March 24, 2020


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• As of today we have 78 confirmed cases in Newark; 342 in Essex County; and 3,675 in New Jersey.

• Dr. Shereef Elnahal, President and CEO of University Hospital, joined us to give an update. Message from Dr. Elnahal:

    o We are grateful for Mayor Baraka’s leadership in the City of Newark at this difficult time and for keeping the public informed.

     o Update from University Hospital (UH) as we tackle this ongoing public health crisis – as of this morning we had 7 patients at UH who have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and 38 patients who are under investigation.

     o As the only Level 1 Trauma Facility in Northern NJ, UH is uniquely qualified and experienced to take on this challenge.  Front-line clinicians and staff have been literally working day and night for months to make sure we are ready for the surge of patients that are expected due to this COVID-19 outbreak.

     o However, while UH is ready and willing to take on this fight, all hospitals have a finite amount of resources especially as the number of people potentially infected grows - which is why it is so critical that people listen to Mayor Baraka and stay home! Only by limiting our exposure to each other in the community can we slow down the spread of this virus and flatten the curve. Please stay home and allow the front-line professionals to do their job.

     o Dr. Elnahal is deeply moved by the incredible acts of generosity, both large and small in our community during this difficult time. Last week an anonymous corporate donor gave more than $2.2 million to the University Hospital Foundation specifically to support our COVID-19 efforts.  And since then individuals and corporations based here in Newark have stepped up to make donations of PPEs and other critical supplies; free food has been delivered for staff on the night shift who are working when access to any other food is extremely limited; and a large donation of candy from a corporation based here in Newark. University Hospital is proud to be Newark's hospital and never more so than now.

• More information about our food distribution initiative:

     o Beginning this Thursday, residents can call 973-733-5728 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

     o We'll have gift cards for the residents, but we'll be doing the shopping for them via shopping coordinators at ShopRite.

     o When the residents call, they'll be asked a series of questions to see if they are eligible for the gift cards. Eligible meaning that they do not have the financial means to get food in their homes or if they are seniors.

     o We only have a limited amount at this time so we are going to focus on seniors and those who need it the most. As more resources come, we will have the ability to get more cards.

     o We thank the National Action Network, Newark Housing Authority, and Neil Greenstein from ShopRite for partnering with us to get the food to those who need it the most.

• More information on our plans to help our Residents Without Addresses:

     o We’ve secured short term, rapid rental housing and aid for immediate housing of persons in need.

     o Locations are throughout Newark and not concentrated in one area.

     o We will provide on-site staffing, medical services, and food for them while they are there.

     o And we anticipate that we will have a little more than 200 rooms to assist our Residents Without Addresses and will be able to secure more space.

     o We will continue to share details.

• People should in fact shelter in place. When someone contracts the virus and spreads it to other people, we then put a burden on the healthcare system – and the healthcare system still needs to treat people in our community who have other ailments.

• We are testing at the FQHC and soon there will be testing in the South Ward in the park in Newark that will be guided by the County, with help from the State and the City. No one can just drive up – the process is that you go to a website, tell what your symptoms are and then appointments are given. If someone is not feeling well, the person should stay home or contact a healthcare provider.

• Residents are encouraged to reach out to their Federal representatives and President of the Unites States to say that we need resources.

• Thanks to the corporations who have helped us and those who haven’t are encouraged to help.

• HIPAA laws protect patients so detailed information will not be given about individuals who have tested positive on anyone’s block, building, etc. Once a person is confirmed, the Health Department monitors and the person shelters-in-place until person gets an all-clear that person can leave; if health deteriorates then preson is told to come to a healthcare facility; person is not allowed to leave home; so others shouldn’t be in danger. If someone does leave home, then the local authorities get involved. What everyone should be doing anyway is washing hands, stay in the house, clean down surfaces, not be in crowds of five people or more, practice social distancing (remaining 5-6 feet from people at all times), and wear gloves when touch surfaces to protect selves. Staying inside reduces probability of not catching the virus.

• The numbers in Newark are growing, so the Mayor will be making a determination tomorrow (Wednesday, March 25) on whether to expand zones exponentially or in a smaller way.

• People should not be visiting relatives, should not be going to the park with 5 or 6 people, should not be going to events or church, should not be hanging out in groups or having parties. This makes it more dangerous for our community, for the healthcare providers who have to treat the people, and for your family.

• If someone is from a surrounding city (i.e. Irvington, East Orange, Hillside, South Orange, Orange, Montclair) – our sister cities who we couldn’t function without – asking anyone from there to honor Newark’s 8 p.m. curfew while it is in effect and do not come to Newark after that time. Once things are back to normal then people are welcome after 8 p.m.

• Although there are mixed messages from Mayor Baraka, the State, the Federal government, Governor Cuomo in New York, the key thing is we have to practice social distancing and our life has changed for a while. Follow the instructions that have been given locally.

• We’ll get through this together. Let’s stay focused, unified, follow instructions and take care of our families.