Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla issued the following update last night on the City’s COVID-19 situation:

Advisory: Update From Mayor Bhalla on COVID-19 For January 19

The Hoboken Health Department has reported the following, new COVID-19 cases:

January 17: 21
January 18: 9
January 19: 41

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 2,514 residents have tested positive for COVID-19. 1,614 residents have made a fully recovery according to the Health Department, while fatalities remain unchanged at 39. Twenty-one patients with COVID-19 are currently being treated at Hoboken University Medical Center, which includes two Hoboken residents.

Update on vaccines

I’m pleased to report that by the end of this week, we will have utilized our initial allocation of 500 vaccines provided to the City by the State of New Jersey, the large majority of them members of our senior population. We anticipate receiving another 500 vaccines in the next few days from the State, and once in hand, we will begin scheduling additional appointments next week for those 65 years of age and older from our senior pre-registration list.

On the one hand, we are fortunate that as a City we are likely to receive 1,000 total vaccines from the State during the initial two weeks of vaccinations, and have a partnership and established infrastructure with Hoboken University Medical Center (HUMC) to quickly distribute them. On the other hand, it is still clearly not enough to quickly vaccinate the entirety of our senior population, plus those with medical conditions who qualify in the State’s 1B vaccination phase. As of today, we have approximately 1,900 Hoboken seniors who have signed up on our pre-registration list. At this rate, assuming in the coming weeks we will continue to receive shipments of 500 vaccines, which the State indicated may be possible, we could finish vaccinating the majority of our senior population by mid-February.

On a positive note, over the weekend an additional 400 seniors pre-registered to receive the vaccine, in large part due to the efforts of our volunteers and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) who distributed flyers and directly signed up seniors on iPads in six senior buildings. I’m encouraged by the level of senior sign-ups since the launch of our pre-registration system one week ago, and am hopeful even more will pre-register in the coming weeks.

The pre-registration system for seniors remains the same – those 65 years of age and older (or friends/family) can sign-up by visiting http://www.hobokennj.gov/seniors or by calling the Community Emergency Response Team at 201-420-5621 Monday through Friday, 9 am until 2 pm.

For those seniors who have signed-up but have not yet received a call for an appointment, please know that as soon as we have additional vaccines in hand, we will continue to call through the list and schedule appointments.

Pre-registration for those with medical conditions to be released by next week

Once we have finished vaccinating the majority of our senior population, the Hoboken Health Department will then begin vaccinating Hoboken residents with medical conditions as identified by the State and CDC in the current 1B phase. Based on a conference call we had with the State of New Jersey today, the Hoboken Health Department will be upgrading the current pre-registration system for those with medical conditions, as well as other anticipated 1C populations and beyond, in order to conform with the State’s reporting system and streamline the process with HUMC. As a result, while we had hoped to release a Hoboken pre-registration system for those with medical conditions today, it will now be released sometime early next week.

This will not delay the start of Hoboken’s vaccinations of those with medical conditions, which are not anticipated to begin through the City until at least early February given the list of seniors that are currently pre-registered who have not yet been vaccinated. Please know that our Health Department is working around the clock with the State to efficiently pre-register populations in a way that is acceptable to both the State and HUMC, and accurately report the results to the State Department of Health.

Lack of vaccine supply from the federal government

The State indicated again today in a call with Hudson County cities that the federal government is not shipping vaccine supplies fast enough to States, which in turn is not able to provide a greater allotment of vaccines to Cities and other medical providers including pharmacies and urgent care facilities. This is unfortunate news as we had hoped to use our partners to help supplement the City of Hoboken’s supply during the 1B phase, which now may not occur for several weeks. Only with a greater shipment of vaccines from the federal government, did the State indicate more vaccines will flow to cities like Hoboken and to other medical providers. I’m glad to hear President-Elect Joe Biden indicate that increasing the supply of vaccines is one of the top priorities of his incoming administration.

Other options for receiving the vaccine

As a reminder, for those who qualify in the current 1B phase of vaccines (seniors and those with specific medical conditions), Hudson County has a site open in Kearny (USS Juneau Center, 110 Hackensack Ave, Kearny, 07032) for residents of Hoboken and other Hudson County cities. Those who have the ability to drive to Kearny can register at http://hudsoncovidvax.org/. While appointments are currently booked through Hudson County, for those who sign-up, please continue to monitor the site as appointments could open in the near future as Hudson County gains additional vaccines from the State.

Additionally, Hoboken residents qualifying under 1B can also monitor other locations offered by the State of New Jersey, listed on the State’s website at https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/covid-19-vaccine-locations-for-eligible-recipients for any potential open vaccine appointments.

COVID-19 testing

The City of Hoboken continues to offer robust testing options for any Hoboken resident or business employee who wants one, regardless of symptoms. As always, for the full range of options, please visit http://www.hobokennj.gov/testing. This Friday (January 22), we have added a day of testing at 221 Jackson Street in partnership with the State Department of Health and Hoboken Housing Authority on Friday between 1 pm and 7 pm. Given the surge of cases in Hoboken and the rest of New Jersey, I encourage anyone who needs a test for any reason, to get one. It’s one of the best ways to protect our family and friends, and is there for anyone who needs it.

Finally, as before, our COVID-19 numbers and new infections continue to be extremely concerning. We can all do our part to combat this surge by avoiding indoor gatherings beyond household members, wear a mask, avoid travel outside New Jersey, and by social distancing whenever possible.

Please stay safe,

Ravi S. Bhalla