Hoboken mayor reminds residents to self-quarantine

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Mayor Ravi Bhalla urged Hoboken residents to quarantine for 14 days if they’ve traveled to states on New Jersey’s quarantine list and to get tested five to seven days after returning home.

The Hoboken Health Department reported a rise of COVID-19 cases in the city related to residents who traveled to hot spot states. Twelve of the 13 cases on Thursday and Friday were related to travel to hot spot states, and all were residents under the age of 45.

The Hoboken Health Department reported an additional four confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday, and one on Sunday. This brings Hoboken’s total to 616 known, confirmed cases with fatalities remaining at 29.

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah are all on the state’s quarantine list.

Even if residents do not have symptoms but traveled to these states they are encouraged to get tested because many are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.

“If you traveled to hot spots, you should act under the assumption that you had a high likelihood of infection and take the important precautions of quarantining and getting a COVID-19 test,” Bhalla said.

He said even if residents traveled to states that aren’t on the list but could have been exposed at a large gathering or indoor setting, residents should still quarantine and get tested.

“For the safety of our community, and especially Hoboken residents who are elderly or have pre-existing conditions, please do the right thing and take these necessary steps, even if you do not have symptoms,” Bhalla said.

He said the city won’t know the impacts of travel over the holiday weekend for at least two weeks due to the virus’s incubation period but noted that he had been in touch with the governor’s office which has indicated that if infection rates rise, reopening could be put on hold, and the state could reinstate stay-at-home orders.

According to the governor, today New Jersey had a rate of transmission of over 1.0 for the first time in 10 weeks. In other words, every COVID-19 case is leading to at least one other infection, on average.

 “It’s on all of us to take the preventative measures now to prevent this –  limit travel, especially to hot spots, wear face masks, avoid indoor gatherings, and practice social distancing at all practical times,” the mayor said.

Bhalla credited the work of the city’s health department for its diligent contact tracing as well as the 15-minute COVID-19 rapid tests available through Riverside Medical which alerted the city of the rise in cases which was the result of travel.

“Since the very first day of the first reported COVID-19 case, our Health Department has conducted countless phone calls for contact tracing for every confirmed COVID-19 case,” Bhalla said. “This has, without a doubt, prevented further infections, and likely saved lives. Thanks to Chief Registered Environmental Health Specialist Lynette Medeiros, Health Officer Nancy Tarantino and Director Leo Pellegrini for doing an excellent job in our health office and serving as a model for what contact tracing should be, and to Dr. Brahmbhatt and Riverside Medical for continuing to provide 15-minute rapid tests for our community and helping identify these recent trends.”

To get a rapid, 15-minute test through the city’s partnership with Riverside Medical,call the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) at 201-420-5621 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

CERT members will then pass along the resident’s information to staff at Riverside, who will then schedule the test. If the resident is returning from a trip out of state or the region, they are instructed to inform the CERT team of their return date and request a test after five to seven days since their return to prevent false-negative results.

The city will cover the cost of the test for those without insurance.

“As a reminder, if you traveled to a hot spot, please quarantine for the full 14 days even after receiving a COVID-19 test, regardless of the result,” said the mayor.

According to the mayors, dozens of residents who traveled over the holiday called the hotline for a test today and CERT members are working around the clock to facilitate appointments.

He said due to the high demand for test, the city also encourages residents to consider alternative locations for test including Prompt MD in Hoboken and other public locations throughout the region.

Additional nearby testing sites can be found at https://covid19.nj.gov/pages/testing.