Hoboken officials are asking residents to postpone traveling and limit gatherings this holiday season because the Coronavirus continues to spread COVID 19 at a rate of transmission of 1.12 in New Jersey.
Indoor gatherings among non-household members remain one of the top ways COVID-19 is spreading among residents, according to contact tracing from the Health Department.
“I know it can be disappointing and upsetting to stay home,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “But keeping our family and friends safe, especially those who are elderly and at-risk is the best thing we can do for them during the pandemic.”
For those who are making the decision to see friends and family beyond the household, the city recommends that attendance be limited, attendees wear face masks, social distance, and that gatherings should be held outside if possible, weather permitting.
The city recommends that attendees get tested before gathering and quarantine before seeing friends and family as well before and after testing.
To help residents, Hoboken will offer additional testing options before Christmas. The city asks residents to plan ahead and get tested as soon as possible instead of waiting until the week of Dec. 21.
“This will help prevent a situation when a test result is not received in time, as it could take 72 hours or more to receive a result due to high volumes at laboratories as we observed during the Thanksgiving week,” Bhalla said.
He noted that a mistake residents are continuing to make is getting tested too early after potential exposure to an infected individual.
Those seeking a test should wait five to seven days after exposure. Getting tested sooner could mean getting false-negative results.
Hoboken recently added a new testing page to the city’s website that will be updated each weekend, listing the testing options for the week.
For more information on testing options go to the new page at http://www.hobokennj.gov/testing.
Hoboken will offer door-to-door testing for seniors in senior buildings next week to provide expanded testing to the city’s vulnerable populations before the holidays.
This week Hoboken offered door-to-door testing of 250 seniors in Fox Hill Gardens, Columbian Arms, and Columbian Towers with Fusion Diagnostics Laboratories.
Hoboken has had 1,576 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Dec. 8.
Hoboken University Medical Center reported 28 COVID-19 patients, which includes seven Hoboken residents.
Hoboken suffered another fatality, the first since May, bringing the city’s new total of lives lost to 32.
“Sadly, I was informed of our first fatality in several months, a resident in her mid 60s,” Bhalla said. “I extend my deepest condolences on behalf of the City to her family and friends during this difficult time. To the families of all 32 Hoboken residents we’ve lost – please know our hearts are with you and your loved ones.”
The Health Department is conducting contact tracing.
According to the department, recently collected information links cases to smaller gatherings with non-household members, travel outside of New Jersey to high-risk states and regions, and spread among household members.
The department reported that recent trends indicate parents are contracting the virus and spreading it to their children. Children’s recreational sports that travel for competitions or practices have also be linked to recent cases.
“Given the trends, we are discouraging parents from letting children participate in organized sports and activities outside of Hoboken, which is occurring more now that recreational sports have been put on pause in Hoboken, following guidance from the State of New Jersey,” Bhalla said.
Front line and healthcare workers are contracting the virus on the job, according to the department.
According to Bhalla, the city has seen a growing rate of non-compliance with contract tracing.
“Please cooperate with the Hoboken Health Department with contact tracing and provide information when asked for close contacts,” he said. “Our Health Officers are simply doing the best they can to help prevent additional infections …”
All information will be kept confidential.
Vaccinations this spring
According to Gov. Phil Murphy, initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are anticipated to go to front-line and healthcare workers, people over 65, and those with pre-existing health conditions once the FDA grants emergency approval. A broader rollout of the vaccine to the general public could occur by this spring.
New Jersey hopes to have 70 percent of the adult population vaccinated within six months once the vaccine is approved and available.
Though vaccine distribution is on the horizon, the city asks all residents to remain vigilant.
Residents are instructed to avoid indoor gatherings, wear masks, social distance, and limit social interactions with members outside of their households.