NEWARK, NJ — The COVID-19-related death-toll surpassed the 500 mark on Wednesday in Newark, the most affected municipality in the state, and while new cases continue to decline, the number is grim reminder of how the virus has left a trail of tears across New Jersey's largest city.
It’s hard to believe the devastation wreaked by the coronavirus has taken just under two months and so many Newarkers who will never see their city reopen. With no cure and no vaccine, the virus has caused more deaths than any other infectious disease in the 21st century.
Social distancing measures have left grieving families and loved ones unable to honor the deceased the way they might otherwise, a seemingly cruel addition to COVID-19’s host of traumatic consequences.
“In two months, we’ve gone from one person being sick to 6,430 people. We’ve gone from zero deaths to 511,” Mayor Ras J. Baraka said.
We took stock of a few Newarkers we’ve lost who made an impact on their community. They helped tell Newark’s story, here’s a bit about theirs.
DJ Hutch Hutchenson
Hutchenson died from the coronavirus in late March. The longtime DJ and Newark native was a regular around the city and greater Newark area, and could be seen spinning records at events like The Fundraiser for the Childcare Center in Montclair and Weequahic House Music Festivals. He was also a fixture at The “Tailgate Parties” during the Whitney M. Young Classic football game at Giants Stadium.
Daniel “Danny” Francis
Francis, 51, was a former East Orange police officer who later joined the staff of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office as an investigator. It was there he served 16 years in multiple units, including Narcotics, Special Victims and Homicide.
Francis retired from the Prosecutor’s Office in 2017 as a lieutenant and later joined the Newark Police Division on the Major Crimes Division as an intelligence analyst.
Sgt. Michael Clegg
Clegg, 53, was a 27-year vetern of the Newark Police Division and a member of the Newark Police Bronze Shield, an African-American officers' association. He served at the force’s 1st, 4th and 5th precincts and was known for his ability to listen when working with the community.
Officer Michael Connors, 58, joined 1993 and served at the 1st Precinct for the past five years. His superiors remember him as a pillar of the force and a dedicated public servant. He leaves behind two daughters, two sons and six grandchildren.