WESTFIELD, NJ — As the number of COVID-19 cases grow, the mayor continues to urge residents to practice social distancing.

In an announcement Thursday night, Mayor Shelley Brindle said that Westfield school resource officers who have been redeployed as community service officers will conduct documented checks to ensure that residents are not gathering at parks in town.

“Any observed organized or quasi-organized activities will be broken up by the police,” Brindle wrote. “Please adhere to social distancing guidelines so our police force can focus their resources on emergencies and community assistance during this difficult time. I do not want to close our parks, as I think their benefit is tremendous for all of us right now — but I will only continue to keep them open as long as their benefit outweighs their risk. Please do your part to flatten the curve.”

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On Thursday, the Westfield police also began making “documented compliance checks” of every restaurant in town to ensure adherence with directives set forth in the governor's order, Brindle said.

“Each restaurant will be checked at least once a day by our community service officers to determine that no patrons are seated/being served within the establishment, and that all take-out orders are being delivered or offered at curbside for pick-up,” she wrote.

“I try not to scare people, but you really do have to behave like everybody is contagious,” Brindle told TAPinto Westfield by phone earlier Thursday.

And while the town initially witnessed a surge of people stocking up at stores earlier in the week, she said, most residents appeared to be settling into new routines.

“People are saying ‘OK, there are still some aspects of life going on that make us feel this isn’t the end of days,’” Brindle said.

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As of Thursday night, there were seven cases of COVID-19 in Westfield reported by the Westfield Regional Health Department so far to the state — the three newest all men, ages 59, 44 and 40 — as well as one other man that Brindle knew of, she wrote.

“As testing begins to expand, there will be instances where residents receive confirmation of their diagnosis before it arrives to us through official channels,” Brindle said. “I will continue to report the numbers that the Board of Health receives daily, which places the total for Westfield at seven cases officially — although it’s safe to assume there are quite a few more in actuality.”

There are 742 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (up from 427 Wednesday), 33 of which are in Union County. Statewide, nine of those people died from the condition, state Health Department figures showed as of this writing. Those people included a Newark man in his 40s who died Wednesday, in addition to and a woman from Freehold whose death the state announced over the weekend.

In Westfield, Brindle also announced that she appointed Councilwoman Dawn Mackey and Councilman Scott Katz to lead the town’s business recovery efforts in their capacities as Downtown Westfield Corporation and Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce liaisons, respectively, in collaboration with both of those organizations.

Councilwoman Linda Habgood and Councilman Mark Parmelee, as chair and vice chair of the Town Council Finance Committee, will be leading efforts with the Westfield United Fund to set up a dedicated fund to offer relief to businesses and service employees impacted by the pandemic, she said.

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