This page will serve as a hub to direct Montclair Local readers to our most recent news coverage of the COVID-19 situation, as well as to offer links to statewide and national resources for the latest information. It will be updated as news develops.
The New York/New Jersey area is dealing with an ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, with more than 131,000 cases and 8,500 deaths confirmed in New Jersey -- including 382 cases in Montclair, resulting in 44 deaths -- as of Wednesday afternoon, May 6.
Montclair's municipal buildings, schools, public library, and parks and recreation facilities have all closed. Statewide regulations have indefinitely closed bars and restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and all other non-essential businesses, while residents are asked not to travel between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. No gatherings are permitted anywhere in the state.
A full day-by-day timeline of Montclair Local's coverage since the pandemic began is available here. Below is all of Montclair Local's coverage posted in the last week:
The week that was
Wednesday, May 6: 131,890 cases statewide, 382 cases in Montclair; 8,552 deaths statewide, 44 deaths in Montclair
- Gov. Murphy announces that New Jersey's state-of-emergency order will be extended into June, as the state continues to maintain its current level of "war footing."
- A Montclair High School graduate living in Kentucky, where he lives and works as a doctor, returned home to help fight COVID-19 at a New York City hospital.
Tuesday, May 5: 130,593 cases statewide, 381 cases in Montclair; 8,244 deaths statewide, 44 deaths in Montclair
- A report from state health officials indicates that about half of New Jersey's death toll from COVID-19 involves residents of long-term care facilities and nursing homes. More than 500 such facilities statewide -- 46 of which are in Essex County -- have recorded at least one case, resulting in more than 22,000 of the state's cases to date.
- A Montclair State University student sues the school and requests a refund of tuition and fees, contending that the school's switch to virtual learning during the pandemic has resulted in a "subpar" experience.
Monday, May 4: 128,269 cases statewide, 381 cases in Montclair; 7,910 deaths statewide, 44 deaths in Montclair
- Gov. Murphy announces the closure of all public and private schools in New Jersey through the end of the 2019-20 school year. Montclair's public schools had been closed, with students engaging in distance learning, since March 16; a statewide order closing all schools in the state followed two days later.
Sunday, May 3: 126,744 cases statewide, 374 cases in Montclair; 7,871 deaths statewide, 44 deaths in Montclair
- A review of the COVID-19 cases from the previous week show about 5,000 fewer positive cases reported - but 200 more deaths - during the week of April 26-May 2, compared to April 19-25.
- The "victory garden," a staple of American life during the two world wars, is making a comeback in Montclair, with some residents growing their own vegetables to provide a sustainable food source during the crisis.
Saturday, May 2: 123,717 cases statewide, 371 cases in Montclair; 7,742 deaths statewide, 44 deaths in Montclair
- More than 50 hospitals in New Jersey will receive a combined $1.7 billion in federal aid to help them continue to fight the pandemic.
- The air is significantly less polluted than usual this year, thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown. One expert at Montclair State University believes it's possible that a new post-lockdown "normal," in which fewer people commute to work, could keep pollution levels lower than expected.
- Some eateries in Montclair who buy their food supplies in bulk are re-purposing excess inventory and selling them to residents as groceries for delivery and pickup.
- The shutdown has closed many state and municipal buildings, meaning that residents are unable to receive marriage licenses or driver's licenses. Driver's license renewals, however, are still being processed.
Friday, May 1: 121,190 cases statewide, 365 cases in Montclair; 7,538 deaths statewide, 43 deaths in Montclair
- On the eve of the reopening of state and county parks, Gov. Murphy urged residents to be aware of larger trend lines instead of single-day spikes or drops in the number of cases.
- Montclair officially announces that its municipal parks - in addition to county parks, like Brookdale - will open to the public May 2 after a six-week closure, but with some caveats: All park-goers must wear masks, must engage in social distancing, and may only engage in "passive recreation," including hiking, walking, running/jogging, biking, or bird watching.
- The Montclair Public Library begins to adjust to a new normal of offering all of its programs virtually, including its popular Open Book/Open Mind series, in addition to its catalogue of books, movies and magazines.
- The CDC reports a rise in calls to poison control since the lockdown began, and urges residents to be careful with chemical cleaners aroudn the house.
Thursday, April 30: 118,652 cases statewide, 356 cases in Montclair; 7,228 deaths statewide, 41 deaths in Montclair
- Gov. Murphy announces that New Jersey will be receiving more than a half-million COVID-19 test kits from the federal government, and that long-term care facilities throughout the state would be receiving needed personal protective equipment.
- Even as they deal with shuttered storefronts, reduced hours, and decreased revenue, businesses in the South End of Montclair are doing what they can to support their neighbors.
- Similar to for-profit businesses, nonprofits in Montclair are having difficulties accessing much-needed funding from the government.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Those symptoms can develop within 2-14 days of exposure to the virus, which can occur as a result of close contact (within about six feet) with an infected person, or by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. The World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, with cases surfacing in more than 100 countries worldwide.
While it is believed that most individuals who contract COVID-19 will deal with mild symptoms, limiting the spread of the virus is essential, authorities say, both to protect individuals at higher-risk of serious illness after contracting COVID-19 — including older adults, or people with serious chronic medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease — as well as to prevent local medical facilities from being overwhelmed. (This strategy is known as "flattening the curve.")
To that end, officials are urging people — whether healthy or sick — to follow the principle of "social distancing," avoiding unnecessary travel and limiting in-person interactions in groups of any size. Individuals feeling symptoms should self-quarantine, minimizing all activities except for seeking medical care.
Information and best practices from the CDC
According to the CDC, the best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to limit exposure, either to people in close contact or surfaces that may have been contaminated. The CDC offers these tips to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people at higher risk of serious illness as a result of the virus.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to seek medical treatment. Wear a face mask if you are sick. (You do not need to wear a face mask if you are not sick, unless you are caring for someone who is sick.)
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash immediately, and wash your hands afterward.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
And below are links to the CDC website offering guidelines for the most helpful behaviors to follow while COVID-19 is actively spreading:
- Community mitigation strategies — steps to take to limit community spread
- Keeping workplaces, homes, schools, or commercial establishments safe
- What to do you if you feel sick with symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath
- Information for individual households
- Information for travelers
- Answers to frequently asked questions from the CDC
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