Westfield Families,

Hello all. I hope this note finds you all well and healthy.

My name is Anand Swaminathan and I’m an Emergency Physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, NJ. During this pandemic, I’ve taken care of 100s of COVID patients as well as working with hospitals and clinicians around the world in creating local COVID responses. I also have two kids in our school system and another that will be in the system beginning next year.

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I’m writing to express my gratitude to the community for the sacrifices everyone has made to work within our state and town guidelines particularly in terms of keeping our children in school. In August, when the hybrid plan was rolled out by the school board, I was hopeful that we would be able to provide in-person school for students. However, my optimism was guarded, knowing that our resolve as a community would be tested. I expected that we would have outbreaks by early October leading schools to convert to all remote. I have been pleasantly surprised, and this is because of the efforts of each individual in our town.

As the pandemic wears on, it is increasingly challenging to stick to established, proven public health measures — masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, getting tested when you have symptoms, providing information for contact tracing and avoiding gatherings (particularly indoors). Regardless of the mixed messages we hear, these measures are the only thing keeping COVID rates at bay. Despite our best efforts, cases are increasing in New Jersey. As of today, daily case rates are similar to what we were seeing in late May and rising. As a frontline clinician, I am already seeing a rise in patients at work as well.

Our community has done an amazing job making necessary sacrifices and now we need to make sure we stay the course. As the winter sets in, this will be increasingly challenging. Staying the course will allow our kids to have live classes longer. Of course, these measures will also serve to protect our community from illness. I am proud as a Westfield native to see what we’ve done; now is the time to double down on those efforts.

Stay the course, Westfield. Here’s what we need to do:

  1. Wear a mask when we absolutely can’t physically distance ourselves.
  2. Wash our hands.
  3. Stay physically distanced from each other.
  4. Get tested if you develop symptoms and isolate yourself.
  5. Provide information for contact tracing.
  6. Avoid gatherings — indoor and outdoor.

Our choices have made a profound difference over the last 8 months and continue to do so.

Thank you,

Anand Swaminathan MD, MPH
Westfield, NJ

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