Mayor Ras Baraka continued urgently ringing the alarm bell this morning in COVID-19 ravaged Newark, which stands back where it was in April and May when the virus gripped the city, suffering a 19% test positivity rate, and 35% in one area.
“Listening to doctors and scientists; everything we’re doing here is based on data,” said Baraka at a press briefing this morning at the city’s emergency operations center. “It’s about health and data. That’s it. The decision should be about data. If the data is telling you the deaths are slowly increasing, then you have to do something. And everyone has to do more.
“If you really want to slow this thing you have to close everything down – but there’s pushback from people,” added the mayor, who decried as selfish those considerations that don’t prioritize public health.
“All this [business and economic considerations] becomes more important, because we’re chasing the next election,” said the mayor.
Baraka said Newark is cancelling all sports activities for two weeks. The city will create a designated place for all testing for athletes. “Our expectations is that coaches, trainers and athletes will be tested regularly,” the mayor said.
No gatherings of ten people or more.
10 o’clock curfew.
He said he’s been getting pushback.
“They called me the mean father; the bad guy; how horrible and draconian,” Baraka said, referring to the early days of the virus. By July, though, “people were sending me roses.”
Baraka said “more works.”
“We know for a fact that what works is shutting everything down,” he explained. “I would do it tomorrow.”
He acknowledged COVID-19 fatigue. But warned that if people let their guard down, the virus will spread with an even greater vengeance.
From the Mayor’s Office:
Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced at an Emergency Operations Center press conference today that the Administration is taking additional measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 is still on the rise in Newark, with the City reporting 13,225 positive cases and 680 deaths as of November 11.
In addition to the measures implemented on October 27, including the closing of non-essential businesses nightly at 8 p.m. (requiring restaurants and eateries to end dining-in at the same time), requiring beauty salons, nail salons, and barbershops to be open by appointment only, and gyms and health clubs to close for half an hour each hour for sanitizing, Mayor Baraka signed an executive order requiring further protocols effective immediately. The City will re-assess the situation after Tuesday, December 1, to determine the next steps.
“Newark’s prescription is not the state’s prescription,” said Mayor Baraka. “Newark’s test positivity rate is at 19 percent, while New Jersey’s is at 7.74 percent – more than double. “Stricter measures are required in the city’s hotspots in order to contain the virus and limit the spread. I know we are all tired, but the virus is not, therefore we must remain vigilant and do what is necessary to get this under control and save lives.”
The following will be strictly enforced without exception:
· Per the Mayor’s previous executive order, all non-essential businesses must close at 8 p.m. every day. All restaurants, bars, etc. must close their indoor service at 8 p.m. and deliveries, pick-ups, and outdoor service at 11 p.m. Due to the significant rise in COVID-19 positive cases, there is a 9 p.m. curfew in specific zip codes.
· For zip codes 07104, 07105, and 07107, a mandatory curfew is imposed. All activities must close at 8 p.m., due to a 9 p.m. curfew on weekdays, and a 10 p.m. curfew on weekends, unless traveling to or from work or if there is an emergency.
· In 07104, the boundaries are 7thAvenue to 2ndAvenue and from Broadway to Clifton Avenue.
· In 07105, this is the entire area, not including the airport or the highways.
· In 07107, the boundaries are 3rdAvenue North to Berkeley Avenue, and from North 3rdStreet to 11thStreet.
· All sports of any kind being played in the City shall cease immediately for a two-week period. During this time, all players, coaches, trainers, etc., must be tested for the COVID-19 virus and have to test negative to resume play.
- The City Administrators will work in conjunction with the Newark Public School Districts to ensure that all student-athletes get tested during the above-mentioned time period.
· When sports resume after this two-week period, all players, coaches, trainers, and staff must be tested for the COVID-19 virus every week.
· Those individuals not actively playing in the game must wear a face mask and practice social distancing (including coaches, players on the bench, referees, parents, staff, and spectators).
· The City will consider canceling, rescheduling games, and/or practices or any other activity for two weeks if two or more players/employees/staff, etc. on the team test positive for the virus.
· Any team or team member that doesn’t follow the face mask protocol may be subject to having their remaining games canceled, removed from the team, or terminated.
· Gatherings and/or events are limited to no more than 10 people. This shall not include any gatherings that include First Amendment rights (e.g. political and religious gatherings).
· The City will conduct inspections of all long-term health care facilities. The City reserves the right to cease, limit or prohibit any visitation in the facility if there is an increase of COVID-19 positive cases, or a failure to follow COVID-19 protocols.
- No visitation is allowed at long-term health care facilities for the next two weeks.
· Senior housing buildings residents are allowed one non-essential visitor per unit per day.
· All building managers/security must perform temperature checks of all individuals prior to entering the building. No one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside.
· Attendance is restricted to 25 percent capacity.
· Anyone speaking or singing during religious services must wear a mask (including pastors while preaching).
· No one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside.
· Restaurants, businesses, and offices must follow facemask protocols.
· All businesses must perform temperature checks of anyone entering the building and no one with a temperature higher than 100.4 degrees will be allowed inside.
· No holiday (e.g. Thanksgiving) gatherings or events of 10 people or more at restaurants.
· Reservations for more than 10 people are not allowed.
Dr. Mark Wade, Director of the Department of Health and Community Wellness for the City of Newark said, “The most potent immunization we have available is a decision to take personal responsibility to obey and model the recommendations that keep us all safe. We need each other to get us through this and to save lives.”
On Friday, November 6, Newark reported a test positivity rate of 19.01%, using a three-day rolling average, in comparison to New Jersey’s test positivity rate of 7.74%.
Based on testing information for Newark from October 25 to October 31, which counts each test, the city’s positivity rate is 16.3% and the highest rate continues to be in the East Ward (32.5% in zip code 07105), as well as in the North and West Wards (18.1% in zip code 07104 and 15.4% in Zip Code 07107). The city’s positivity rate continues to be as high as it was in May.