UPDATE FROM MAYOR BHALLA FOR RESIDENTS REGARDING COVID-19
Below is an update from Mayor Bhalla for Hoboken residents:
I want to start by letting residents know that I’m extremely grateful to everyone for making substantial adjustments to their day-to-day lives and practicing self-isolation. This is a complete change to everything we do on a daily basis, and I know it’s not easy. As a father with two kids now learning remotely from home, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to have a full household, all the time, and I thank everyone for doing everything possible to self-isolate and practice social distancing.
Here are some updates to keep everyone informed of the latest in Hoboken with COVID-19:
Four new COVID-19 cases in Hoboken
Today, there were four new identified positive COVID-19: a male in his late 20s, two males in their late 30s, and a female in her early 60s. As always, the Hoboken Health Department conducts an investigation to ensure anyone in contact with the individuals enter into self-quarantine. There are now a total of 19 cases in Hoboken, and all are expected to fully recover.
Limiting outdoor activities
Hoboken is full of active residents, and healthy activity is certainly needed during our period of self-isolation. While I understand the temptation to spend time outside exercising, the safest method is to exercise indoors if at all possible. Many of our gyms and health clubs are offering online fitness classes which you can do from home. This is a win-win – providing our gyms and their employees some extra dollars since they are undoubtedly suffering, while remaining indoors. Please strongly consider this option and contact your local gym! This isn’t to say to remain indoors 24/7, 7 days a week – everyone needs fresh air – but it’s another way to limit your exposure to COVID-19.
We’ve observed a large number of residents jogging and walking outdoors on our waterfront, which at any other time would be welcome and encouraged. Given this, I’m asking residents that do choose to jog or walk outside, to do so in areas away from the waterfront if possible, and to go out early in the morning when less people are out. And, most importantly, to practice social distancing at all times and remain 6 feet away from anyone else.
Riverside testing center and other testing options
Today, Riverside Medical opened up their drive through testing facility in North Hoboken, which tested 17 patients for COVID-19. Currently, Riverside only has the testing kits to treat their current patients. If they are able to receive more testing kits, they have offered to open it to the public. I completely understand the frustration from some residents who want this site to be open to the public, but Riverside, along with all other medical facilities, are suffering from the lack of tests across the entire country. I’m grateful to them for working with us to open up this testing facility, which for the time being, will help alleviate the testing at other facilities. We continue to tirelessly advocate for more testing kits to be available for our region.
Today, I had a conference call with representatives from Hudson County officials, and strongly pushed for additional options for testing. I’m pleased that next week, a new testing facility will likely be open to the public somewhere in the County. As soon as we hear additional details, we will let everyone know.
Short-term rental restrictions
We are doing everything we can at the City level to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in all ways possible, including any people unnecessarily coming into Hoboken for a trip that we can’t track and to locations we can’t determine. As of last night, there were surprisingly several dozens of rentals available on Airbnb. All short-term rentals, including Airbnb are now prohibited until further notice in Hoboken, with a new order issued by the Office of Emergency Management. We have informed Airbnb and ask all hosts to remove their listings without delay.
Tips on social distancing
Two situations that residents have contacted me about regarding the lack of social-distancing is at supermarkets, and when picking up food at busy restaurants. Earlier today, my staff was in contact with ShopRite regarding some overcrowding issues. When you’re in line at the supermarket, please be sure to leave at least 6 feet between the person behind and in front of you. ShopRite has pledged to help monitor and enforce this going forward. Additionally, when you’re picking up food at a restaurant, please be sure to also leave 6 feet between the next person at all times.
Using credit cards whenever possible
When ordering takeout or delivery from a local business, I urge all residents to pay by credit card (and leaving a tip) over the phone whenever possible. COVID-19 can remain on cash for longer periods of time, and paying over the phone or on the restaurant’s website is a simple way to stay safe.
Moving in or out
A common question I’m receiving, since it’s near the end of the month, is whether or not people can move in or out of their building. This is permitted and not an issue, as long as social distancing is practiced. The Hoboken Parking Utility will continue to honor the no parking signs that have been purchased for moving.
Limiting trips to the supermarket
Please do everything you can to limit multiple and unnecessary trips to the supermarkets. I’ve been told by supermarket staff that food and goods are being restocked every day, so there is no need to panic. If you need to get a couple smaller items, I suggest heading to a local bodega, most of which are not having overcrowding issues.
House parties are strictly prohibited
My office has heard reports of house parties with several people gathered in one place, in recent days. As a reminder, gatherings of more than 5 people, indoors or outdoors (with the exception of large families), is strictly prohibited. If you hear a house party or larger gathering occurring, please call the Hoboken Police Department at 201-420-2100.
Governor Murphy’s executive order today
Earlier today, Governor Murphy signed an executive order telling people to stay home except for essential needs. The self-isolation order we put into place earlier this week in Hoboken is largely the same as the Governor’s order, and I thank him for putting these policies in place for the rest of New Jersey. One important clarification is that the Governor’s order specified that construction in municipalities must be permitted, provided the workers practice social distancing. As a result of the Governor’s directive, construction in Hoboken will be allowed to continue. To get in touch with Hoboken’s construction office, visit http://www.hobokennj.gov/resources/construction-code-office
Fill out the census!
As mentioned yesterday, please take 5-10 minutes while you’re at home to fill out the census online with the form you should have received in the mail. We’ll need all the funding we can get once we’re through this crisis and achieving a population threshold will be critical.
Limiting visitors to Hoboken
While Hoboken is a fantastic place to visit, please don’t encourage any additional family or friends to our mile square if they aren’t here already and aren’t critical for family care – limiting our potential exposure to additional people will also help us stop the spread of COVID-19.
Finally, I’m very grateful to the many residents who have reached out to my office with offers to volunteer and help out those in need. One of the things that I love about Hoboken is the way everyone comes together for the greater good of our community. It’s what makes Hoboken special, and why I know we’ll get through this together. In the coming days, we’ll be announcing opportunities to donate goods and food for those who may have lost their jobs or are suffering due to impacts of COVID-19.
As always, I thank residents for all they’re doing to keep themselves, and our community, safe.
Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla
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