Newark IDs 3 coronavirus hotspots, pushes strict stay-at-home rules for residents

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on Saturday announced three neighborhoods within the city that have been identified as coronavirus hotspots through tracking done by the city.

Those areas are Bloomfield Avenue to Verona Avenue and Lake Street to Route 21; Springfield Avenue to West Market Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South 12th Street; and Avon Avenue to Clinton Avenue and Irvine Turner Boulevard to South 12th Street.

Area 2: Springfield Avenue to West Market Street, and Martin Luther King Boulevard to South 12th Street.

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Area 3: Avon Avenue to Clinton Avenue, and Irvine Turner Boulevard to South 12th Street.

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The mayor said he could not disclose how many cases of coronavirus were in those areas or how many residents were in quarantine there. He urged residents in the hotspots to take more steps in addition to Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order put into place Saturday afternoon for all New Jerseyans.

“We need them to listen to the governor’s directive," Baraka said during a press conference at the city’s Office of Emergency Management headquarters. “But more importantly, if you live in those areas - and we’ll get that message out to you - we need you to take that one step further."

That means residents in those areas should not go for a walk when others are outside, not go to parks, or visit relatives. Baraka also urged dog walkers not to go out when others are doing so.

All of Essex County’s parks have been closed and non-essential businesses have been ordered to close throughout all of New Jersey, so the mayor’s executive order and plea to residents does not change much more for residents in these hotspots.

Workers in essential industries, like nurses, may still leave their homes to go to work. Other residents may still go outside for emergency reasons, doctors’ appointments, food shopping, or to pick up a prescription.

City officials have been mapping positive cases and people in quarantine throughout Newark, the most populated municipality in the state. Baraka said there’s been a correlation between the areas where people are in quarantine and where people have tested positive for coronavirus.

There were 31 coronavirus cases in Newark as of Saturday afternoon, the mayor said. Essex County had at least 107 cases, which makes it the third-highest county throughout the state for coronavirus cases. Bergen and Middlesex counties have 363 and 116 cases, respectively, while there are at least 1,327 people with the illness in New Jersey.

Two Newark residents have died after being diagnosed with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, said the mayor.

Testing site now open in Newark

Testing for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is available at the Mary Elizabeth Mahoney Health Center, a federally qualified health center. City officials say the facility is servicing all residents, including the homeless.

The facility may be reached at 800-734-7083. The mayor urged residents to first get an evaluation from a physician. Those without health insurance should call the health center first to be evaluated.

Resources for homeless, small businesses

City officials have previously said N-95 masks and gloves will be distributed to homeless shelters, outreach personnel and community organizations. The city is working on arrangements for quarantine locations should any of Newark’s homeless population test positive or need to isolate while they await their results, he added.

Guidelines were also being developed for shelters workers to help them identify and deal with the homeless when they test positive or are in need to be tested.

The mayor said Saturday three locations have committed to providing space for homeless who may have to quarantine. He declined to say where those locations were.

Baraka is also working to create a fund for Newark’s small businesses that are struggling under the new restrictions that help stop the spread of coronavirus. The mayor called on the city’s corporate sector to donate to the fund, which he is hoping will be able to provide grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses.

Small businesses throughout New Jersey hurt by the coronavirus can also seek low-interest federal loans of up to $2 million.

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