WO coronavirus cases continue to rise

WEST ORANGE, NJ — As the number of positive cases of COVID-19 around the world continues to rise, West Orange’s total has risen as well. As of the morning of April 2, of the 2,607 cases in Essex County, 168 are in West Orange, according to a Facebook post from Mayor Robert Parisi. As of March 31, Essex County officials said one person in town has died from complications from the virus. According to Parisi, two people have recovered.

Parisi declared a state of emergency in town on March 27 and said that all cases are being contact-traced by the health department. Following Centers for Disease Control guidelines, being in close contact with a person means having been within six feet of them or having direct contact with the disease, such as being coughed on.

“This does not mean, as an example, if a resident is confirmed positive with COVID-19 today and went to the ShopRite two days ago, that a general public announcement would be made about their time in the ShopRite,” Parisi said. “However, if while at the ShopRite, they walked the aisles while talking with a friend, doing their shopping together, then the friend would be contacted. Close contacts are encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days while monitoring their symptoms, once notified.”

He also said most people in West Orange are following the state guidelines and staying home, so there have been considerably fewer people who have been in close contact with the most recent confirmed cases.

All township facilities will remain closed until Gov. Phil Murphy lifts his executive orders decreeing that nonessential businesses close. Garbage and recycling services are continuing as normal, but curbside pickups of televisions and metals have been temporarily suspended.

According to Parisi, the police and fire departments are accepting donations of gloves, masks, sanitizers, no-contact thermometers, paper towels and other supplies, if residents are able to spare them. The drop-off center, which is also under social distancing rules, is located at Firehouse 5 at 25 Mt. Pleasant Place. The area in the back of the firehouse marked by cones and a tent is the drop zone for donations.

The Mayor’s Sunshine Fund, which annually provides Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas presents to families in town who are in need, is taking donations to help with the coronavirus fight.

“The fund is being used during this crisis to assist in feeding many senior citizens on a daily basis,” Parisi said in a Facebook post on March 28. “But the longer this crisis continues, the more resources we will need to provide help, not only to senior citizens, but to many neighbors that need help now and the many more that will need it the longer this continues.”

Donations can be made at www.westorange.org/sunshinefund.

A COVID-19 testing site opened in Newark on March 26, in Weequahic Park. County residents can make appointments at www.essexcovid.org or by calling 973-324-9950. Anyone wishing to be tested must meet specific testing criteria, which include a fever of at least 99.6 degrees and respiratory symptoms of shortness of breath.