The death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has been increasing across Hudson County as the virus continues to spread, with North Hudson being hit the hardest. Recently, Gov. Phil Murphy declared the Town of West New York, along with the Township of North Bergen, as COVID-19 hotspots.
Under the hotspot designation, the two municipalities expect to see a sharp increase in the number of confirmed positive cases, and subsequent deaths from COVID-19.
Murphy released self-reported data from the state on April 6 showing the six municipalities, including West New York and North Bergen, which are likely to see more cases in the immediate future.
As of April 17, 996 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 in West New York, with 56 deaths. In North Bergen, the number of sick residents is 1,420 with 39 deaths.
In West New York, this is 29 more deaths than reported the previous day by the state Department of Health and the town. The jump in reported deaths represents an increase of 107.41 percent from April 14 to April 15.
Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez lamented the loss of life, but also explained how the numbers don’t accurately portray the current situation in town.
“On behalf of our community, I want to express our sincerest condolences to the families and loved ones of those we have lost during this difficult time,” said Mayor Rodriguez.
Previously, Rodriguez said that the increase in cases was anticipated. However, the massive jump in deaths and recent increase in cases in West New York were not part of the projections.
Town officials do not believe that this data represents an actual spike in the number of COVID-19 deaths, but rather that the data shows a lag in previously reported numbers from the day before due to the extraordinary amount of patients being tested.
A lag in statistics on the 14th could have been caused by the inclement weather on Monday, April 13 that shut down testing sites across the county due to high winds.
North Bergen reported the first deaths in the township from COVID-19 on April 8, totaling 39 residents who had passed away from the virus. However, there have been no updated numbers since then.
Nursing homes devastated
Of the 39 deaths in North Bergen, 30 have been confirmed by Health Department officials as residents of the township’s three long-term care facilities, Hudson View, Hudson Hills, and the Harborage.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco reiterated that measures would be put into place to protect nursing homes from being affected.
“This disease preys on the most vulnerable among us worst of all, and the results are nothing short of tragic,” he said. “Our Health Department is working with these facilities to put as many safeguards in place as possible, such as isolating residents and not allowing visitors to enter.”
Sacco continues to coordinate with the state and county and is working closely with township department heads to develop and implement plans to address COVID-19.
Sacco urged residents to adhere to the stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines.
“Please stay safe, practice social distancing, good hygiene and hand washing,” Sacco said. “North Bergen is a family, and we are all in this together.”
Mayor Rodriguez also joined Sacco in thanking the first responders fighting on the front lines of the ongoing pandemic.
“I want to once again thank all of our healthcare professionals and all of our heroes on the front lines of this pandemic who are working tirelessly to keep us healthy and safe,” continued Mayor Rodriguez. “I continue to urge residents to stay home, to wear gloves and a mask or other face covering, and to always practice safe social distancing. Only by working together can we ensure that we get through this sooner than later.”
West New York has taken numerous actions at the direction of public health officials to limit the spread of the virus, all of which are accessible to residents on the town website’s dedicated COVID-19 Updates page. Residents are advised to follow the town’s official social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which are updated multiple times per day with new information as it becomes available.
For more information or to ask a question, residents are advised to call the NJ COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or visit its dedicated website at covid19.nj.gov.