NEWARK, NJ — North Ward Center CEO Michele Adubato announced today she has the coronavirus from her hospital bed at Hackensack Meridian Health Bayshore Medical Center, where she is being treated for pneumonia. 

“This is Michele Adubato, and I have the COVID-19 virus. I thought I had done everything right. As soon as someone in my family became sick we separated. But it was too late,” she posted on the North Ward Center’s Facebook page. "In my case it has occurred in my cluster of family. Not the Adubato family but my blended family. Luckily everyone else who tested positive are doing well. Unfortunately, I am not."

Adubato said she chose to speak out "because this needs to be taken seriously. Please practice social distancing. Please do not go out for frivolous reasons.”

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Adubato is the third prominent figure in Essex County to announce she has the virus. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenizio also announced he’s positive for COVID-19 today, and Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontura tested positive on Sunday. 

New Jersey reported 22,255 and 355 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon and remains as the second-highest in the nation and a major disaster site. Essex County has recorded 2,262 cases and 69 deaths, the second-highest in the state. 

A seasoned educator and social worker with more than 20 years invested in Newark Public Schools, Adubato has focused much of her career on improving access to resources for individuals with autism in urban areas. Adubato founded the Center for Autism in 2010 to provide daytime care and services to adults with autism and their families. After serving as principal of New Jersey Regional Day School in Newark, she became the head of The North Ward Center, which was founded by her father, Stephen N. Adubato, in 1970.

In October, Adubato and her team celebrated the groundbreaking of Newark’s first supported group home, which will provide housing and 24/7 on-site care to four individuals with autism or intellectual disabilities in July 2020.

Michele Adubato’s brother, broadcaster Steve Adubato, Jr., told TAPinto Newark that he and his family are rooting for Michele's recovery. 

“My sister is strong, she is tough, and she cares deeply about the people and about the North Ward of Newark. But I also know that she very much wants everyone to follow all the guidelines about social distancing, staying at home, being safe and protecting other people,” Steve Adubato said. “That was a big reason why she wanted to communicate via Facebook, and the response has been overwhelming. It shows the kind of person and leader she is to, even though she is being challenged by this terrible virus, to want to get a message out.”