Hoboken Mayor Updates COVID-19

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and the city’s Health Department released a COVID-19 update this morning for the Mile Square City:

Advisory: Update from Mayor Bhalla on COVID-19 (11/10)

Impact of COVID-19 in Hoboken and New Jersey

The Hoboken Health Department has reported the following new cases of COVID-19 in Hoboken:

November 7: 5
November 8: 16
November 9: 14

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hoboken has had 1,127 known, confirmed COVID-19 cases. Fatalities remain unchanged at 31. As of today, the Hoboken University Medical Center is treating 12 patients with COVID-19, which includes one new Hoboken resident.

Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy reported 11 new COVID-19 related fatalities and 2,075 new, known COVID-19 cases in New Jersey, the sixth straight day with at least 2,000 new cases. The seven-day average in New Jersey for new cases is 2,276, a 40% increase from one week earlier. The positivity rate in New Jersey for tests recorded on November 5th was 7.52%. The statewide rate of transmission is currently 1.24, with any number over 1 indicating the virus is spreading. 1,537 patients with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized in New Jersey, the highest total since June 9. We are now in the middle of the second wave of this pandemic and should be guided by this reality.

One important note about Hoboken’s cases is that we are including positive rapid tests in our daily COVID-19 cases. The State’s numbers only report positive PCR tests, and do not include rapid tests, which likely means that the state’s actual number of cases is higher on a daily basis.

Update from Hoboken Health Department

According to the Hoboken Health Department, many recent COVID-19 cases have been attributed to:

  • A number of social gathering situations, especially those indoors
  • Exposures that have likely occurred in the workplace, including those who work out of state
  • Children who have tested positive due to out of school social gatherings and recreation activities
  • Household contacts who have tested positive

The Hoboken Health Department also reminds residents who may have been exposed to COVID-10 to get a test at least 5-7 days after the incident to avoid an inaccurate test.

The Health Department also encourages residents to download and utilize the COVID Alert NJ mobile application, to provide anonymous notification of potentially being in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. To download the app and for more information, please visit https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/app.

New regulations announced by Governor Murphy

Yesterday, Governor Murphy announced steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 throughout New Jersey. As of Thursday, November 12, the following regulations have been enacted by the State of New Jersey for all bars and restaurants:

  • Indoor dining must end at 10:00 pm at all bars and restaurants
  • All bar-side seating will no longer be permitted
  • Tables can be placed closer than six feet only if there are plexiglass barriers separating tables
  • Only take-out and delivery services are permitted after 10:00 pm

Our Hoboken rules and regulations regarding outdoor dining remain unchanged. Restaurants and bars can stay open outdoors until 11 pm Sunday through Wednesday, and until 12 am Thursday through Saturday. All parklets, streateries and outdoor dining areas will be permitted to stay open during these hours.

As many know, on October 29, my office along with the Office of Emergency Management made the decision to close bars and restaurants at midnight for a period of two weeks, for similar reasons the Governor cited today. These include positive COVID-19 cases linked to bars and restaurants, and an effort to proactively curb the transmission of COVID-19 during late hours and indoor settings when social distancing and health regulations are less likely to be followed. The Governor’s new rules for indoor dining supersede our recent City regulations, and we will comply with the State’s requirements.

While we thought midnight was a fair compromise for a closure in Hoboken, I appreciate the Governor’s willingness to make an unpopular decision state-wide in a situation that is far from ideal, designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 during a time period where cases are expected to rise. I understand how difficult this is for our bar and restaurant owners, and I will do everything I can to communicate the need for financial relief for bars and restaurants to our federal elected officials – Senator Menendez, Senator Booker and Congressman Sires. The next stimulus bill must have substantial funding to help offset some of the revenue losses suffered by our small businesses.

New COVID-19 vaccine progress

It was great news to hear of progress on Pfizer’s vaccine trial yesterday. According to clinical trials, Pfizer’s vaccine was over 90% effective in preventing COVID-19. Pfizer could be ready to apply to the Federal and Drug Administration for emergency approval later this month. This could be the breakthrough we’ve all been waiting for, and gives us hope that we can eventually get back to normal at some time next year.

At the same time, it’s anticipated that even if things continue to progress and a vaccine is approved soon, it could very well be months until the vaccine is widely available and distributed to the greater public. That’s why it’s all the more critical that we continue to use the tools we have at our disposal – wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding indoor gatherings, and washing our hands, in the winter when cases are expected to rise.

The pandemic sadly isn’t going away anytime soon, and it’s on all of us to use these tools that science has proven can help protect the health of our community.

Encouraging bar and restaurant staff to get tested

During contact tracing for certain cases, the Hoboken Health Department has reported that some staff at restaurants and bars have tested positive for COVID-19. We strongly encourage staff members who are regularly working and serving a number of people each week to proactively get tested regularly, once every two weeks. The City is making COVID-19 testing available for all business employees through Prompt MD’s testing site at our 605 Jackson gymnasium, on Mondays and Thursdays. All business employees (as well as all Hoboken residents) can sign up for a test at http://www.hobokennj.gov/promptmd, with the next testing date this Thursday between 8 am and 1 pm. If an employee of a Hoboken bar or restaurant, or Hoboken resident does not have health insurance, the City will pay for the cost of the test.

New Jersey Economic Development Authority PPE Program

Governor Murphy announced today that all businesses and non-profits in New Jersey are eligible for at least a 10% discount on PPE purchases through approved online vendors. Small businesses with 100 employees or under could be eligible for up to a 25% discount. For more information, please visit http://covid19.nj.gov/ppeaccess

Thank you Hoboken, please stay safe.

Sincerely,

Ravi S. Bhalla
Mayor

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