UPDATE FROM MAYOR BHALLA ON COVID-19
As mentioned on social media today, some of our local heroes here in Hoboken include the Riverside Medical staff at the COVID-19 testing site under the 14th Street viaduct. Dr. Brahmbhatt and his team went above and beyond for our residents to offer the testing site to all symptomatic residents after we acquired additional testing, which they didn’t have to do. Instead, both Dr. Brahmbhatt and his staff are putting in additional hours at the testing site to serve our residents, not just their patients, at no cost to the City. On behalf of all of Hoboken, I thank the entire Riverside team for providing this critical resource.
Impact of COVID-19 in Hoboken
We unfortunately lost three additional members of our senior community today: a female in her mid 60s, a male in his late 70s, and a male in his early 90s. To the families of those who lost loved ones – know that my office and the City of Hoboken are here for you if you need a helping hand during these difficult times.
Today, 14 additional residents tested today positive for COVID-19, for a total of 269 cases in Hoboken. Since Saturday, Riverside Medical Group tested 134 residents which included several first responders, with 35 positive cases, 29 negative, and 70 pending results. These numbers have been integrated into our daily totals each day.
I know that a common request is to publish those who have recovered from COVID-19. Since it’s changing on a regular basis, our Health Department is attempting to help provide this information at the end of every week, as their primary focus is on self-quarantining any individuals who have tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19, and tracing close contacts.
Face cover requirement at all essential businesses
It’s great to see many more face covers utilized by both customers and employees at essential businesses, because it means that thousands out there understand the common motto of “your face cover protects me, and my face covers protects you”. However, there is still a rate of non-compliance. Earlier today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet, “The generations that stormed the beaches and marched for civil rights are most at risk now. They’re asking you to sacrifice by staying at home. Do your part.” While I recognize staying at home and utilizing face covers is uncomfortable, we owe it to the generations that sacrificed for our country and our rights, not to mention the fact that it could literally save lives.
In an order to facilitate full compliance, businesses are encouraged to turn customers away who do not have face covers on. If you own or are employed at a Hoboken business that is fully compliant with our face cover regulation and is only permitting customers into your store with face covers, we want to know! Feel free to post a picture of your staff with face covers (while social distancing!) on social media, as I’d be happy to highlight and share your commitment to keeping your customers safe.
As we communicated yesterday, non-essential construction will no longer be permitted as of 8:00 pm on Friday, given Governor Murphy’s new executive order. Essential construction is permitted, and is defined in the executive order as:
- Projects necessary for the delivery of health care services
- Transportation projects, including roads, bridges, and mass transit
- Utility projects, including those necessary for energy and electricity production and transmission
- Residential projects that are exclusively designated as affordable housing;
- Projects involving pre-K-12 schools
- Projects already underway involving individual single-family homes, or an individual apartment unit where an individual already resides, with a construction crew of 5 or fewer individuals. This includes additions to single-family homes such as solar panels;
- Projects already underway involving a residential unit for which a tenant or buyer has already entered into a legally binding agreement to occupy the unit by a certain date, and construction is necessary to ensure the unit’s availability by that date;
- Projects involving facilities where goods are produced for essential businesses
- Projects involving data centers or facilities that are critical to a business’s ability to function;
- Projects necessary for the delivery of essential social services, including homeless shelters;
- Any project necessary to support law enforcement agencies or first responder units in their response to the COVID-19 emergency;
- Any project that is ordered or contracted for by Federal, State, county, or municipal government, or any project that must be completed to meet a deadline established by the Federal government;
- Any work on a non-essential construction project that is required to ensure the safety at the site of the project
- Any emergency repairs necessary to ensure the health and safety of residents.
If a project does not fall into the above essential construction exemptions, the Office of Emergency Management and the Hoboken Construction Office will no longer permit that project to continue.
Virtual story time with the Hoboken Library tomorrow
I’m looking forward tomorrow to joining the Hoboken Library for a virtual story time on Facebook Live (facebook.com/RaviBhallaHoboken)! All families and children are welcome to tune in at 3:00 pm. The Library’s doors are still closed, but the library staff is hard at work to provide relevant and helpful content to everyone in Hoboken. Learn more about what programming options are available after hearing a couple of favorite stories.
Street sweeping is now suspended until at least April 17, so residents can limit outdoor trips to move their cars. As mandated by the Office of Emergency Management, all other parking rules and regulations, including meters will continue to remain in effect to help turnover in front of essential businesses including doctor offices, supermarkets, pharmacies and more.
Cleaning of senior buildings
In a continued effort to keep our seniors safe, we are utilizing additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for a complete sanitizing of three senior buildings in the Hoboken Housing authority at 221 Jackson Street, 220 Adams street, and 311 13th Street. This deep clean, in addition to the existing disinfecting done by Housing Authority staff, will help provide additional precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for our most vulnerable populations.
Approximately $18,000 of the recently awarded CDBG funding provided through the federal stimulus package to Hoboken will be spent to assist the seniors, along with the additional meals provided to help keep them indoors as much as possible. I thank Director Pellegrini and Housing Authority Executive Director Marc Recko for collaborating to make this additional precaution possible, and dedicated volunteers like Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro for helping provide important safety tips to the seniors on a regular basis.
Staying on the right side of the street
As mentioned previously, a good way to have social distancing on the sidewalk occur when out for essential business is by walking on the sidewalk to your right on a given street, to reduce the potential for conflict. An easy way to think about this is to walk on the sidewalk where your left arm is closest to the street, and your right arm away from the street.
Thank you, Hoboken, for everything you’re doing to keep your neighbors safe. As always, the best way to stay safe and protect our first responders, is to stay home.
Ravi S. Bhalla
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