UPDATE FROM MAYOR BHALLA ON COVID-19
Below is an update from Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla for Hoboken residents:
Back in March when it was clear that there were substantial shortages for personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country, Hoboken resident Linda Kwok quickly sprang into action. Within two weeks, Linda raised over $20,000 from her neighbors and friends to purchase 10,000 surgical masks and other PPE for our first responders and medical professionals. She delivered these masks and other equipment, along with cookies from Girl Scout Troop 12563, to our local hospitals and medical professionals. Thank you, Linda and all those who donated to her cause.
Impact of COVID-19 in Hoboken
The Hoboken Health Department reported another 14 new confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday, for a total of 336 in Hoboken. A male in his early 70s was the 18th fatality in Hoboken, and we keep him in our thoughts and prayers. Overall, Hudson County has 8,242 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 277 deaths.
Self-isolation and social distancing is working
I know that it can be difficult to constantly hear about the amount of confirmed cases of COVID-19 here in Hoboken and across the country. But, the good news is, our early, our aggressive social distancing measures are working. We have less confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any other municipality in Hudson County above 50,000 people, and yesterday, we had only 13 calls to our City Hall hotline requesting COVID-19 tests at Riverside Medical. On April 3, we had 52 calls to request tests, 86 on April 4, and 31 on April 5. In order for the curve to flatten and ultimately decrease, we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to self-isolate at home as much as possible. Our collective efforts are saving lives, and we will come out stronger when this is all over.
But…we need to stay at home and limit our time outdoors
While we’re doing an excellent job limiting travel and remaining in self-isolation the large majority of the time, the one area where we’re still seeing social distancing problems is with a large amount of people exercising outdoors. I know it’s not easy, and it’s a complete change to our daily lives, but I’m again making the direct ask to each and every resident to exercise indoors for the near future. For anyone who normally bikes, jogs, does yoga, lifts weights, or any other outdoor activity, outdoor exercise makes it extremely difficult to social distance and puts others at risk. And if you absolutely can’t live without it, please do sooutside of peak periods between 1 pm and 7 pm, and away from the waterfront.
I recognize that no one can stay inside 24/7 for 7 days a week, and that short walks are important and necessary. Believe me, my family is just as upset as everyone else for not being able to go for long walks, run around, go to the park, or bike on the waterfront. We can’t wait for Hoboken to get back to normal. But the reality is, anyone going on our waterfront and exercising during peak periods, without a face cover, could very well be putting other people at risk due to the lack of social distancing. Please, exercise indoors, and if you absolutely can’t live without outdoor exercise, do so with a face cover during early morning or later evening hours and away from the waterfront. I ask each and every resident to please be considerate of your fellow neighbors and follow this direct request. I’ll reiterate that there’s no better time to sign up for one of our many fantastic Hoboken gyms, which are currently offering virtual classes that can be done from home and are a great workout.
Senior meal delivery
I’m very appreciative to the dozens of Hoboken residents who have volunteered over the past several days to pack and distribute meals to our seniors. We are adding seniors to the meal distribution through the City, and as a result could use more volunteers. If you have time over the next week and a half, please email Caroline Caulfield at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Packing Volunteer” in the subject line and include your availability and phone number.
Thank you to the many residents who have helped inform the City of businesses who are unfortunately not complying with face covers. City staff, with the direction of the Office of Emergency Management, are following up with each of these businesses to ensure compliance by both staff and customers. If they do not, the businesses will be violating both City and State regulations and will be subject to penalties. This is not meant to punish any of our small business owners, but rather to keep our residents and employees safe. If you know of violations of the face cover regulation occurring, please email email@example.com.
Community Development Block Grant applications
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the City is extending the application deadline for 2020 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects to Thursday, April 30, 2020 at 4pm. CDBG funding is available through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)for organizations and non-profits that serve low-moderate income communities in Hoboken. Applicants who have already submitted applications are allowed to submit revised and/or new applications during this period. Please email Marc Leckington (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request an application package. All questions should be directed via email to Mr. Leckington or by phone during business hours at 856-481-7040.
I’ve heard from Hoboken residents who are understandably frustrated with delays in applying for and receiving unemployment insurance. According to the State, additional improvements including improvements to technology, added personnel and capacity have been made to the system to reduce backlog. To apply, visit myunemployment.nj.gov.
Additionally, if you’re self-employed or an independent contractor and are impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible for a new program through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which can be retroactive to periods of unemployment after February 2, 2020. More information about this program, with helpful guides and an FAQ, is available at myunemployment.nj.gov.
Thank you, Hoboken.
Ravi S. Bhalla
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