UPDATE FROM MAYOR BHALLA ON COVID-19
Below is an update from Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla for Hoboken residents:
First and foremost, I want to thank all of Hoboken’s community faith leaders for everything they do for our community. With Passover, Holy Week and Easter taking place this week, I know celebrating this year while social distancing is difficult on families who would normally observe these holidays together. I’m grateful for all of our faith leaders for organizing virtual celebrations for our residents that ensure everyone’s safety. We may currently be apart, but with our faith, we are together.
COVID-19 impact in Hoboken
Today, the Hoboken Health Department reported an additional 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases for a total of 293 cases, with an unfortunate two fatalities as a female in her early 80s and another female in her late 70s.
It’s a sad reality that those most impacted are our seniors, especially those with pre-existing conditions. We can all do our part to help protect our seniors – if you know of one in town or are neighbors, please do what you can to check in and see how they’re doing (while socially distancing), and to remind them that help is there for them to help reduce their trips outside the home. If you are a senior or know of a senior who needs assistance, please do not hesitate to utilize the COVID-19 senior hotline at 201-420-5625.
I’m saddened to share that one of our recently deceased was Josefina Viruet, a 79-year-old who lived on Hudson Street. Josie was well known in the community for her routine of walking her dog and stopping to chat with police officers by the headquarters every day. The mother of Hoboken Firefighter Danny Soto, Retired Hoboken Police Officer Frank Soto, and grandmother of Hoboken Police Officer Tyler Soto, Josie will be missed by all who used to talk to her and observe first-hand her positive spirit. My deepest condolences are with the Soto family and the entire Police and Fire departments.
Riverside Medical and Hoboken Health Department update
I’m glad to see more Hoboken residents receiving testing through our partnership with Riverside Medical Center. Over 164 residents have been tested, with 46 positive results, 36 negative, and 82 pending. Our call center to accept appointments will re-open on Monday and will be in operation going forward from 9 am until 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Any symptomatic residents should call 201-420-5621 in order to schedule an appointment through our Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
Recently, the results from the testing center have taken longer than the originally reported timeline of 48 hours, due to backlogs at the lab center and high volume of testing. If you’ve been tested and are awaiting results, please know that they’ll be provided as soon as possible. Still, the results of the testing provide results faster than if provided through State testing centers, many of which have taken over a week to get results. I thank residents for their understanding as we approach our apex in New Jersey and the surrounding area.
As I’ve received a few questions about the process for those tested at Riverside, anyone who tests positive in Hoboken – whether at Riverside or a private provider – is relayed to our Hoboken Health Department, which performs an investigation with those individuals and ensure their close contacts enter into self-quarantine. With cases likely to enter in the 300s tomorrow, I want to express my gratitude toHealth Officer Nancy Tarantino, Chief Registered Environmental Health Specialist Lynette Medeiros, and all health department staff for their diligence in these investigations, which can be complex and lengthy.
2 new ambulances for Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps
Our outstanding team at the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps has been working around the clock to keep our residents safe. Thanks to their team, along with the assistance of the Hudson County and Hoboken Offices of Emergency Management, FEMA provided the Ambulance Corps with two of the 75 ambulances from Indiana provided to the State to help with our COVID-19 response. These two ambulances will provide our courageous volunteers with additional resources to help respond to the higher call volume in Hoboken. Thanks to Tommy Molta, the head of the ambulance corps, and his entire team for being there for our residents.
Face cover requirement at all essential businesses
I appreciate the many Hoboken businesses which have diligently implemented our face cover requirement, for both all employees and customers. I heard today businesses like Vito’s Deli are actively enforcing this for all customers along with a customer occupancy in the store at all times. Thank you to everyone who has complied in order to keep our community safe. Our Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will actively be following up with businesses who are not in compliance. If you notice a business that is not in compliance, you are welcome to send a confidential email to assist OEM at COVID19@hobokennj.gov.
Hoboken Food Pantry update – 1,000 meals served
The volunteers at the Hoboken Food Pantry have been hard at work helping collect donations, and pack meals for our seniors and most vulnerable residents. Toni Tomarazzo, who is doing an incredible job leading these efforts, informed me that the pantry has served over 1,000 meals over the past two weeks! To set up this process to serve those in need in our community is no small task, and I want to provide my thanks to everyone who donated, volunteered, and organized this major initiative, including the members of the Hoboken Community Center, Office of Emergency Management, Community Emergency Response Team, City Council, and the Health and Human Services Department.
A quick update on our efforts to feed our seniors in our senior buildings through CDBG funding – since last night, 100 volunteers signed up to help pack and distribute meals. If you’re interested in lending a hand, you can still email Caroline Caufield at email@example.com sign-up.
Earlier this week, Governor Murphy mandated that non-essential construction is no longer permitted, while essential construction is to continue. In particular, the Governor defined municipal projects as essential. While several City projects will be put on hold, others will continue, including the South Waterfront Walkway Rehabilitation (between Pier A and 4th Street) and the Northwest Resiliency Park, which is receiving millions of dollars of FEMA grant funding to construct flood mitigation infrastructure. The Office of Emergency Management is ensuring that all construction sites are observing appropriate safety precautions including personal protective equipment and social distancing at all practical times.
Finally, I want to wish everyone who is celebrating a very Happy Easter! We’ll be sending our next communication out to the public on Monday night.
All the best and stay safe,
Ravi S. Bhalla
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