Hoboken Mayor: Kids Must Wear Masks In Playgrounds; Other Updates

Caren Lissner

HOBOKEN, NJ – After a recent period in which Hoboken had only one new coronavirus case in a week, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a Tuesday night update that there had been six new cases in the previous three days. Two cases were reported Monday, two Sunday, and two Saturday.

Last week, there were 16 new cases.

The city of 53,000 people now has now had 598 people with confirmed cases and 30 deaths of residents due to the virus. The city has not had any new resident deaths from the virus since May 21.

In his update Tuesday evening, Bhalla recommended that residents spend the July 4 weekend only with household members.

(To see what's happening for July 4 in our area, check out our guide, including an update on the Macy's fireworks.)

"In other states, such as California, reports have indicated that gatherings during Memorial Day weekend among friends and family with relaxed social distancing contributed to additional cases of COVID-19 and higher hospitalization rates," he said. "My suggestion, as difficult as this may be, is to spend time with only household members this weekend (and beyond whenever practical), and if that is not possible, to limit contact with others to outdoor settings, with appropriate social distancing, and face masks when social distancing is not possible. On the news, we’ve seen a number of instances where extended family members have spread COVID-19 to others through parties, gatherings, and especially in indoor settings."

New coronavirus cases are hitting record numbers in many U.S. states where precautions were relaxed, including among young people.

Playgrounds

Gov. Phil Murphy said that playgrounds can reopen Thursday. Bhalla, who had wanted to open them earlier but was stopped by the governor's office, said Tuesday that children over age 2 must wear face masks, and so must their caregivers when in the playground.

"Based on a number of factors including Hoboken’s low rate of infection and the physical and mental health of our children, we are opening up playgrounds beginning this Thursday," he said. "After hearing feedback from parents, taking into account the safety of our children, and considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are requiring any child over two years of age, as well as any parent accompanying a child, wear a face cover or face mask in a playground area or playground park (with the exception of a medical condition). This is especially important given the significant social distancing challenges on playgrounds. As we mentioned last week, city staff will regularly sanitize park surfaces."

Visiting other states

Bhalla noted, "The New Jersey Department of Health has updated a list of states that residents should self-quarantine for a full 14 days after returning from. These now include 16 states (doubling from last week), all with rising rates of COVID-19: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah."

Indoor dining

Outdoor dining is continuing in Hoboken, within limits. Gov. Murphy changed his mind about allowing limited indoor dining to start Thursday.

Indoor gyms

Bhalla said, "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.' "

Need financial help?

If you are an individual or small business owner in Hoboken who has been financially impacted by COVID-19, you can still apply for relief through the Hoboken Relief Fund. isit http://www.hobokenrelieffund.com to apply before the deadline of July 3.

Testing

The hours of the CERT hotline, for residents wanting a coronavirus test at the uptown Hoboken testing center, are now 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 201-420-5621.

State and Hoboken trends

Hoboken was one of the first cities to begin shutting down certain facilities and businesses in March. As some reopen, Bhalla urged wearing a mask and social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control currently recommends wearing a face covering to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.

More than 12,000 New Jersey residents have died from the virus. The daily death rate has been declining since Thursday, April 30, when the state reached an all-time high. That day, Murphy had said that 460 New Jerseyans had been lost to the virus in 24 hours, or one person every three minutes.

Hoboken announced its most fatalities in one day on April 8.

To read the rest of Bhalla's recent Nixle updates, click here.

Here are some other recent Hoboken coronavirus updates and reopenings:

TESTING

  • Any resident can get a 15-minute rapid coronavirus test at the Riverside site in uptown Hoboken by appointment by calling 201-420-5621 Monday through Friday. 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 on Monday evening.
  • 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.

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 hobkcirc@bccls.org, or call (201) 4202346, ext. 5102. For additional details, visit hobokenlibrary.org.

PARKS

  • Most Hoboken parks reopened last month, but not all. See the list here.
  • See above story regarding playgrounds.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

  • Kings supermarkets updated residents on their sanitizing procedures and on an employee who tested positive last month. READ MORE.
  • First Street will be reserved for pedestrians and shoppers this Sunday, and more restaurants are adding "streateries" for outdoor dining. READ MORE.
  • More than 50 of the city's restaurants opened last week for outdoor dining. READ MORE.
  • Two of the city's weekly farmers' markets reopened this month. READ MORE.
  • The city and Patch both have directories of businesses that are open and closed. Check it 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.

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.

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 local news? Email caren.lissner@patch.com. To keep up with local breaking news when it happens, and 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