(EAST ORANGE, NJ) - On Thursday, April 9, 2020, Mayor Ted R. Green held his 4th COVID-19 virtual town hall with special guest Congressman Donald Payne, Jr.
The Mayor opened up with remarks about the success of the Mayor’s lockdown initiative.
The Mayor had on as a special guest, reporting from the federal level, Congressman Payne, Jr.
The Congressman expressed gladness to speak directly to the residents in the East Orange, which is one of eighteen municipalities in his district.
Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. acknowledged Coronavirus has impacted every aspect of American life, but said it does not have to cripple American life. He gave an overview of three federal bills to help provide relief:
1. Provides proper healthcare and supplies to healthcare facilities in which he stated the country is unfortunately still behind on.
2. Expands eligibility of people to take paid sick leave, while ensuring all Americans have access to free coronavirus testing. This is an expansion of what is already in the community, such as the Essex County testing site in Weequahic Park, Newark.
3. This bill is the one most people are familiar with. It will provide direct financial assistance to Americans in the form of checks with the amount received based on income. Individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less would get payments of $1,200 each, with married couples earning up to $150,000 receiving $2,400, and an additional $500 per each child, phasing out entirely at $99,000 for singles and $198,000 for couples without children.
Congressman Payne made clear he is not pleased with the Trump Administration. The Congressman said the President has failed to use all powers available to get medical supplies to people who needed them the most.
Not being able to rely on President Trump for aid, the Congressman sprung into action. He spoke directly to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and found out NJ needs 2,000 ventilators and supplies. The Congressman located a ventilator supplier that can produce ventilators quickly. He wrote a letter to the FDA asking for expedited approval of the design. NJ is in process of getting more ventilators.
Congressman Payne said he was just naming a few of the many actions that he has taken to help the district. He also updated his website to include a list of resources.
Congressman Payne mentioned being a dialysis patient himself and knowing people with diabetes is a part of the most vulnerable COVID-19 population. Due to this fact, the Congressman is quarantined in Washington and encourages all others to practice social distancing.
East Orange Health Director Doctor Monique Griffith also spoke and provided an update on East Orange COVID-19 cases. As of Thursday, there were 618 known positive cases in East Orange and 14 known COVID-19 related deaths.
The Director stressed the importance of using a mask, and reminded people to cover both their mouths and nose. Seniors without masks are encouraged to Contact Rita Butts, the Manager of Senior Services.
The Director reminded residents that even people who show no symptoms can still spread this virus. Dr. Director Griffith also dispelled rumors about it being thought the impending heat from the summer months would kill the virus, “the weather and temperature do not matter,” she stated and encouraged people to keep practicing social distancing as the virus spreads regardless of weather conditions.
A doctor representing East Orange General Hospital stated 350 people or so had come into the emergency room and were diagnosed with COVID-19; "of the 350, 78 were sick enough to be hospitalized; of those 78 about 30% improved and have been discharged; 50% or so are still in the hospital." The doctor stressed that although this is good news, “we are not out of the woods yet.” He went on to say, “this is a disease that does not discriminate against ages, genders, etc.”
The doctor also announced East Orange General Hospital is working with the American Red Cross and University Hospital to use cutting edge treatments by taking antibodies from the blood plasma of patients who recovered from the virus to get to a cure.
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