NEWARK, NJ — The city streets rang with the sound of sirens this morning as a barrage of fire trucks and police cars sped down them, creating a blue and red light show that could be seen and heard far in the distance.
But the first responders weren't rushing off to a tragic scene or trying to break up crowds as they have been tasked with doing during the days of the coronavirus.
Instead, the men and women of Newark Public Safety Police and Fire divisions were creating a parade line with their vehicles with stops planned at the city's three hospitals: Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, University Hospital and Saint Michael's Medical Center.
The show of solidarity stirred the emotions of many tired hospital staff working to save patients from COVID-19, with some pumping their fists in the air as the sirens cheered on their tireless efforts.
The cavalcade started at Beth Israel before making its way to University Hospital.
“I want to thank Mayor Baraka, Public Safety Director Ambrose, and all of the hard-working men and women of the Newark Police and Fire Departments," said Shereef Elnahal, CEO and President of University Hospital. "The show of support today was overwhelming. These men and women are our brothers and sisters in the fight against COVID, and they are just as much on the front line as our health care workers. All of us stand united to protect the citizens of this City. We will all get through this together.”
After leaving University Hospital, the motorcade made its way to Central Avenue to Saint Michael's.
"Thank you all of you," said Robert Iannaccone, the CEO of Saint Michael's. "You guys are doing a great job. More importantly, we are here to serve you guys too. We are all so thankful of what you are doing. Thank you for this show of support it's much appreciated by Saint Mikes."
As of April 7, Newark registered 68 deaths and continued to lead the state in positive cases at 1,736. As the surge begins to take hold of northern New Jersey, all three hospitals in the city are being stretched to their limits to care for sick and dying patients. At University Hospital, more than 150 patients now take up beds in the emergency room, ICU and triage tents outside the medical center. At Saint Michael's, every bed is filled with COVID-19 patients.