LIVINGSTON, NJ — According to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), there are now at least 12 presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, including a newly confirmed case out of Essex County Riker Hill Art Park in Livingston, county officials announced on Sunday. In order to protect the identity of the individual, Essex County officials and RHAP have not disclosed the person’s place of residence.
Although RHAP is located in Livingston, Saint Barnabas Medical Center confirmed to township officials that no Livingston residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at the local hospital, and the Livingston Health Department has also not identified any presumptive cases as of 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Essex County Health Officer Maya Lordo announced on Sunday morning that a confirmed case of COVID-19 was identified at RHAP, although it is currently unclear how recently the individual visited the Livingston-based site. RHAP has temporarily suspended all classes, according to one of the resident artists, who said she believes the affected person last visited RHAP mid-week.
In a letter to all resident artists, Lordo stated that the county is “in open communication with the Montclair Department of Health and Human Services,” which has instructed individuals with possible exposure to “passively monitor for any symptoms for the next two weeks and contact their local health provider if any symptoms are experienced.” She added that any identified direct contacts of this newest case will be contacted directly by the Montclair Health Department.
Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez and the Livingston Township Council advise residents that the Township of Livingston has taken “a number of actions that are designed to encourage social distancing,” including canceling or postponing events and temporarily closing the Livingston Public Library, the Livingston Senior and Community Center and Livingston Town Hall.
However, all township departments will remain staffed and will be available to all residents via phone and Email. This includes all police, fire and emergency services departments, which will continue operations uninterrupted.
“The township’s health department will be fully staffed and closely monitoring any local cases,” the council members said in a joint statement. “This is the perfect time to spend time at home reading to your kids, playing board games, binge-watching those shows you have been meaning to get to and calling local restaurants to have dinner delivered…These town actions play an important role, but individual behavior changes are even more important. Let’s keep Livingston healthy together.”
The council also shared the follow “common-sense steps” that residents can take to decrease the rate of transmission for COVID-19.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60-percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
- Have your own stuff—Don’t swap unwashed dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding, and don’t use public pens.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Avoid close contact using social distancing.
“We don’t realize how interconnected we are until we are asked to avoid people,” the council said. “This means avoiding large gatherings, playdates or sleepovers. If you must be around people, keep six feet between you. This means no hugs or handshakes. Select off hours to shop. Be strategic when entering any location by seeking out the emptier areas.”
According to Lordo, reported illnesses in Essex County thus far have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness for confirmed COVID-19 cases. Symptoms to monitor that may appear two-to-14 days after exposure include fever of 100.4 or higher, cough and shortness of breath.
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The public is encouraged to contact the New Jersey COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-222-1222 (or 1-800-962-1253 for those in New Jersey who are using non-New Jersey cell phones). The call center is open 24/7 and has multi-language capacity. The call center is not able to diagnose individuals, provide testing appointments or results, or give specific medical recommendations.