New Jersey residents have been advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as Gov. Murphy to wear masks at all times to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
Many residents are also wearing medical gloves. Most delivery drivers and other food workers are wearing gloves while businesses try to stay afloat during the ongoing outbreak.
It might seem common sense to properly dispose of medical waste in the trash. But that’s not what’s happening.
In Bayonne, residents have been disposing of used medical masks and gloves on the sidewalks, in parking lots, everywhere except trash cans.
Mayor James Davis and other city officials have urged residents to desist but to no avail. Now, the city has launched a Public Service Announcement by the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to counter the medical waste issue plaguing the city.
“As we continue to manage our way through this crisis, we need to ask each and every resident to be mindful of each other,” the PSA noted. “Since most of us are wearing gloves and masks, it is important that we dispose of things properly. Do no throw these items on the ground.”
The PSA is only 37 seconds but makes a strong point. Nasty images of gloves and masks discarded on curbs, sidewalks, and other public areas serve as an urgent reminder to throw medical waste in the trash.
“Besides making Bayonne look dirty, it is unsafe,” the PSA continued. “Please dispose of gloves and masks in the proper way, your cooperation will help keep Bayonne strong.”
— Bayonne OEM (@Bayonne_OEM) April 11, 2020
A persistent problem
Davis first addressed the issue in a COVID-19 update on March 31. The city was surprised by the number of used protective gloves and masks tossed on streets and sidewalks.
“Please folks, be considerate,” Davis said. “DO NOT TOSS your trash on the ground during this crisis, especially protective gloves and masks!”
Davis asked members of the community to think about the safety of fellow residents. Residents are asked to dispose of gloves and masks in a tightly secured garbage can.
Despite the mayor’s warning, the littering continued.
Board of Education Vice President Christopher Munoz echoed Davis’s plea, taking to social media to spread the message and show photos of gloves on the street.
Improperly disposed medical waste puts the community at further risk of exposure to COVID-19.
“The community is urged to properly dispose of their gloves, masks, or any other personal protective equipment,” Munoz said. “Regardless, someone still has to pick them up and be exposed to unwanted germs. Please be kind and keep our community clean.”
Parking restrictions needed again?
A possible cause for such carelessness is the lift on mandated alternate side parking restrictions for the street sweeper. Ticketing has been temporarily suspended as well.
Residents are respectfully asked to abide by the street sweeping parking pattern so that the city can keep the streets clean.
In some areas, medical waste and other garbage has piled up due to unmoved cars. Another contributing factor may be the cancellation of the planned Earth Day cleanup that would have seen the community come together to clean sidewalks, parking lots, paths, and other public areas.
Bayonne is not alone in the struggle to keep potentially COVID-19 contaminated gloves off the street. Jersey City has been plagued with a similar issue.
As a result, Mayor Steven Fulop said that the city would try suspending street sweeper parking restrictions after the streets are cleaned.
“If you don’t want to be annoyed with moving your cars, then simply make sure you and other people you see don’t throw their trash on the street,” Fulop said.
In Union City, the problem persists. According to the city’s April 7 official COVID-19 update, residents have been discarding gloves and masks on streets and sidewalks.
The virus can spread if someone comes in contact with a sick person’s gloves or mask.
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.