July 14, 2020

With science on his side, Mayor orders Newark to ‘Mask Up’

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka has asked the Newark community for cooperation in combating the disease, and more than once invoked the words “Civic Duty” when unveiling shelter in place rules in March and April.

The Mayor is again asking residents to think of the common good and protect family, friends and neighbors through the City’s new #MaskUpNewark campaign.

“Protecting the people of Newark against the spread of COVID-19 is our primary goal,” Mayor Baraka said. “We have to continue to work hard to save our community.”

Newark’s COVID-19 infection rate has fallen to 5 percent of those people tested, which remains slightly higher than state levels but indicates the City is moving in the right direction.

The empowering #MaskUpNewark promotion encourages each person to do their part in continuing to curtail the spread of the virus.

Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered all New Jersey residents to wear masks outdoors to keep COVID-19 from spiking again in the state as it has in many places.

The United States has now recorded 3 million COVID-19 cases and 132,000 deaths. As states begin to reopen without mask requirements in place cases have spiked, especially in the South. July 8 saw 60,000 new cases of coronavirus nationwide, a one-day record.

There is scientific data that proves masks cut down the transmission of viruses like COVID-19.

Dr. Stephanie Silvera, a public health professor at Montclair State University and an expert in epidemiology, was recently quoted by saying universal mask wearing could cut the number of project deaths by 45 percent.

“If we want to think about reducing mortality, reducing the burden of illness, it’s a fairly small ask of the population,” she said.

Another recent scientific study also supports the Mayor’s assertion. The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics predicts that if 95 percent of Americans wore masks in public, it would reduce COVID-19 deaths by 58 percent, preventing about 45,000 of projected deaths by Nov. 1.

By adhering to City mask requirements, the life you save may be your own, or that of a loved one, as the same study showed wearing masks can cut the transmission of the disease by as much as 50 percent.

“While the risk of COVID-19 transmission is reduced in outdoor spaces more than indoors, people gathered outside in groups who aren’t practicing social distance still create a danger of spreading this virus from person-to-person,” Mayor Baraka said. “That’s why wearing masks outdoors has become mandatory.”

The City plans to enforce the order by first warning individuals who are not wearing masks or observing social distancing requirements of staying six feet apart.

Public Safety Director Ambrose F. Ambrose says police will begin enforcement on Thursday, July 17th.

“COVID-19 poses a credible threat to the safety of our residents,” Director Ambrose said. “While it’s natural for people to spend time congregating at outdoor public spaces during the summer months, we must make every effort to limit exposure to this deadly virus.”

Outdoor areas defined by the governor’s order include food or beverage establishments offering in-person services, outdoor bars, beaches, boardwalks, and recreational and entertainment businesses that open their outdoor areas to the public.

The order excludes children under 2-years old, people eating or drinking at outdoor dining areas, and cases when wearing a mask would inhibit an individual’s health.