May 29, 2020

Red warning signs at parks a reminder that COVID-19 still poses lethal threat

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Warning: this park may be hazardous to your health.

The red signs appearing in most Newark parks are no joke. They are urgent reminders to Newark residents that the COVID-19 threat still looms as potentially devastating to themselves and the community.

Across the country and in New Jersey, parks, beaches and other large-scale and roomy recreation areas are opening. The message Mayor Ras J. Baraka continues to convey is that Newark is different, not only in density of population but in the resident's vulnerability to the disease. Statistics show COVID-19 has been most deadly to African-Americans and, as of Thursday, Newark had 7,192 COVID-19 cases and 579 deaths.

Last Tuesday, the red signs began going up in City parks.

“We are going to reopen gradually and responsibly as we continue to assess the data and avoid the potential for exponential spread of COVID-19.” Mayor Baraka has said. “The restrictions we have put in place up to this point have been working. We don’t want to go backwards and lose the gains we’ve worked so hard to obtain.”

Newark Director of Engineering Phil Scott, who has led the City’s data collection, said the park signs are part of the Mayor’s plan to keep residents “educated and informed and aware of the risk they are taking for themselves and those around them.”

The signs warn that people with the co-morbidities that have made the disease so lethal to African-Americans – high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, asthma or low immune system – should not enter areas of recreational congestion, such as basketball courts.

The red signs are part of a color-coded system the Mayor will introduce in greater detail in the coming days to help residents make informed decisions has the City begins to take steps toward a cautious and safe re-opening.

The signs in the color-coded system will carry basic safety reminders to stop the spread of the virus, including wearing masks, frequent hand washing, maintaining social distance, covering up when sneezing or coughing and to avoid touching your face with your hands.