By most accounts, Hoboken has done the right thing in its fight against COVID-19. Among the first in the country to close down its non-essential businesses on March 14, the Mile Square City appears to be weathering the initial blast of the outbreak.
With a population around 55,000, the city has 473 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date—of which 125 are fully recovered. There have been 23 fatalities, nearly all of them members of Hoboken’s senior citizen community.
The City announced that there were no new cases or fatalities reported on Sunday. It’s also worth noting that the primary testing center was closed on Sunday. Furthermore, initial testing constraints have led some authorities to speculate that there were a significant number of cases uncounted. When the program first rolled out, Riverside Medical was ONLY testing existing Riverside patients, and only testing one patient per household. Anecdotal evidence has also led to the conclusion that many Hoboken residents have in fact left town for the time being—however, authorities state that any resident testing positive elsewhere would be counted among Hoboken cases.
Testing is more widespread now, and the City has even announced that they will be conducting door-to-door testing of seniors via a partnership with PromptMD. The Riverside Medical Group’s Testing program has also broadened its scope to include all residents.
“We want to ensure every Hoboken resident or frontline worker who thinks they need a test can receive one. Thanks to our rapid, 15-minute tests, Dr. Brahmbhatt and Riverside Medical have expanded testing capabilities in Hoboken,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “All Hoboken residents or frontline workers having any COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of age or health, or who were in contact with someone who has COVID-19, can receive a test with the results provided on site.”
Hoboken has made it clear that the city will be cautious before reopening, and that social distancing will remain a part of life here for the immediate future.
“Some residents have understandably contacted me, encouraging certain rules and regulations to be relaxed to our self-isolation policy. I know how difficult it has been, and fully recognize that while staying at home is the best and most effective way to stay safe, it is not simply not possible to remain home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for an indefinite period of time,” says Bhalla. “While it has been difficult, we continue to ask residents to stay home whenever possible. The data shows it’s making a real positive difference and will lead to a better future with diligence and time.”
Of course the economic impact to Hoboken’s vital small business community is immeasurable. The City is encouraging residents to support local businesses however they can, despite the restrictions.
“To support local businesses and help people find goods and services during this difficult time, we are compiling a list of Hoboken establishments that are currently open for business in some capacity,” says Bhalla. “If you would like your business to be included, please fill out this short survey with your hours of operation and customer services. The information we receive will be displayed on an online map, providing a valuable resource to residents who would like to find and support local businesses for their daily needs.”
Meanwhile, Bhalla seems determined to adhere to Governor Murphy’s recently announced guidelines for reopening. The cornerstones of those guidelines are sustained declines in cases, widespread testing, and a cautious, data-driven approach.
“If you believe you should be tested, please do not hesitate to call our City Hall Community Emergency Response Team hotline at 201-420-5621, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.,” said Bhalla. “It’s important that if you believe you have symptoms, to receive a test, so our Health Department can help contact close contacts of yours to self-quarantine.”