WESTFIELD, NJ — Health officials are reaching out to “close contacts” of a fourth town resident confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus, the mayor said Wednesday night.
The 56-year-old Westfield man confirmed to have COVID-19 is “stable and managing symptoms at home,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle in a statement. The man is among 26 people known to have the condition in Union County and 427 people statewide, Brindle said, citing Health Department figures. It is a figure anticipated to rise exponentially as more testing becomes available.
In Westfield, health officials are tracking people down known to have had contact with the latest confirmed COVID-19 patient, Brindle said. Those people will be asked to stay home in “self-quarantine” for 14 days, she said.
Earlier in the day, Brindle reiterated state guidelines for social distancing as a means to mitigate the virus’ spread. Several days ago, the local health officer had advised that play dates could be safe. By Wednesday, that was no longer the case.
“Social distancing is the last thing that people want to do during a time of distress,” said Brindle in a live streamed update Wednesday. “We want to come together as a community; we’re just going to have to find creative ways to do that.”
In addition to the case confirmed Wednesday, Westfield residents with the virus range in age from 35 to 56, according municipal officials. They are as follows:
Westfield Regional Health Department Officer Megan Avallone said authorities have a responsibility to maintain the patients’ confidentiality.
“By starting to release where people were at what times along with their age and sex, I strongly feel as a nurse that that could be identifying information,” Avallone said, responding to calls from members of the public for more specifics during a briefing earlier in the day.
With the Municipal Building shut to the public, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said most employees were working from home if their jobs allowed.
“This is a surreal time at town hall. The public center is closed to the public,” Gildea said. Public fields in Westfield are closed and permits for their use have been revoked, he said.
The municipal budget introduction originally set for next week is postponed, Gildea said. The COVID-19 pandemic will impact revenues with anticipated reductions in monies from court and construction fees, he said.
Authorities shuttered park bathrooms across Union County after people stole toilet paper and soap, Gildea said. The town closed its own facilities, he said.
Westfield police have reassigned parking and school resource to duties related to COVID-19, Chief Christopher Battiloro said. Duties include enforcing the mandate for curbside delivery of takeout food and attending to other community needs during the pandemic, Battiloro said.
Throughout the day, local officials in nearby towns continued to confirm cases of COVID-19 and reach out to known contacts. These people include a Cranford public school teacher and a Fanwood police officer. In Springfield, police shut down a supermarket for a brief time to investigate reports that a person with flu-like symptoms had been hospitalized.
In Westfield, the public has reached out with numerous offers to help, Brindle said. The Westfield United Fund is anticipated to be the go-to for local donations, Brindle said.
TAPinto.net Editors Matthew Kass, John Mooney and Robert Ramirez contributed reporting.
View the town of Westfield's 10 a.m. March 18 COVID-19 briefing: