Mayor James Davis called a meeting on Feb. 27 with city officials in Bayonne to discuss the novel coronavirus officially known as COVID-19.
This comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update calling the novel coronavirus a “serious public health threat.”
The CDC also recommended “disruptive” preventive measures to curtail the spread of the virus, including school dismissals and social distancing at work or in other settings. Examples include the cancellation of mass gatherings and remote-meeting options in workplaces.
The situation continues to escalate in New Jersey.
Bayonne currently has no suspected cases of COVID-19. However, New Jersey confirmed its first cases of the virus in Bergen County on March 4 and March 5. As of March 9, there are six presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
There are currently 27 Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 in New Jersey, pending testing in the state Public Health Environmental Labs, according to a March 8 statement by Gov. Murphy.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 has been identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness.
A coronavirus is a type of common virus that can infect your respiratory tract and can spread much like cold viruses, according to the Bayonne Department of Health novel coronavirus fact sheet. The new type of coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China in December of 2019 is infecting people for the first time, which means people do not have any immunity to it.
For confirmed novel coronavirus infections, reports range from people with few to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of the novel coronavirus may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.
As the CDC warned of the possibility for the spread of the novel coronavirus through communities, Bayonne officials met to discuss the virus.
Preventative measures in Bayonne
“On Friday, I called a meeting, in conjunction with Bayonne OEM, with all municipal department leaders and various community partners to discuss the Coronavirus,” Mayor Davis said in a March 1 statement.
Assemblyman Nick Chiaravalloti and Bayonne City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski were among elected officials at the meeting.
Mayor Davis said McCabe Ambulance, Bayonne Medical Center, Bayonne Housing Authority, and the Bayonne Board of Education also participated. The meeting is part of the ongoing efforts to ensure Bayonne is prepared for any potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the city.
“Our focus was to ensure that together, we are prepared to address this issue should anyone in our community, or in nearby municipalities be diagnosed with the Coronavirus,” Davis said.
The subject of the meeting was preventative measures as well as other actions to be taken by the city during a potential coronavirus outbreak.
“We discussed how information will be communicated with residents, various ways to prevent the spread of this virus, and continuing education as new information becomes available,” Davis said.
The NJ Department of Health has confirmed that there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in New Jersey, according to Davis.
However, just across the Hudson River, the first case of the novel coronavirus in New York City was confirmed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 1. According to Cuomo, the patient contracted the virus while in Iran and is isolated
Last month, Bayonne had its own novel coronavirus scare.
Coronavirus scare on the Anthem of the Seas
Passengers on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship were screened for the novel coronavirus after docking in Bayonne, according to Davis.
After further medical evaluation, Davis confirmed on Feb. 8 that the test results for the novel coronavirus for the screened passengers on Anthem of the Seas came back negative.
“After the evaluation at the hospital, the Centers for Disease Control permitted the four individuals who arrived Friday via a cruise ship to be discharged,” Gov. Murphy confirmed in a Feb. 8 statement. “Three of those individuals who stayed in the same cabin were diagnosed with the flu. The other individual stayed in a separate cabin and did not have any symptoms.”
The Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas docked at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port around 6 a.m. on Feb. 7.
Davis said that approximately two dozen passengers were screened on board by the CDC for the novel coronavirus.
Four of the passengers that were screened by the CDC were sent to Newark University Medical Center for further screening. According to Murphy, the remaining 23 passengers were cleared, while evaluations of the four other passengers continued.
“New Jersey currently has no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, and the risk to residents remains low,” Murphy said on Feb. 7.
Murphy reconfirmed this on Feb. 10 after the CDC evaluation cleared the four passengers of the novel coronavirus.
Royal Caribbean responded to customer concerns and media prompts on Twitter, stating it continues to work closely with the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and local health authorities to ensure the health and well-being of guests and crew.
Royal Caribbean said that preventive measures would be taken to ensure the safety of those on board in the future, conducting enhanced sanitation practices in the cruise terminal and on board. The company reiterated there were no current plans to cancel future voyages on the Anthem of the Seas.
Prior to the Anthem of the Seas incident, Murphy had begun prepping the state’s response to a potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
State preparations for an outbreak
Murphy signed an executive order on Monday, Feb. 3, establishing the Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate all New Jersey efforts to prepare for and respond to the public health hazard posed by the novel coronavirus.
“With the outbreak and rapid spread of coronavirus around the world, it is critical that New Jersey has strong preparedness protocols in place,” Murphy said.
The Coronavirus Task Force is chaired by Judith Persichilli, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health. Persichilli said New Jersey residents are not at high risk despite the ongoing outbreak.
In addition to managing the state’s preparation and response to the novel coronavirus, the task force will coordinate the state’s partnership with the federal government and Newark Liberty International Airport to ensure effective communications and dissemination of information.
Murphy noted that Newark Liberty will serve as one of 11 major airports in the United States authorized to receive flights from China that require enhanced entry screening for the coronavirus.
The task force will also coordinate with hospitals and other health care facilities to manage preparations for the possible treatment of patients demonstrating coronavirus symptoms or risks.
As part of the preparedness activities, the Murphy Administration launched a webpage with resources regarding the novel coronavirus, including travel updates and advisories and guidance sent to health care providers, local health departments, infection preventionists, and other health partners.
The free, 24-hour hotline for the public to ask questions about the novel coronavirus is 1-800-222-1222.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.