Newark, NJ — Surrounded by city and county officials on Sunday afternoon, Mayor Ras Baraka confirmed the city’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, putting Newark among six Essex County towns with positive cases so far. 

One more positive case is just under 18 hours into investigation, according to Marc Wade, Director of the Department of Health and Community Wellness. 

“We’re not sure if that’s a Newark resident, so we don’t have any information about that individual until we complete our investigation, but we are diligently pursuing that,” he said.

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Essex County Executive Joseph DiVicenzo, Jr. said that of the 11 positives throughout the county, two are in Nutley, one in Maplewood, two in Bloomfield, two from Milburn, three from Montclair and now one from Newark. The Newark patient is a male in his 50s who is currently self-quarantined and asymptomatic.

With no end in sight to the global pandemic, Baraka and city council members officially signed into place an executive order to put a moratorium on rent evictions and extend the due date for tax payments and fees for a 60-day period. 

The moratorium addresses city residents who have been affected by COVID-19 either directly because they’re quarantined or because they’re caring for people who are quarantined. The state is also preparing to put sick leave relief for citizens in place for those who must miss work beyond what their employers are prepared to pay them.

Baraka said the city will also continue to suspend water shut-offs. PSEG, the city’s power provider, previously announced it will not be shutting off customer’s electricity for nonpayment until at least May 1 due to the impact of the coronavirus. 

“If there’s no necessity for you to be outside, then I think you should be in the house,” Baraka said. “There’s no way we’re going to get through it individually, we have to get through it all together.” 

Cases of the coronavirus across the state continue to climb, with the latest count estimated at 98, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. All Newark’s major institutions, including Newark Public Library, Prudential Center, Newark Symphony Hall, Newark Museum of Art and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, remain shuttered for at least 30 days. 

Newark Public Schools announced on Friday that students will remain home until at least March 30, moving learning to remote instruction along with all the city’s institutions of higher education, including Rutgers University-Newark, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Essex County College.