fielded inquires from multiple schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, California, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and even China. “COVID-19 has impacted virtually everywhere, and schools everywhere want to recognize their graduates during this season – it’s universal. Right now, the need to stay safe and adhere to social distancing is the priority, and that means getting creative in terms of all kinds of activities.”

Perlow Productions, whose typical focus is corporate video production, animation and augmented reality, pivoted when everything started to shut down and stay-at-home orders swept the country. Seeing the quandary schools were facing, Perlow saw a way to help fill a void using the company’s creative skills and technical know-how.

The company began offering three turn-key packages this month, with pricing based on a graduating class of 500 students. All include at least one address by a school official and the pronouncement of each graduate by name along with their photo on-screen. Additional options include a “procession” accompanied by Pomp and Circumstance and candid photos of the graduates, additional speeches and presentations, integration of video clips, and secure streaming online and on social media pages of the full virtual graduation production. Traditional moments, including the shifting of tassels and tossing of caps, can be added via video as well.

Perlow will work with schools to further customize the commencement experience based on their individual needs or wishes and larger or smaller class sizes. “Almost nothing is out of the realm of possibility,” he said.

Perlow Productions is a corporate video production, animation and augmented reality company based in Marlton, N.J. It creates highly strategized, branded video content for a wide array of industries and organizations. It also produces interactive videos, event live-streams, and one-of-a-kind aerial video tours.

For more information, visit www.perlowproductions.com.

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Somerdale Man Charged With Aggravated Assault on a Mt. Ephraim Police Officer, Resisting Arrest & Shoplifting

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced the following recent enforcement actions related to COVID-19, including those involving individuals in violation of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders:

John Abdullah, 57, of Somerdale was arrested on April 18 by the Mt. Ephraim Police and charged with third-degree aggravated assault on an officer, fourth-degree resisting arrest, shoplifting (disorderly persons offense) and violating the emergency orders.

Abdullah allegedly shoplifted candy from a store on the Black Horse Pike, and when he was approached by a police officer, he led the officer on a foot chase, causing the officer to be injured.

Assaults and Threats Against Police Officers, EMTs, or Others

Robert Schaub, 35, of Lindenwold, was arrested yesterday, April 18, by the Somerdale Police and charged with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency. Schaub had been prohibited from entering the Wawa store in Somerdale after a recent incident in which he was charged with trespassing there.

On April 13, he entered the store again, and a clerk who recognized him told him to leave. Schaub allegedly threatened to spit on the clerk, telling her he had the coronavirus and hoped she would get it and die. Police identified Schaub and arrested him last night. He allegedly was uncooperative and refused to be fingerprinted at the jail.

Other Violations of Executive Orders, Including “Stay at Home” Order

  • Newark Enforcement. The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 30 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered one non-essential business closed in enforcement actions yesterday, April 18.
  • Cristobal Sanchez, 62, of Plainfield, the owner of the Tequila Club restaurant and bar on East 5th Street was charged last night, April 18, by the Plainfield Police with serving alcohol to patrons inside the bar in violation of the emergency orders. Police received a report that the bar was open and found three patrons seated at the bar consuming alcohol. A few additional patrons were seated at tables. Sanchez was present and indicated that because the patrons were waiting for take-out orders, he thought he was allowed to serve them alcohol inside the premises.
  • Trennajia Robinson, 26, Nyajah Levister, 22, Angela Dominguez, 22, and Nicole Thomas, 25, all of Passaic, were charged yesterday, April 18, by the Passaic Police with violating the emergency orders. Police responded shortly after 1 a.m. to a report of a group of individuals involved in an altercation in the first block of 4th Street. Police observed the defendants in a verbal dispute and asked them to disperse. They allegedly refused to disperse and caused a disturbance. They were not near their homes and had no essential reason to be at the location.
  • Wilson Caraballo, 41, of Paterson, was charged yesterday, April 18, by the Paterson Police with violating the emergency orders for loitering outside a store in the 300 block of Main Street with no essential reason for being there. He was warned several times before about this conduct.

The defendants who were charged strictly with violating the emergency orders and who do not face more serious charges were charged by summons— they were not arrested. Those cases will be adjudicated in municipal court.

“Our police officers are working bravely and tirelessly every day to protect us during this health crisis. Regrettably, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the emergency orders— or what is more egregious, people using the virus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Staying home and maintaining social distance isn’t just the best advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do everything in our power to keep our residents and officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file charges against violators.”

“Law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of this battle to protect the citizens of New Jersey from the COVID-19 virus, and we cannot stress enough how important it is that each person follow the guidelines set forth in the Executive Order,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.”

Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, violators can potentially face criminal charges including second, third, and fourth degree indictable offenses.

On April 1, Attorney General Grewal announced enhanced charges against six people who were charged with assaulting law enforcement officers and violating the emergency orders. Specifically, those enhanced charges included making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, which is a second degree offense carrying a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Fifteen additional defendants, including Robert Schaub, have been similarly charged since that time for alleged assaults and threats against police officers, emergency medical technicians, or others.

Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

If you are seeing a lack of compliance with the Governor’s emergency orders in your town, please contact your local police department or report here covid19.nj.gov/violation

The Attorney General’s Office and New Jersey State Police will continue to work with law enforcement throughout New Jersey to deter non-complaint behavior.

No one should take advantage of this pandemic to further their own biased agendas. COVID-19 is no excuse to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and or other biased stereotypes.

Please report bias crimes at 1-800-277-BIAS.

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Deptford Township & City of Woodbury Look to Establish “Deptford Township Joint Municipal Court”

On Monday, April 20, 2020, the governing body of Deptford Township will consider for final adoption and passage an Ordinance that will establish a Joint Municipal Court for Deptford Township and the City of Woodbury.

The Ordinance was introduced at the April 6, 2020 Deptford Township Council meeting and will be considered for final passage and adoption at the Work Session on April 20 at 6:00 p.m. There will be an opportunity for a public portion so that any interested person may be heard.

The Work Session meeting will held by teleconference. To join the meeting:

  • Dial Phone Number 1-253-215-8782
  • Enter Meeting ID Number: 783 208 1421
  • Enter Password: 432083

To view the draft copy of the meeting Agenda, click here.

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Rite Aid Announces New COVID-19 Self-Swab Testing Site at Barrington, N.J. Location

Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) continues to expand COVID-19 testing sites with new locations opening Monday, April 20, in New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio, through its partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

New Rite Aid COVID-19 self-swab testing site locations opening Monday, April 20:

  • South N.J.: 501 Clements Bridge Road in Barrington
  • Lansing, Mich.: 715 South Main Street in Eaton Rapids
  • Flint, Mich.: 9090 Miller Road in Swartz Creek
  • Detroit, Mich.: 46977 Romeo Plank Road in Macomb
  • Cleveland, Ohio: 5795 State Road in Parma
  • Toledo, Ohio: 7225 Airport Highway in Holland
  • Utica, N.Y.: 4854 Commercial Drive in New Hartford

The sites will be open for testing 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and expect to be able to conduct approximately 200 tests each day through online appointments.

All Rite Aid drive-up COVID-19 testing locations will utilize self-swab nasal tests overseen by Rite Aid pharmacists. Testing eligibility is based on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which can be found here.

The testing will take place in each store’s parking lot. As part of the testing process, people must remain in their vehicles from the time they arrive and until they depart.

Testing will be available at no cost to eligible individuals who meet criteria established by the CDC.

Patients are required to provide government issued identification, be at least 18 years old and need to pre-register online at www.riteaid.com in order to schedule a time slot for testing.

In coordination with HHS, the company expects to have additional drive-up COVID-19 testing locations opening soon at Rite Aid stores in Delaware, Idaho, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Rite Aid has partnered with Verily and will use its Baseline COVID-19 Program to provide screening, scheduling, and return of results to participants for Rite-Aid testing sites.

Rite Aid also selected BioReference Laboratories to provide COVID-19 laboratory testing to all drive-up locations with the goal of flattening the curve through accessible diagnostic testing.

Clinical oversight for the COVID-19 testing program is provided by PWNHealth, a national clinician network that enables safe and easy access to diagnostic testing.

Rite Aid will continue to provide regular updates on the company’s progress with COVID-19 testing.

About Rite Aid Corporation
Rite Aid Corporation is on the front lines of delivering healthcare services and retail products to more than 1.6 million Americans daily. Our pharmacists are uniquely positioned to engage with customers and improve their health outcomes.

We provide an array of whole being health products and services for the entire family through over 2,400 retail pharmacy locations across 18 states.

Through EnvisionRxOptions, we provide pharmacy benefits and services to approximately 4 million members nationwide.

For more information, visit: www.riteaid.com.

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United Health Foundation Pledges $1 Million to Support Vulnerable New Jersey Residents Amid COVID-19

The United Health Foundation has committed $1 million to provide urgent assistance to New Jersey residents experiencing food insecurity as they face unprecedented hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey is part of UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) previously announced initial $50 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and support those most directly impacted, including health care workers, hard-hit communities, seniors and people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity.

“The COVID-19 public health emergency has compounded the many challenges faced by New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents, such as those experiencing hunger or food insecurity,” said Charles Wayland, chief executive officer, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, New Jersey. “Our partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey will provide critical aid to those who need it most.”

The $1 million grant to the Food Bank of South Jersey will provide support for additional staff to prepare emergency food bags and boxes to deliver in underserved communities, provide two weeks’ worth of food supplies for seniors and deliver them to senior housing facilities, and supply additional resources and support to local food banks in southern New Jersey.

“Our mission is to provide an immediate solution to the urgent problem of hunger by providing food to people in need, teaching them to eat nutritiously and helping them find sustainable ways to improve their lives. We have recently experienced a 200% increase in need across our 185 agencies in four counties,” said Fred C. Wasiak, president and chief executive officer, Food Bank of South Jersey. “Our partnership with the United Health Foundation will enable us to expand our reach and better meet the needs of our communities during this crisis.”

UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare, Optum and the United Health Foundation, has a long history of addressing food insecurity — a key determinant of health among vulnerable populations in New Jersey and across the country. The United Health Foundation recently announced $5 million in national partnerships with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, the Feeding America network of member food banks, and Meals on Wheels America as part of its commitment to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities.

About Food Bank of South Jersey

Marking its 35th year in 2020, the Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) is the leader in providing safe and nutritional food to people in need throughout South Jersey. FBSJ distributes food, provides nutrition education and cooking courses, and helps food-insecure families and seniors find sustainable ways to improve their lives.

Throughout 2019, FBSJ distributed over 15 million pounds of food, more than 230,000 summer meals and over 17,500 senior food boxes, as well as serving 95 health and wellness programs to more than 11,700 residents. Providing community impact through local support, FBSJ ensures that local donations stay local. FBSJ is a member of Feeding America, our nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.

To learn more, visit www.foodbanksj.org.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services.

For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.