New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced on Monday, March 16 a regional approach to combatting the novel coronavirus – or COVID-19 – throughout the tri-state area.
Among the uniform standards include limiting crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people; restaurants and bars closing for on premise service and moving to take-out and delivery services only and temporarily closing movie theaters, gyms and casinos. These measures went to effect at 8:00 p.m. on Monday.
“The federal government has to step up. They have been behind from day one on this crisis,” Cuomo said. “We knew this was happening in China back in November. That we are surprised in March and still scrambling to get testing in place and getting a health care system in place is inexcusable, and states frankly don’t have the capacity or the power to make up for the federal government. So we’re doing the best we can but we really need the federal government to do what it’s supposed to be doing.”
Lamont echoed Cuomo’s comments, adding that the “feds have been asleep at the switch” and that working together on a united basis would give “people that sense of urgency that we’re doing what we can.”
“If you have any option at all, stay home. If you’re over 60, 70, stay home. If your grandchild wants to visit you, stay home and say you’re going to learn to FaceTime because these are the folks who are, by far, the most vulnerable,” Lamont added.
Murphy said cancelling events with 50 or more people along with closing schools and institutions of higher education has become necessary in order to encourage social distancing and get residents to stay home and play their role in slowing the spread of the virus.
“We can’t say this enough that everyone needs to stay in and be safe,” Murphy said. “Just because you don’t feel sick and this is a particular shutout to our young people, it doesn’t mean you aren’t carrying the virus. The last thing anyone should be thinking about is going out and potentially spreading the disease.”
He announced later in the evening the third death of an individual with coronavirus in the state. The man, in his 90s, was being treated at Hackensack University Medical Center in Bergen County.
Bergen County has the highest case count of coronavirus in the state. The first death was recorded on March 10, the second death was announced on March 12.
State officials reported that the coronavirus presumptive positive case count had risen from 98 on Sunday to 178 on Monday.
Bergenfield declares state of emergency
The Borough of Bergenfield’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), upon the recommendation of Mayor Arvin Amatorio and the Council, has officially declared a State of Emergency in order to ensure that the borough has the necessary policies in place to respond to the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic.
“While our community has thus far seen fewer positive test results than some of our neighboring towns, we are taking this proactive step to ensure that we are ready to respond to an increase in cases among our residents,” said Mayor Amatorio. “Declaring a State of Emergency will remove regulatory barriers, and I am hopeful that this decisive action will send a signal to all residents to take this crisis seriously and practice social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus.”
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco on Monday, March 16 amended the Executive Order he issued last week declaring a State of Emergency in Bergen County to include the temporary closure of shopping centers, offices and other facilities. County parks shall remain open only for passive recreation in groups no bigger than four individuals.
“These decisions are not made easily, but I don’t want to be reading names off a paper of people who are no longer with us,” Tedesco said. “If anyone wants to challenge my decisions, that is their right.”
Curfew set in Jersey City
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has also closed bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, malls, gyms and fitness centers.
Fulop also confirmed that the city has recorded its fourth positive case.
“We were the first in the country last week to implement any restrictions on any sort of establishments in the city, and being that social distancing is the best solution, we will be expanding our limitations to different establishments,” Fulop said on Monday.
Aside from the aforementioned places, the following places will also be closed: barber shops, daycare centers, nail salons, and non-urgent medical offices including, dental offices, physical therapy clinics, chiropractor offices, and all state licensed cosmetology establishments.
All restaurants in the city are now prohibited from providing dine-in services, but will be allowed to have take-out, delivery, and drive-through services.