COVID-19 cases in WO rise to 47

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.

WEST ORANGE, NJ — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life across the world, West Orange officials are providing updates to residents every day about cases in town and how they are being handled. As of March 24, West Orange has 47 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the township website. In a Facebook livestream on March 24, Mayor Robert Parisi said that two additional people who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered.

In a statement posted to the West Orange website, the township said that, due to HIPAA laws, they are not able to release the identity of the individuals, where they live, where they work or any information other than their age and gender. People who may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus will be contacted by the health department.

“Cases will be followed up through resolution of all symptoms. These numbers are expected to increase further,” the statement read. “Township health professionals are working around the clock to follow up on each case, while working to keep residents and township employees as safe as possible.”

During the livestream, Parisi also provided updates about township facilities in light of Gov. Phil Murphy’s signing of Executive Orders 107 and 108, which forced all nonessential businesses to close statewide.

Town Hall remains closed, and nonessential employees are working from home. Though Murphy’s order allows for construction and inspections, Parisi said most have been delayed in West Orange. Parks in town remain open, though all playgrounds are closed.

“If you want to go to the park you can,” he said during the livestream. “Obviously gatherings are not allowed, so we do ask you to practice social distancing.”

Garbage and recycling collection is continuing, though Parisi said that collections have started earlier and told residents to put their garbage and recycling cans out earlier to ensure they are collected. Sewer bill payments, which were originally due April 1, have been postponed; there is not yet a new due date. No decision has been made about the property tax bills due May 1.

The jitney is still running, though on a modified schedule, and senior transportation has been extended to earlier hours to account for senior-specific hours at ShopRite. According to Parisi, the Township Council is discussing among themselves and with the town’s IT department the best way to hold virtual council meetings.

“We have a task force working nearly around the clock on this, so we’re all available,” Parisi said. “If you have questions, reach out to us.”

The West Orange School District began distance learning on March 24, after launching a website where all school information can be found on March 23: Parent resources, teacher resources and special services resources can all be found on the website.

Superintendent Scott Cascone also hosted a Facebook livestream on March 24, showing residents the West Orange High School cafeteria, which has been turned into the district’s food and technology command center.

“We’re boxing up, by school, labeled Chromebooks with parent lists of all the individuals we’ve identified are in need,” he said. “We are going to do daily drops at the elementary schools from 12 to 2 p.m., with a food drop. If you are not able to get there between 12 and 2 for those technology drops, computers are going to be left in the entranceways of the schools. We will have security guards on site at those schools for you to pick up your labeled Chromebook.”

Both Parisi and Cascone told residents to follow all CDC and state guidelines for the duration of the state of emergency.

“We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation, and I give a big thanks to our town employees who haven’t been sent home, our emergency personnel who are still out around the clock doing everything they can to keep the community safe and address these very unique circumstances that we find ourselves in,” Parisi said. “We’re not alone. This is affecting everyone in this country and most places in the world, and we’re going to do everything we can amongst ourselves to get through this quickly.”