NEW JERSEY – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Thursday outlined challenges and critical steps we must take to help prevent and be prepared for a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases in the Fifth District this fall.
With the start of fall a couple weeks away, outdoor gatherings and activities will soon be less feasible, and some school districts will have students and faculty back in classrooms. New Jersey is beginning some indoor dining, college students may be returning home from other states, religious holidays and Thanksgiving are coming up, and families will be gathering indoors — all different factors that could cause a spike in COVID-19 cases. Plus, flu season is quickly approaching, Gottheimer said.
“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve known that a second wave is likely. The severity of this next wave comes down to how prepared we are for it — which all depends on our communities and residents continuing to follow proper safety protocols and having the resources in place to protect our communities,” Gottheimer said. “The federal resources that are already coming back here to the Fifth District, the precautions we need to take, and the legislation I’m continuing to fight for at the federal level — they are all steps to protect our students and teachers, our seniors, veterans, those living in long-term care facilities, our brave first responders, frontline health care workers, families, small businesses, and all our local communities.”
Gottheimer was joined during Thursday’s virtual event by Holy Name Medical Center Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Adam Jarrett; Bergen New Bridge Medical Center CEO Deb Visconi; Andover Township Mayor Michael Lensak; and New Milford Fire Chief Bill Mury.
“As we move into the fall season, it is important that we maintain our vigilance against the spread of COVID-19,” said Jared M. Maples, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. “Social distancing, masks, hand-washing, and other preventative measures will help slow the spread of both COVID-19 and common influenza. Continued focus on these simple techniques will help mitigate the strain on hospitals and other healthcare providers and reduce the chances of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.”
“We are certainly encouraged by the consistently low COVID-related volume we’re seeing, but want to remind our community to stay vigilant, especially as we see spikes in other parts of the country and with flu season fast approaching,” said Adam Jarrett, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Holy Name Medical Center. “We are absolutely better equipped to handle a second wave in terms of operations, protective gear, and staffing. While the research and medical community are working non-stop to better understand this virus, a treatment and vaccine requires time. As of Tuesday, September 1, there are currently 33 states and U.S. jurisdictions on New Jersey’s quarantine travel advisory list, which is a clear signal that we are not yet out of the woods and likely won’t be for some time. The public should continue to wear masks and social distance in accordance with state guidelines until we have a vaccine that’s been vetted and is considered safe.”
“As we head into the fall and prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19, it’s critical that our health systems, hospitals, and long-term care facilities are prepared to fight this virus, that they’re properly staffed, and that everyone has the protective equipment they need,” said Deborah Visconi, President and CEO of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. “The discussion here today is a great step in addressing the potential challenges we may face here in Bergen and throughout Northern New Jersey and figuring out what resources and support we’ll need to serve the community.”
“Thanks to Congressman Gottheimer and other local officials and experts for helping lead these discussions. I’m hopeful that, here in New Jersey, we’ll continue to work together at every level to put the right plans in place to safely re-open our economy and protect our communities,” Andover Township Mayor Michael Lensak said. “We are truly all in this together, and we all need to work together to get to what our new normal is going to be.”
“During a conference call with Congressman Gottheimer earlier today, we discussed the importance of first responders obtaining and stocking up on PPE — especially now that we are moving into the cold and flu season and it will be difficult to distinguish during an incident if the occupant is COVID-positive or if they simply have a cold or the flu,” New Milford Fire Chief Bill Mury said. “The Congressman also stressed the importance of receiving a flu shot for the upcoming season. If you’re having difficulty obtaining proper PPE for COVID, reach out to the Congressman’s office for assistance.”