HOBOKEN, NJ - As Hoboken prepared to hosted a 10,000 strong protest for racial justice Mayor Ravi Bhalla shared his concerns regarding social distancing and health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For anyone who chooses to participate in Friday’s demonstration, we ask you please wear a face mask at all times and social distance whenever possible,” Bhalla, in a joint statement with Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, said prior to the event.

Following the peaceful protest, Bhalla joined Governor Phil Murphy in suggesting that attendees get tested for the disease. According to the Mayor, out of approximately 1,000 individuals who attended the peaceful demonstration for racial justice in Hoboken and received a COVID-19 test through Riverside Medical, none have tested positive for the virus.

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"I believe this is in large part due to the majority of individuals attending the demonstration wearing face masks," said Bhalla. "I ask all residents to consider this correlation and please take the same precautions and wear a face mask whenever outdoors in Hoboken. In the absence of a vaccine, it’s the best way, along with social distancing, to keep our community safe."

Regarding his own decision to attend the rally, Bhalla said previously, "Many have asked about the juxtaposition of demonstrations for racial justice, including the one in Hoboken, with the national pandemic of COVID-19. The reality is that systemic racism and its impacts and combatting COVID-19 are both public health issues."

One day after Governor Phil Murphy expressed similar sentiment, Bhalla explained, "People of color have been the subject of institutional racism for generations, which has resulted in the brutal murders of people like George Floyd and so many others, all too often. While it’s unprecedented, I believe it’s our duty to do our part to combat both public health issues to the best of our ability. This is why my family and I made a personal decision to join in the demonstration on Friday, despite the public health risks associated with participating in demonstrations right now."

The Hoboken Health Department reported no new COVID-19 cases as of last Thursday, keeping its total known, confirmed cases at 572. Of the 572 cases, 330 have fully recovered. Hoboken has lost 30 residents to the virus.

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