Bloomfield sees first 2 deaths from coronavirus

Photo Courtesy of CDC
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depicts coronavirus. The spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion when viewed electron microscopically, which gives the virus its name.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life across the world, Bloomfield officials are providing updates to residents every day about cases in town and how they are being handled. As of March 23, Bloomfield has 16 confirmed cases of the virus. In a Facebook post on March 23, Mayor Michael Venezia announced that two people in town have died as a result of COVID-19. It was announced again in a press release on March 24.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families that have tragically lost their loved ones to this virus,” Venezia said. “All residents should take the threat of this virus extremely seriously and follow all CDC guidelines, such as washing your hands often and practicing social distancing if you absolutely must leave your home. Nobody is immune to this virus and the only way that we will flatten the curve is by staying home.”

One of the other positive cases in Bloomfield is a Comcast technician who does not live in town but was working there between March 3 and 6. In a press release on March 17, Venezia said any resident who came in contact with the technician will be informed about next steps by the health department.

“Our department is working diligently to track any interactions the individual who tested positive had with residents, and we will ensure that anyone at risk of exposure is provided with all of the information necessary, including being tested themselves if appropriate,” Health Director Karen Lore said in the release.

The technician is quarantined in a local hospital, and the health department will monitor residents who were serviced for the next 14 days.

A positive case of coronavirus was found in the Bloomfield School District on March 21; the faculty member is a teacher in the district but not a Bloomfield resident. According to a press release from Superintendent Salvatore Goncalves, the last day the person had contact with anyone in the district was March 13. The name of the school the teacher works at has not been released.

“In light of the individual’s domicile, the Morris County Department of Health and Human Services will be following all related protocols issued by the State Department of Health for case investigation and contact tracing,” Goncalves said. “This entails a full inventory of the individual’s recent activities and locations visited. From this assessment, notification to all other individuals who have been identified as close contacts will follow. These individuals will also be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

He also encouraged residents and district community members to follow all CDC and state guidelines to flatten the curve of the disease. Goncalves said residents should contact the New Jersey Department of Health hotline at 800-222-1222 if they have any questions.

The Bloomfield School District began distance learning on March 17.

Bloomfield College announced the first confirmed case of the virus on campus, in a March 19 press release. A nonresidential student has COVID-1.

“As we are currently on extended spring break, the student was diagnosed in their hometown. The college, including personal outreach from me, has been in contact with the student and their family,” Bloomfield College President Marcheta Evans said. “Since the diagnosis, the student has been self-isolating, is following CDC protocols, is improving and has the full support of the college.”

The last time the student was on the BC campus was March 6. According to the release, there were three areas they accessed while they were there: the workout room in the gym, Room 6 of the library and the College Hall Nursing Lab. Evans said every student who may have been in contact with the student will be contacted by the college and local health officials.

Following Gov. Phil Murphy’s signing of Executive Orders 107 and 108, telling all nonessential retail businesses to close and all school districts to move to online learning, BC moved to distance learning on March 23.

Also on March 23, Venezia announced that Bloomfield residents will be allowed to park in all school parking lots until the state of emergency is lifted and schools reopen.

“I started noticing throughout the township, there were fewer and fewer parking spaces available,” Venezia said. “My fellow council members and residents have also brought this matter to my attention, and, working with the Board of Education, we found what should work. The current state of emergency is difficult enough without having to worry about parking. Since the schools are closed for now, their lots are available.”

The Bloomfield Police Department will patrol throughout the parking lots and the Department of Public Works will maintain them.

“After speaking with the mayor, I believe it is a great idea to utilize our empty school lots so that Bloomfield residents have ample places to park while schools are closed,” BOE President Jill Fischman said in the release. “Working together, we should be doing all that we can to relieve the stress that this emergency has put on all of us. I applaud the mayor for taking this initiative and I am thrilled that we could help out this way.”