JERSEY CITY, NJ - Although Jersey City has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, it will implement a curfew for night clubs, restaurants, and other public venues, and cancel all public gatherings sponsored by the city, Mayor Steven Fulop has said.
At a Thursday press conference held at the Hudson County Office of Emergency Management, Fulop announced the restrictions come in an effort to curb any potential outbreak locally.
With an interactive map showing where outbreaks have occurred nationally and internationally, and the reality that many of those who have contracted the virus in nearby Bergen County, as well as New York City, may have passed through Jersey City, Fulop declared that the measures he was taking are in an effort to prevent the spread of the illness that has caused 36 deaths in the US.
Fulop also acknowledged that part of the reason for the press conference was to dispel rumors that are circulating about people in Jersey City who might have contracted the virus. Although a number of people have been screened, only four people have been tested for the virus, three of which have been cleared, the fourth still in the process, he said.
But, he and others warned, it is likely only a matter of time before Jersey City is confronted with cases.
Officials from Jersey City Medical Center said they are prepared to safely handle patients if and when they are admitted and that employees will have the needed protections to keep them from contracting the disease themselves. The results of the test take about 72 hours, during which time potential carriers of the virus are quarantined until they are cleared.
Among the adjustments to city business, Fulop announced that local government offices will only meet with constituents by appointment. Other non-vital services will be suspended, such as seeking of permits that would otherwise require. The city will also require public meeting places to keep track of their patrons in the event of an outbreak so that the city can determine who else might be at risk.
Jersey City Schools Superintendent Franklin Walker said that schools will remain open, but that plans have been implemented for possible closures which would include remote learning, study at home, and other programs using the internet. No one will be allowed to visit schools, and satellite cafeteria arrangements are being implemented to reduce crowding.
Incoming students from hotspots elsewhere in the country may be quarantined as a precaution, Walker said.
According to City Health Officer Stacy Flanagan, about 50 people have self-quarantined themselves after having arrived from areas where they might have been exposed, and others who fear they may have been can call 201-547-5208 and begin the process for possible eventual testing. Residents can also visit a dedicated website with additional information.
State health officials are monitoring air flights and alert local officials to those coming into Jersey City from highly impacted areas, Flanagan said.
“We’re thinking through all of these issues that most other municipalities aren’t faced with, such as our large uninsured population” said Flanagan. “Every day circumstances are changing, so as we continue to monitor the situation, we are making sure that our residents are aware of the resources we’re providing on a city-level until we’re in the clear.”
Fulop is also implementing a precautionary 10 p.m. curfew effective immediately for all Jersey City establishments carrying a liquor license in an effort to reduce large uncontrolled crowd turnout as an additional preventative measure.
“There is so much uncertainty around testing, who carries the virus, and how quickly it spreads, so we want to be overly cautious until we have some answers,” said Fulop. “The logic here is simple, if the conversation federally and at the state level is around closing schools, or what we would classify as controlled environments, in order to limit the spread of the virus, wouldn’t logic lead us to make sure we are also thinking about large uncontrolled environments until we have more answers? We want to take the necessary steps.”
Fulop also said steps are being taken to care for the city’s senior residents, whom he declared “our most vulnerable population.” Meals on Wheels will distribute food to those who are self-quarantined, with thousands of meals prepared to be deployed to those in need. While all senior events are temporarily canceled, vital resources and services will remain available to those who need it most.
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