CALDWELL, NJ — After hitting the 50-day lockdown mark this week as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Borough of Caldwell has officially begun to see a downward trend in new cases as the curve begins to flatten nationwide, according Caldwell Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Coordinator Mark Guiliano.

During Tuesday’s virtual borough council meeting, Guiliano joined representatives from the police and fire departments, health office and the health and human services department in providing local updates on the coronavirus and the impact that the pandemic has had on Caldwell—including the future of the community center.

Caldwell had 102 cases and seven deaths as of Tuesday morning, according to Essex County reports. Data also indicates that nearly 20 percent of all cases within Caldwell are residents of the long-term care facility.

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Guiliano, who commended all first responders as well as the staff members who have been working “behind the scenes,” said that the West Essex First Aid Squad (WEFAS) has reported a slowdown in calls relating to COVID-19. However, he cautioned residents to be “ready for the end of this and for the emotional trauma and stress that people will be suffering.” 

The OEM coordinator also urged residents to be vigilant regarding social-distancing measures, reiterating directives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to continuing using cloth face coverings in public.

Health Officer Michael Fitzpatrick, who serves both the Borough of Caldwell and the Township of Bloomfield in this capacity, explained that the health department is obligated to educate the public about the pandemic and to keep track of all data associated with testing and mortality rates.

According to Fitzpatrick, the department’s nurses have been responsible for contact tracing for those who have tested positive, and the office staff is responsible for speaking with any individuals who are feeling anxiety related to the pandemic.

Caldwell Director of Human Services Maria Burak thanked residents for their “exorbitant donations” and for their efforts to help bring much-needed provisions to the food bank. Among the many local initiatives being undertaken by residents, Burak noted that $7,000 has been donated to the food pantry and 55 bags of food were distributed last week.

Police Chief James Bongiorno reminded residents that Grover Cleveland Park is open for passive recreation only and that residents are required to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. He also cautioned pedestrians not walk into lanes of moving traffic.

Bongiorno reported an increase in vehicular traffic, stating that 72,000 cars were accounted for at the intersection of Roseland and Bloomfield Avenues last week and that the tally has since increased to 90,000 vehicles.

The chief and his fellow local officials urged residents once again to properly dispose of all masks and gloves, stating that it is not only unfair to the public works employees who need to pick them off, but that residents are also endangering the health and safety of these employees by leaving these potentially contaminated items around town.

On behalf of all members of the fire, police and public works departments, Bongiorno also thanked the Smith Center for Infectious Diseases of Roseland and specifically Dr. James Irwin of Essex Fells for providing free COVID-19 testing to first responders.

Despite a recent decrease in calls to the Caldwell Fire Department, Fire Chief Andrew Pollara reported that protocol has been altered so that only officers are going out on general calls.