Westfield Suffers Its First Coronavirus Fatality Since July

Caren Lissner

WESTFIELD, NJ — As coronavirus transmission rates rise statewide and locally, a Westfield resident died of the virus this week, the first since July, Mayor Shelley Brindle announced Friday.

"We currently have two residents hospitalized, and local hospitals are reporting an increase in COVID patients admitted," Brindle wrote in her Friday evening update. "I am also deeply saddened to report the death of a 63-year-old resident, the first COVID fatality we have had since July."

In Westfield 44 residents have died from the virus.

Brindle said Westfield reported five new cases since the last update on Tuesday (none on Wednesday or Thursday, and five Friday).

"To put additional context around these very disturbing updates," Brindle wrote, "Regional Health Officer Megan Avallone reports that, across the eight towns managed by the Westfield Regional Health Department, there were 315 new cases investigated this week (up from 200 last week). There were also four deaths, which, like Westfield, are the first seen since July."

Cranford reported the death of a resident on Wednesday. That town also announced Friday that its schools will go remote for two weeks after Thanksgiving.

Brindle wrote, "The vast majority of the state, including our region, has entered the high risk matrix level, and the deep concern remains that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday weekend can result in additional community spread."

Read a Westfield case breakdown from earlier this month here.

Vaccines

"The good news is that, as you have likely heard, there are two very promising vaccines that are nearing readiness for distribution," Brindle wrote. "In fact, Governor Murphy stated today that, if approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA, New Jersey could receive its first shipment of vaccines in late December."

She said, "While broad distribution will be an ongoing task spanning many months, it is nonetheless very encouraging to know that significant progress is being made.As we wait for these vaccines, we must continue to be vigilant. I know that COVID fatigue is very real for everyone, but please continue to take all necessary precautions at this critical time. An indoor gathering for Thanksgiving with those who don’t live in your home is very strongly discouraged as the rate of transmission continues to remain elevated."

Statewide numbers and death trends

Last weekend, the state of New Jersey said it had confirmed the highest number of new cases since in April. On Sunday, the State of New Jersey reported 18 new fatalities since the day before, and a record high of 4,540 new cases, following 4,395 positive cases on Saturday. Before that, the

The state's highest one-day fatality rate was 460 residents on April 30, or one fatality every three minutes. Doctors have said that a number of factors are contributing to the drop in the New Jersey daily death rate since spring, including people getting test results (and thus treatment) sooner, more protective equipment available in hospitals, and doctors becoming better able to treat the virus. However, the virus still can have long-term effects.

However, the statewide daily death rate has been rising again too. New Jersey reported 34 deaths on Thursday.

Other updates

HOW TO GET TESTED

  • Union County has added mobile walk up test sites in addition to the testing site located at Kean University. Testing is free for Union County residents and is by appointment only with no car required; participants must wear masks and observe social distance. Any Union County resident can make an appointment for a test, whether they have symptoms. To pick a location, date and time, and to make an appointment online, visit ucnj.org/coronavirus-update/walk-up.

  • Union County residents who need to make an appointment by phone can call 908-518-4307 for assistance. Non-profit organizations and other community groups can call the Union County Office of Emergency Management at 908-654-9881 to request a visit from the Mobile Test Unit.

NATIONAL TRENDS

HOW TO GET HELP WITH HEAT, RENT, AND MORE

  • During the State of Emergency in New Jersey, no tenant is permitted to be evicted from their home or apartment for the inability to pay rent. Talk to your local mayor's office if you are experiencing difficulties.

  • The CARES act has made money available to help with rent in each city. More information is here.

  • New Jersey residents can get help with heating and energy bills. Information is here.

  • Various other avenues of relief and benefits have also been made available, including family leave for 12 weeks if you can't work due to your child's school or camp being closed, and changes to unemployment rules to help those who were at a job for a short time, or freelancing.

LONG-TERM CARE

  • Recently, there were 159 long term care facilities with active outbreaks, the state Department of Health said last month. The state announced that deaths at the facilities had more than doubled since May 1.

  • New Jersey residents became alarmed at the high number of residents who have passed away in nursing homes, rehabs, and similar facilities. The state announced plans in May to increase testing at some long term care facilities.

  • The state released death toll statistics in spring 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 New Jersey long-term care facilities 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 caren.lissner@patch.com. To be the first to get news alerts with breaking stories in Westfield, or to get a free local newsletter each morning, sign up for Patch breaking news alerts or daily newsletters.

This article originally appeared on the Westfield Patch