ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — According to Mustafa Al-M. Brent, the new coronavirus took him “to the brink.” But after spending five days in the hospital recovering from COVID-19, the East Orange councilman says he’s officially on the mend.
And he's bringing a message of hope back with him.
On Tuesday, Brent – who is also a captain in the Newark Fire Department – announced that he’s recuperating after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“As many of you have been aware, I was diagnosed with the coronavirus a couple of weeks ago which ultimately led to me acquiring COVID-19,” Brent said in a social media video.
The virus has also sidelined dozens of Brent’s peers on the Newark Fire Department, as well as the city’s police force.
See related article: Coronavirus Sidelines Dozens Of Newark Cops, Firefighters
According to the councilman, the disease put him in the hospital with pneumonia for about five days. But with the support of his family and community – and some hardworking health care professionals at East Orange General Hospital – Brent said that he’s now on his way to recovery.
“I just wanted to reach out to you guys and extend my gratitude and my love,” Brent said. “We can win and get through this. But we’re going to have to work together. We’re going to have to listen to the advice of the people who have the knowledge about the virus and what’s going on with the pandemic, our local elected officials and those in leadership.”
“And stay home,” he emphasized. “If not for yourself, for the people around you that you love.”
Despite reports of a few “foolish coronavirus parties and COVID-19 cookouts,” Brent said he’s proud of the majority of his neighbors who have been thoughtful and considerate of the people around them.
“As my grandma used to say, ‘Let us all be lovely,’” he concluded.
Story continues below video. READ MORE: NJ Coronavirus Updates (Here's What You Need To Know)
Brent’s message came as East Orange joined three of its neighboring cities – Newark, Irvington and Orange – in a massive coronavirus “lockdown” on Tuesday.
See related article: Coronavirus 'Lockdown' In Newark, Irvington, Orange, East Orange
Residents of the four cities are being told to stay at home and come out for "emergency purposes only." Those who don't will face summonses, officials said.
All non-essential and non-emergency travel is barred on the streets of these communities for the duration of the lockdown. The operation began Tuesday and lasts for the next seven days. The lockdown will be reassessed at the end of that period, officials said.
According to the mayors, the crackdown is needed because some people continue to ignore Gov. Phil Murphy's recent stay-at-home order, which requires people to avoid mass gatherings and all unnecessary travel.
The order provides for certain exceptions, such as:
obtaining essential goods or services
seeking medical attention
visiting family or close friends
reporting to work
engaging in outdoor activities
"Many of us are listening, but some of us have not gotten the picture, which allows the virus to continue to spread," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said.
In Newark, for example, police issued 161 summonses and closed 15 businesses on Monday after they violated the city's ongoing shelter-in-place order.
See related article: Entire City Of Newark Told To Shelter In Place Due To Coronavirus
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