Newark’s Daily COVID-19 Update
April 10, 2020
Mayor Baraka was joined by a virtual panel to answer some frequently asked questions related to COVID-19.
Mayor Ras J. Baraka, City of Newark
Roger León, Superintendent of Newark Public Schools
Brian L. Strom, M.D., M.P.H., Chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Carrie Nawrocki, Executive Director/Health Officer, Hudson Regional Health Commission
Dr. Mark Wade, Director of Health and Community Wellness, City of Newark
Before the Q&A, Mayor Baraka greeted everyone and the presenters gave an update from their respective organizations/departments. Mayor Baraka asks for everyone listening to become an ambassador by sharing the information presented during the daily updates. Every Friday will have guests. As of mid-day April 10: 2,341 positive cases in Newark (106 deaths); 6,580 in Essex County (352 deaths); 54,588 in New Jersey (1,132 deaths); Newark is averaging about 200 person per day increase, compared to 100 per day a week ago.
Everyone needs to follow the Mayor’s advice. Prevention is key. Social distancing, staying inside, otherwise playing community Russian Roulette. Cooperation the best protection and cure.
Rutgers has been involved in planning for this pandemic since January. The school has 1,000 physicans, 800 residents and fellows, and provide the frontline staffing for University Hospital (the ones putting their lives at risk). To help with the pandemic, they graduated their New Jersey medical, pharmacy and nursing students early so that they can help. New Jersey Medical School has developed rapid testing that can give results in 45 minutes (still need to follow protocol and cannot just walk-in to University Hospital for a test). They are also able to process 10,000 tests per day in one of their labs. Additionally, they are manufacturing PPEs and have contacted several industries to be able to manufacture ventilators; established a COVID Center in Newark to do research on the disease; poison control center serves as the call center for the state; dental school has pulled out its dental chairs so the space can be used as expansion space for University Hospital. They’ve also provided parking lot space to handle morgue overflow; housing in dorms for healthcare workers; behavioral center helps with workforce and community stress across the state and centered in Newark; and have refurbished a laboratory center to decontaminate N95 masks. They are at full speed at trying to support the city and country.
Within the county all the public health agencies are working together: all municipal health departments, county health department, and the Essex Regional Health Commission. The Commission is involved with collecting data and assisting with contact tracing. With contact tracing, they identified and assess people who may have been exposed to a positive case and then determine those that may need to quarantined or isolated to the best extent possible.
Newark Public Schools reported about facilities team began intense cleaning and training, focus on CDC guidelines, students and staff preparation, and learning at home plans. Also, they have taught important health practices that students and families can follow, 16 food service program sites where breakfast and lunch are open M-F from 9:30-11:30am. Launched the COVID-19 Health and Safety Public Service Announcement with Slogan Contest – April 20 deadline – need student voices to shed light for everyone to see; help uplift those who may be sick and foreworn those who may not be taking this seriously. The week of April 20- April 24 is Spirit Week, every day there will be a different activity. Log on to the district’s website for details.
Are masks and gloves now mandatory for everyone? If so why?
Yes, per Governor Murphy and Mayor Baraka, mask or face coverings are required. They are to protect everyone from everyone. One of the most effective things we can do in preventing further spread in our community. When you wear it, you are showing love to the people next to you and around you; protect the vulnerable; think of others. People can’t assume they don’t have it because they feel fine. Up to 80% people don’t know that they have it.
Is the City of Newark giving out masks? If so where and how do I get one?
You can make your own mask/face covering. Police and fire department passed out some and City will continue to do so (limited supply so everyone is encouraged to make them at home.
If I only have the hard copy work packet for my child, will they be marked absent from school if they don’t have laptops to sign in?
Learning at home plans are designed for every day of the week and that’s what will be graded when everyone returns to school. You don’t need a laptop to sign in.
I have a laptop for my child’s learning but no wifi, is free wifi still being provided?
Online access is available from NPS and Altice for free. Communicate directly with teacher or principal, or can always call Superintendent León at 973-733-7333.
Will breakfast and lunch still be served during the spring break?
Yes, at the 16 sites from Monday to Friday. The list is on the district’s website.
Central Ward: Central H.S., Dr. E. Alma Flagg, Quitman Street School
East Ward: East Side H.S., Hawkins Street School, South Street School
North Ward: First Avenue School, McKinley Elementary, Park Elementary, Rafael Hernandez
South Ward: Belmont Runyon School, George Washington Carver School, Weequahic H.S.
West Ward: Mount Vernon School, Speedway Avenue, Thirteenth Avenue School
There’s a homeless guy I see sleeping outside everyday. Will there be a task force to pick up the homeless population that cannot make it to a shelter on their own?
City and Department of Health has contracted with Bridges to provide outreach and help for our Residents without Addresses. 9am to 11pm connect with individuals to come into shelter, although some choose not to go in we show compassion and try to convince them to get shelter. We are opening a location for those that are COVID-19 positive and one for those that are not.
Is it safe to reuse gloves?
Cloth masks can be washed and reused. Disposable gloves should be thrown away (in the garbage not on the ground). If cloth gloves are used then those should be washed after each use.
I’m having trouble claiming my unemployment. Is there another option?
There is no other option but you should go to www.myunemployment.nj.gov if you don’t have internet access you can file by calling 201-601-4100.
My work has been negatively impacted because of coronavirus. Can the CARES Act, the new federal law, help me?
Go to the Department of Labor website and you can also visit newarknj.gov as there are FAQs posted there.
Should my child be wearing a mask as well?
Yes. This is to protect the community as they could be carriers as well.
I know there are people recovering. What makes them ‘stronger’ and able to recover as opposed to someone else?
Getting COVID is not a death sentence. The infection rate is high for people under 60 and can transmit the disease. Those who are older and/or have underlying conditions are more likely to have problems recovering. People who come from disadvantaged communities also seem to have more challenges. No one is immune.
Are new testing sites being created and how do I get tested?
Weequaic Park – open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; also the Mary Eliza Mahoney FQHC.
People still have to meet the CDC guidelines for being tested.
Register at www.essexcovid.org (symptomatic individuals only)
If you don’t have a doctor and aren’t feeling well, call 800-734-7083
There are other Federally Qualified Health Centers that may possibly have tests but you have to call
Who can I turn to for help if I’m stuck in the house with someone who’s abusive? And to top it off, I just need help coping from isolation in general.
Abuse – Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center 973-733-7538
Mental Health – FQHC 800-734-7083
When can we go outside again?
Truth is nobody knows. We want to see that the rate of infection starts to decline and we are still on an upward slope; we also don’t want to see the opportunity for the infection rate to rebound. Think of this as a 2-year process; it will be that long before a vaccination is available although that doesn’t mean that everyone will have to stay inside for 2 years. The timeline will be dictated by the virus. We all have to be patient. This will pass.
Mayor Baraka thanked all police and firemen for passing out food and masks, the healthcare providers, Newark Public Schools for making sure education continues, and reminded everyone that we can’t get through this without doing it collectively.
Ending with a poem: Hope knows no fear. Hope dares to blossom even inside the abysmal abyss. Hope secretly feeds and strengthens promise. - Sri Chinmoy