A year after the cruise ship scare

COVID-19 hit Bayonne, and Bayonne hit back

“It’s hard to believe that we have been mired in this health emergency for a year now, yet here we are,” said Bayonne Mayor James Davis.

On Feb. 7, Davis reflected on the COVID-19 pandemic exactly one year to the day since the Royal Caribbean Anthem of the Seas docked in the cruise port with possibly sick passengers. If the passengers had tested positive, they would have been the first coronavirus cases in the state.

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“One year ago today, the City of Bayonne was thrust into the international news spotlight, when a cruise ship docked here with a few passengers who might have been infected with the Coronavirus,” Davis said. “Fortunately, it was a false alarm, and no one on board had the virus, but it was an omen of what was to come just one month later.”

Davis said that shortly after the city was briefed on the “good news” aboard ship, “the wheels were put in motion” for the city’s COVID-19 preparations.

“I created the Bayonne COVID-19 Task Force, prior to any of the closures and shutdowns that were to come,” Davis said.

About a month after the false alarm, Davis declared a State of Emergency, on March 12. Days later, the first cases of COVID-19 in the city were confirmed. The stay-at-home order and subsequent closures ensued.

The cruise ship scare helped the city better prepare for the health crisis to follow.

From testing to vaccinating

The COVID-19 pandemic continued to unfold throughout the year, as widespread COVID-19 testing was initiated, and residents were urged to wear masks, social distance, and practicing good hygiene.

Bayonne fared reasonably well for a city its size, but has still faced the loss of nearly 100 residents so far to the virus. Now, the focus has shifted from not only combating the spread of the virus, but also vaccinating residents.

“Due to the incredible cooperation of our community, combined with the hard work of many dedicated people, Bayonne continues to be a leader in handling the pandemic,” Davis said. “We work diligently to protect those most vulnerable among us, we mourn the lives lost, and now work day and night to vaccinate every eligible resident.”

Bayonne is vaccinating eligible residents to the maximum rate that its dosage allotment will allow, according to Davis. He said Hudson County has really “stepped up” for the city, as more than 21 percent of all the vaccines given at the Hudson County Vaccine Distribution Center in Kearny have gone to Bayonne residents.

“When the dosage allotment increases, rest assured, we will be able to vaccinate many more eligible people each day,” Davis said.

According to Davis, the city is receiving limited shipments. As more vaccines arrive, more eligible residents who have registered with the city will be scheduled to receive the vaccine.

“This has been a long year,” Davis said. “I am thankful for each of you who have sacrificed so much. I am thankful that we have gone through this together, and I am confident of our ability to get out of it…together!”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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