UPDATE FROM MAYOR BHALLA ON COVID-19 INFORMATION
Below is an update from Mayor Bhalla to the Hoboken public on COVID-19 related information:
Thank you to the many residents continuing to practice self-isolation. Staying at home is difficult, but is a critical part to doing everything we can now to keep people safe and save lives. We know that COVID-19 can have very serious consequences for our vulnerable populations, especially our seniors, and ask that you keep them in mind in the coming days and weeks.
Six additional COVID-19 cases today
Today, we had six positive of cases of COVID-19, for a total of 13 in Hoboken. Overall, New Jersey (and the country) has seen a large spike in cases as well now that we’re seeing results come back from initial testing, so this is not abnormal compared to the rest of the region. Our Hoboken Health Department has been busy getting into contact with anyone who may have been in contact with them in order to self-quarantine. We expect to see a further increase in positive cases in the weeks ahead.
One common question we are receiving is if someone tests positive for COVID-19, whether or not that person’s building will be notified, or if those individuals and their whereabouts will be made public. The answer is that confidentiality laws prevent this from occurring. However, please know that a comprehensive investigation occurs by the Health Department, and that those in regular contact with them are notified and asked to self-isolate, as a precaution. I advise all residents to operate with the assumption that when you leave your home, that anyone could have COVID-19 and that any location you visit may have a surface with traces of the virus. That’s why it’s absolutely necessary to practice social distancing at all times, especially given that certain individuals may not be exhibiting symptoms within the first few days of actually having COVID-19. It also underscores the need to sanitize frequently when outside your home, and also after entering your home.
Getting tested and critical care only at Hoboken University Medical Center
I understand the angst and significant concern that many residents have if they are sick and believe they need to be tested. As has been the case, please contact your primary care physician if you have symptoms associated with COVID-19, who can assess and determine whether you should be tested. Unfortunately, as we’re seeing across the country, there is a shortage of testing, and my hope is that more tests can be produced and provided to our medical care facilities in the near future. One important ask I continue to make is to only go to the emergency room at Hoboken University Medical Center if it is a true medical emergency. I spoke to officials from the hospital today who informed me that they are seeing more patients on a daily basis, with significant capacity concerns and more presumed patients in the very near future.
Please practice social distancing at our parks
With the weather expected to be nice on Friday, I know it can be tempting to head to a park with your family or friends. We are unfortunately now having to operate with the assumption that anyone could have COVID-19, which makes it critical to practice social distancing at all times, and especially in the parks. Please, I’m urgently asking, do not congregate and ensure that social distancing is followed without exception. I spoke to Police Chief Ken Ferrante earlier today, and the Hoboken Police Department is going to deploy extra officers to more frequently monitor our parks to assist residents in observing this whenever possible.
Riverside Medical Group COVID-19 testing center
Riverside Medical Center, a local healthcare provider, is setting up a drive-through COVID-19 testing center in North Hoboken, with the exact location to be announced tomorrow. We expect it to open Saturday between 10 am and 2 pm. For right now, Riverside only has the capability to test patients currently enrolled in their system, due to limited testing kits. However, they have informed me that if they are able to acquire additional testing, it could be opened to the public, which I am hopeful can occur. Riverside patients should schedule an appointment by calling 201-863-3346.
Continued regulations and closures through 3/27
Although it is subject to change as we adapt to conditions in the coming days, we all anticipate all rules, regulations and closures currently in effect, to continue through at least Friday, March 27.
Gift cards for Hoboken businesses
One of the easiest ways to help our local businesses right now is to purchase online gift card, which helps practice social distancing. We are currently working to put together a database of local businesses that have online gift cards available, so residents can have one central location to purchase them. We could use some help in coming together with a list – please log on to my facebook page (www.facebook.com/RaviBhallaHoboken) or twitter (@RaviBhalla) and comment on the thread with information on any local businesses you know with gift cards.
Also, a tip I put out earlier today – when ordering takeout or delivery from our local businesses, please consider calling them directly, as opposed to a mobile application which may charge service fees. And please don’t forget to leave a generous tip!
Virtual town hall on businesses
It’s no secret that our small businesses and their employees are hurting. My office is working closely with our state and federal elected officials, along with the Chamber of Commerce to provide important resources for businesses including loans, insurance, and unemployment information, which we will be providing to businesses in the coming days. To that end, I’m hosting my second virtual town hall event on Facebook dedicated to providing answers to commonly asked questions about our businesses, and ways residents can help. I’ll be joined by the President of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce, Maria Nieves, at 2:00 pm on Monday, March 23, which will be live streamed on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RaviBhallaHoboken).
Federal assistance for small businesses
Earlier this week, I wrote to our federal elected legislators to ask for significant federal assistance for our small businesses and employees in the next relief bill considered by Congress. I’m pleased that today, Senator Robert Menendez introduced legislation to assist small businesses with the ability to access interest-free loans of up to $2 million through Economic Injury Disaster Loans. I’m hopeful this relief, and more through additional aid packages, will be passed by Congress soon.
Executive action by Governor Murphy
This afternoon, Governor Phil Murphy enacted a moratorium state-wide on removing people from their homes due to evictions or foreclosures. No evictions will be permitted for any renter or homeowner in Hoboken until further notice.
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