Town sees 49 COVID-related deaths

Bloomfield residents have taken up a chalk challenge to create inspirational messages in chalk on their sidewalks and driveways.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — As the number of positive cases of COVID-19 around the world continues to rise, Bloomfield’s total has risen as well. As of the morning of May 5, according to statistics from the county, of the 14,891 cases in Essex County, 910 are in Bloomfield. Forty-nine people in Bloomfield have died from complications of the virus. In a Facebook post on May 3, Mayor Michael Venezia said the number of positive cases reported in town each day over the previous week were all in the teens, with the exception of one day that saw a jump to 30.

“We think it has to do with the reporting and labs getting the results to the state,” Venezia said about the increase. “Though the signs are good, I won’t be happy until the day I can write ‘We have zero new cases today.’”

Gov. Phil Murphy allowed state parks to be opened the weekend of May 2, and Essex County parks followed suit. Venezia said he was in Brookdale Park and encouraged people to wear face masks if they chose to go.

“Being in Brookdale Park this weekend I noticed a lot of people not wearing face coverings,” he said. “Listen, I know it sucks, but it is for your safety. Trust me, it was hot today wearing one, but unfortunately this may be the new norm moving forward. I highly recommend wearing one.”

Bloomfield athletic fields and playgrounds remain closed to the public.

On May 4, Murphy announced that schools would not reopen for the remainder of the school year. Spring sports seasons have been canceled as well.

“All schools will remain closed for in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year — to protect the health of our children, our educators, and their families,” Murphy said on May 4. “Guided by safety and science, this is the best course of action. We’re working with the principle that public health creates economic health — or in this case, educational health. If the standards are high to reopen our workplaces, they are even higher when it comes to schools filled with our children. As the father of a high schooler who has been attending classes remotely for nearly two months, I understand the concerns of both parents and school leaders. But, for us to ensure that we can undertake a responsible restart and recovery, this step was necessary.”

According to Murphy, the New Jersey Department of Education will hold stakeholder meetings to determine the feasibility of holding school summer programs. The same will be done regarding the opening of schools in September for the 2020–2021 academic year.

Bloomfield High School baseball coach Mike Policastro acknowledged the eight seniors who will not be able to play their last season in a Facebook post on May 4.

“I want to thank all our Bloomfield HS baseball players who committed themselves to working hard and getting yourselves ready to play this spring. Your dedication was exceptional. I wish I had some words to make everyone feel a little better today. I don’t; I am as crushed as you are,” Policastro said. “I am here for you, as are your coaches. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. To my eight graduating seniors — Vincent Torrisi, Christian Parisi, Jason Torres, Joe Czerepusko, Brandon Estelle, Hilbert Nina DeLeon, Jordan Mosley and Evan Carr — thank you for four years of working hard, being a positive role model to our underclassmen, and your dedication to the Bloomfield HS baseball program. With no formal dinner this year to give you a proper sendoff, I just wanted to let you guys know how much I appreciate you and what you’ve done.”