October 31, 2020

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From Asking For Ventilators To Zero Patients

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HOBOKEN, NJ — In late March, as the coronavirus pandemic was sickening both New Jersey...

HOBOKEN, NJ — In late March, as the coronavirus pandemic was sickening both New Jersey residents and their doctors who lacked the protective equipment to deal with it, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla shared a desperate plea from Hoboken University Medical Center: they needed 13 ventilators for critical care patients, and would run out of the life-saving equipment in a few days.

On March 26, Bhalla held a press conference next to the hospital, saying approximately a third of the hospital’s patients had the virus or were awaiting test results.

A release on the city’s webpage said, “The hospital is also near capacity of ventilators for critical patients, and is soon anticipating an additional surge of patients due to COVID-19.”

A CBS reporter who went to investigate wrote on Twitter on March 26, “I’ve seen 6 people walk into ER in an hour. All in masks. Can hear the cough from in my car across street. And it’s terrifying.”

Those who were in New York and New Jersey in spring may not easily forget the trauma of not only seeing loved ones ill, but being advised not to go to the overwhelmed emergency rooms unless they got even worse.

On April 5, the county’s surgeon general warned that the next few weeks would be the “hardest and saddest” the country has seen.

Since early March, 140,000 Americans and 13,741 New Jersey residents have died of the virus, including 460 reported on New Jersey’s worst day — April 30. Since then, the daily death toll has gradually waned, with Gov. Phil Murphy reporting nine confirmed deaths on Tuesday.

In Hoboken, the death toll stands at 29 residents, with 645 having tested positive and 376 of those having “fully recovered.” (Those who live with the virus for months, with longer-lasting effects, are often referred to as long-haulers.)

But Hoboken’s hospital is currently treating zero patients for the first time, according to a release. Mayor Ravi Bhalla confirmed the news on Facebook Tuesday.

“‪This is great news,” he said. “Let’s keep up the progress and avoid another rise in cases that previously overwhelmed our hospital. The best way to do that and support our healthcare workers is by wearing a face mask, social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings‬.”

Other states, where the virus is still rising, are now dealing with similar issues of setting new hospitalization records, although doctors have been able to learn and refine their treatment methods and use of ventilators.

Gov. Murphy this week has said that people returning to New Jersey after traveling to 31 states must quarantine and be tested. (To see a breakdown of deaths and trends in other states, click here.)

Those who want to get tested at the city’s uptown testing center should call 201-420-5621 (see more information below).

Here are other recent coronavirus and reopening updates in Hoboken:

TESTING

  • To get a rapid, 15-minute test through the city’s partnership with Riverside Medical, call the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) at 201-420-5621 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. If you don’t have health insurance, the city will pay the cost.

  • There are other medical offices in Hoboken with coronavirus and antibody tests; if in doubt about what to do, call your physician, then check with your insurance. Many insurances are waiving fees and copays for these tests.

SCHOOLS

  • The Hoboken public schools are slated to reopen Tuesday, Sept. 8, but whether it will be in person will be determined by the state. The state is presently considering in-person schooling, virtual schooling, and a “blended option” involving both. There will be restrictions, such as kids wearing masks and maintaining a 6-foot distance. Superintendent Christine Johnson gave information about the local planning process recently.

  • The state has said that all kids would get the option of remote learning.

  • The governor’s school reopening guidance was published on June 26.

  • The summer camp run by the Hoboken schools has been canceled. Limited recreational options have been scheduled. The mayor made reference to them here.

  • Day cares were able to reopen June 15, with certain rules in place, and recreational camps can reopen in July. READ MORE.

BUSINESS

  • Hoboken recently received almost $1.9 million in funding for small businesses, to be distributed in $20,000 grants. Read more here.

  • Hoboken businesses received government PPP loans to help with payroll, rent, and more during the pandemic. Read the list here.

  • More than 50 of the city’s restaurants opened the week of June 15 for outdoor dining. READ MORE.

  • Some of those have added “streateries” for outdoor dining. READ MORE.

  • Kings supermarkets updated residents on their sanitizing procedures and on an employee who tested positive last month. READ MORE.

  • Two of the city’s weekly farmers’ markets reopened in June. READ MORE.

  • The city and Patch both have directories of businesses that are open and closed. Check them out and add your listing. READ MORE.

  • The city will be closing off certain blocks for businesses to expand and draw foot traffic. READ MORE.

  • Here’s what you need to know about applying for unemployment and other benefits during coronavirus. MORE.

  • Read more about unemployment, small business, and other coronavirus regulations and benefits in New Jersey here.

  • States around the country have had to pull back on their reopenings, such as Texas, which closed bars and has seen a record number of hospitalizations and deaths.

LIBRARY

  • Residents can return library books and other materials by placing them in the library book/media dropbox in front of the library (500 Park Ave.) from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. The library will begin no contact “curbside pickup” service. Library patrons will be able to reserve the materials online, place their orders via email to [email protected], or call (201) 4202346, ext. 5102. For additional details, visit hobokenlibrary.org.

  • For a new update, see the mayor’s latest Nixle alert for July 18, linked above.

PARKS

GYMS

  • Bhalla said recently, “According to Governor Murphy, the following activities are permitted at indoor gyms starting July 2, as provided by his office: ‘individualized indoor instruction by appointment only where an instructor is offering training to an individual, and the individual’s immediate family members, household members, caretakers, or romantic partners. If a gym or fitness center is offering multiple simultaneous instructions at the same facility, these instructions must take place in separate rooms or, if they take place in the same room, must be separated by a floor-to-ceiling barrier that complies with all fire code requirements.’ “

NURSING HOMES

  • New Jersey residents have become alarmed at the high number of residents who have passed away in nursing homes, rehabs, and similar facilities, and have charged that the facilities are undercounting the numbers and not adequately protecting residents and staff. The state has faced questions for weeks from the press about how they will address the problems. They announced plans last month to increase testing at some long term care facilities and to bring in the National Guard to help make changes.

  • The state has begun releasing death toll statistics for long-term care facilities like rehabs and nursing homes. See the list here.

  • You can report problems with long term care facilities here, or if you suspect coronavirus related misconduct, here.

  • Some nursing homes reopened for limited visits, with precautions, in July.

Here are statewide coronavirus resources:

  • NJ COVID-19 Information Hub: https://covid19.nj.gov/

  • General COVID-19 questions: 2-1-1

  • NJ COVID-19 hotline: (800) 222-1222

Got news? Email [email protected] To keep up with breaking news in Hoboken as soon as it happens, or to get a free local newsletter each morning, sign up for Patch breaking news alerts and daily newsletters.

This article originally appeared on the Hoboken Patch

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