May 23, 2020

Mayor Baraka Urges All Business Employees Who Have Contact with Public be Tested for COVID-19

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Mayor Ras J. Baraka has advocated a cautious, safe and data-driven strategy to re-open the City, aware that doing otherwise would cause a spike in COVID-19 cases and rekindle the disease to grow exponentially.

A news story out of Missouri further convinced him Newark needs to not hurry into re-opening, when a COVID-19 positive hair stylist in that state infected 91 customers in less than a week.

“That is scary,” Mayor Baraka said. “And when you think how many people those 91 people infected, and how many people they infected, you can see how quickly this can get out of control. That would be deadly for our city.”

As a result, Mayor Baraka is strongly and vehemently urging any business owners or employees who have contact with the public be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, especially now that the City has an expansive number of testing sites.

“Tests are available,” the Mayor said. “There’s no excuse to not get tested and act responsibly to keep the public safe.”

Mayor Baraka said the City has tested all of its frontline workers and is beginning to test all employees. Newark Public Schools and Newark Housing Authority employees are also being tested.

“The City is taking the responsibility to keep the public safe, and we are strongly recommending all businesses do the same,” Mayor said.

The Mayor also says customers should exercise their “absolute right” to ask business employees if they have been tested.

“We want to make that part of the culture,” Mayor Baraka said. “The public has the absolute right to ask if people serving them – the barbers, the hair salons, the nail salons, cashiers at the grocery store – if they have been tested. I think it’s extremely important that our people have information to make decisions about where they want to buy their food or get their hair cut.”

Mayor Baraka introduced a color-coded system at a press conference Thursday that would rate the risk factor of businesses and public places, with red being the highest risk, yellow being moderate, and green the least risk. He also said businesses must submit stringent and thorough safety plans before being allowed to open and part of the application will mention testing.

“Reopening the city has to be done cautiously and safely. People’s lives are at stake. These numbers we are seeing are not statistics. They are lives. Everything we are trying to do here, everything we are asking our businesses and residents to do, is to save lives.”

Testing for all Newark residents is available at the following locations on Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.:

Ann Street School

30 Ann Street

Walk-up only

Sharpe James/Kenneth A. Gibson Recreation and Aquatic Center

226 Rome St

Walk-up only

Boylan Street Recreation Center

916 South Orange Ave

Walk-up only

Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Rink

Park Ave entrance

Walk-up and drive through

CityPlex 12

360-394 Springfield Ave

Walk-up and drive through

155 Mt. Pleasant Ave

Walk-up only

Walk-up testing will also be available at the Mary Eliza Mahoney Health Center located at 394 University Avenue on Tuesday, May 26 and Thursday, May 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Health Center parking lot located on the corner of Washington and William Streets. The week of June 1, testing will be available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Health Center parking lot. Testing at this location will be performed using the anterior nasal swab, which is quick and painless.

Testing at all of the sites is reserved for NEWARK RESIDENTS only and residents do not have to have symptoms. Testing is free at all sites and residents with insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, should bring their insurance cards with them.

- Newark News