HACKENSACK, N.J. — Bergen County Executive James Tedesco’s amended executive order calling for the additional closures of a larger portion of the business community signed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the county will not take effect.
During a press conference at Two Bergen County Plaza in Hackensack on Thursday night, Tedesco said the Murphy administration reviewed Executive Order 2020-1B and did not approve to enact his requests.
On Monday, Tedesco called for the closure of malls, shopping centers, offices, construction and business activity of any nature “until further notice.” He also requested that dentists office be closed with the exception of emergency situations, among other recommendations — to stop the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
“The Murphy administration stated that only closures that can be enforced are those issued by the governor,” said Tedesco Thursday night of the order which was scheduled to go into effect on Saturday, March 21. “While on Monday I stated that the enactment of Executive Order 2020-1B was under the direction of my moral authority, those recommendations were a direct result of the deep, moral and ethical responsibility that I feel will do whatever it takes to promote the health and well-being of the residents, visitors, and those who work in Bergen County. The severity of the situation in Bergen County sadly is much greater than any other in the state.”
The news of the Murphy administration’s rejection of Tedesco’s revised executive order — the original of which declared Bergen County a state of emergency — comes on the heels of 80 new presumptive-positive cases of novel coronavirus which were announced today. This leaves the current tally of cases between 194 and 205 in 52 of Bergen County’s 70 municipalities with three fatalities.
This month, three people have perished from COVID-19 in Bergen County. The first was a 69-year-old man from Little Ferry, the second was a man in his 90s from Saddle Brook, and the third was a man in his 30s. While the Little Ferry man, identified as John Brennan, had underlying health conditions including emphysema, diabetes and hypertension, and the second was in his older age, Tedesco had no information at his finger tips regarding the young man’s residence or his medical history.
“We lost our third Bergen County family member to this rapid disease,” said Tedesco. “If results continue at the current rate, that number is expected to rise.”
While the Murphy administration did not approve of Tedesco’s most recent executive order, Tedesco said he hopes at least some of his proposed stringent measures will be permitted for implementation in the near future.
“I offer my full support to the governor during this difficult time, but whereas some counties have yet to identify a single presumptive-positive case of COVID-19, the actions deemed overreactive in one county may not seem as not only necessary, but critical in another,” he said.
The revised order had called for the closure of non-essential businesses including retail, recreation and entertainment centers. Tedesco publicly thanked American Dream in East Rutherford and the number of malls and stores for voluntarily closing to “protect the thousands of visitors and employees” in Bergen County.
Since the implementation of his initial order declaring a state of emergency in Bergen County in early March, Tedesco took proactive steps to limit the rapid spread of the potentially deadly virus, which can cause the flu and the common cold, to protect the health of those who visit, work and live in Bergen County. These have included closing county-operated senior citizen centers; suspending visitation to the Bergen County Health Care Center in Rockleigh, an action Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus had followed suit; closing all 75 public school districts until further notice and commencing the transition to off-site, internet-based learning at the recommendation of the county health officer; banning official county government out-of-state travel; and closing all county offices and buildings to the public.
‘We will continue to identify areas in which additional measures are necessary and recommend that state-wide action occur,” he said. “Social distancing is one measure, the other is contact, and we have to make sure those that work take the appropriate action to clean areas they work in. For the time being, this is the new normal.”
Tedesco said the county continues to make strides to obtain the necessary supplies county hospitals need, in addition to the sustenance of the residents who may have been negatively impacted by the state-mandated closures.
To date, he said, the county’s purchasing department has made phone calls all over the country and to Canada to obtain the needed supplies such as hand sanitizers and cleaning equipment that CEOs from local hospitals are requesting.
Just today, county buses shuttled county residents to grocery stores, as well as delivered food to residents’ homes.
“We can’t give people money, but we can certainly give them support in regards to the basic needs they have to survive,” said Tedesco. “That’s how much of a commitment we are making to get the equipment to those who need it the most.”