JERSEY CITY, NJ - Council members Rolando Lavarro and Michael Yun were absent from the city council’s first on-line public meeting on March 25 after Lavarro tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and Yun was admitted to an intensive care unit showing symptoms.

Lavarro self-isolated himself at home, while Yun waited for test results in the hospital after reportedly having a high fever for about seven days and then suffering from a shortness of breath.

Meanwhile, local officials have established new policies in response to the pandemic, including increasing a community policing presence and emergency response.

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Included is the reestablishment of the Jersey City Police Department’s Telephone Reporting Unit, TRU, which designates a small group of officers to handle non-violent and non-emergency calls over the telephone to generate police reports, thereby freeing up dozens of officers around the clock for street patrol and response to emergency calls, officials said.

“Our police officers, who have remained steadfast in their duties during this entire crisis, will now have their operations more streamlined to respond to emergencies while non-urgent calls are facilitated accordingly,” Mayor Steven Fulop said. “Like most cities, we’ve seen an influx of 911 calls as people understandably have a heightened sense of fear and uncertainty amid this pandemic. This police line will free up our officers for better emergency response and ultimately to enhance the safety of our community overall.”

For all non-emergency and non-violent calls for police service, residents are urged to call (201) 547-5477. An officer will generate an official report that will be made available to the caller within five days.

In an effort to aid local restaurants and eateries who have taken a financial hit during the pandemic through orders to limit service to delivery or takeout, the city has created a digital business registry on its website, listing the name and contact numbers/emails for potential customers. The registration is free to the community.

“The reality is social distancing is saving lives, but it also has hurt the prospects of restaurants and food establishments. Our website has been the location where people can turn to get the latest information about the coronavirus in our community. This food registry is our latest effort to inform our residents while helping our small business owners,” Fulop said.

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