UPDATE FROM MAYOR BHALLA ON COIVID-19
Organizing a food pantry on short notice during a crisis is no easy task, but I want to commend local advocate Toni Tomarazzo for helping lead the charge in quickly establishing a way for residents in need to access food supplies. In addition to her successful advocacy for saving Hoboken’s hospital years ago, her work with the Hoboken Community Center gives hope to those who are down on their luck. Thanks to Toni, along with the other members of the Hoboken Community Center, Community Emergency Response Team, City Council, Office of Emergency Management, and more, hundreds of meals are now available for those residents who may not have access to three meals a day due to COVID-19.
If you are in need of food, please do not hesitate to call the hotline set up at 551-285-6555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
17 new cases COVID-19 cases today
The Hoboken Health Department today informed me of an additional 17 positive COVID-19 cases today, bringing Hoboken’s total to 184. I thank the Hoboken Health Department for continuing to work diligently in ensuring all those in contact with any individual testing positive for COVID-19 goes into self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution.
Important: Both employees and customers must now wear face covers while at stores
Yesterday, we released recommendations similar to those issued by the CDC to wear a face cover when out in public. We continue to strongly recommend face covers for whenever a resident is outside his or her home.
Today, the Hoboken Office of Emergency Management issued a directive requiring that all employees of essential businesses, including but not limited to supermarkets, pharmacies and all restaurants and food establishments, wear a face cover and gloves while at work and serving customers. Face covers can include a bandana or scarf, or similar material. Face masks are also permitted, however N95 masks and other PPE are urged to be left for medical professionals and first responders.
Second, OEM’s directive today requires face covers to be worn by any customer within essential businesses including supermarkets and pharmacies. While this may be uncomfortable, our objective is to provide added protection to both employees and residents in indoor confined spaces with a large amount of people filtering in and out throughout the day.
As I stated yesterday, wearing a face cover does not at all negate the need for social distancing. Even when wearing a face cover, social distancing should be observed everywhere at all times, as recommended by the CDC, especially given that those who are asymptomatic could very well be carrying the virus.
Riverside Medical testing center update
I’m glad to report that thanks to our partnership with Riverside Medical Center, 24 Hoboken residents were tested at the COVID-19 testing center today. One of the major advantages of acquiring the testing ourselves and utilizing a private testing service is that we receive the testing results back within 48 hours, which we then report to the State. Other State-run testing centers could take up to a week for a result because the State is backlogged with tests from all other testing sites and the documentation that’s required. Receiving results quickly also eliminates a level of uncertainty for residents who get tested, which I believe is important.
As a reminder, residents with symptoms are asked to call 201-420-5621 to speak with a member of our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) to facilitate an appointment. Residents should not call Riverside Medical directly to schedule an appointment. To clarify a question I received today, taking a test through the process we’ve set up with does not require you to change your primary care service to Riverside.
We are also planning to expand those eligible to be tested for COVID-19 to cover employees of essential businesses in Hoboken that have regular contact with residents. This includes workers at supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants, and more. I ask store and restaurant managers to compile the information for employees who may need a COVID-19 test and email Office of Emergency Management Director William Montanez at email@example.com.
Disposal of PPE
I ask all residents, visitors and businesses to please dispose of PPE appropriately and not litter the street with it. We’ve seen an increase in masks and gloves on our streets and sidewalks which jeopardizes everyone’s health. Please, place those items in the garbage and have respect for your follow neighbors and keep our City clean and safe.
Staying home as much as possible
While I completely understand the importance of going outside to catch some fresh air, I again ask all residents to please limit outdoor activity as much as possible. Even though the weather is going to be nice, you are putting yourself at risk by going outside of your home more than you need to. Staying at home is the best way to keep yourself safe. As a reminder, congregating on the waterfront is strictly prohibited, and I again ask residents to please avoid the waterfront areas at peak times during the day.
And if you do happen to be outside, I’ve observed too many situations where residents are not self-aware of other people around them when walking down the street. Please be respectful of others around you and make the extra effort to remain 6 feet away from others by stepping to the side on the sidewalk, allowing someone else to pass on a narrow path, and remaining aware of your surroundings at all times so you’re not coming within 6 feet of anyone.
Finally, I want to extend my thanks to Inserra Supermarkets (ShopRite) for donating 2,000 paper bags to the Hoboken Food Pantry to help with food deliveries for those needing assistance.
Be well and stay safe,
Ravi S. Bhalla
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