The March 12 executive order was as strong as it was swift. Without a single case of COVID-19 reported in Jersey City, Mayor Steve Fulop canceled all in-person public meetings and put restrictions on bars and restaurants that served alcohol.
Seven weeks later, Fulop was among the first in the state pushing for a “responsible” reopening, starting with parks and farmers markets.
“The realities that asking people to pretend as if they going to stay in their house and shelter in place indefinitely is not realistic, ” Fulop said in a interview on CNN on May 5. “So you’re better off putting some sort of control or parameters in a place where people can safely go out and actually do things that they are going to be doing anyway.”
So it should not surprise people that as New Jersey is being ravaged by a second wave of the pandemic, Fulop has a different view than other local and state leaders who have announced new restrictions.
“Seeing an uptick in the (corona)virus (cases)… we are obviously concerned, but at the same time you’re not seeing the same rates increasing in hospitalization, ICU, ventilators and fatalities,” Fulop said. “That would lead you to not make a knee-jerk reaction or do something prematurely.”
Christ Hospital currently has 12 coronavirus patients with only one requiring a ventilator, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tucker Woods said. Jersey City Medical Center had 23 coronavirus patients as of Tuesday, with just one of its 45 ventilators in use, according to the Jersey City COVID-19 web page.
Woods said Christ Hospital emails the Jersey City mayor the latest COVID-19 statistics every day. JCMC spokeswoman Sharon Ambis said while there is an increase in patients with COVID-19 “at this time fewer patients are being treated in the ICU than during the prior peak.”
There are 1,827 patients with the coronavirus or a suspected case in the state’s 71 hospitals as of Wednesday. There are 360 patients receiving critical care, with nearly a one-third of them on ventilators, state officials said.
Earlier this week Gov. Phil Murphy imposed a 10 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars, a decision that irked the Jersey City mayor because “it isn’t like COVID only comes out at night.”
Prior to the governor’s announcement, Hoboken and Paterson’s officials have ordered restaurants and bars close by midnight. This week, another Jersey City neighbor, Newark, announced 8 p.m. curfews for non-essential businesses and is limiting indoor gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Fulop said the city’s data shows the coronavirus is being spread by people attending small gatherings or family events in their home, a sentiment backed by Woods.
“I’m not sure what closing a restaurant or bar is going to help that situation,” Fulop said. “If anything, it is going to push people to those small house gatherings where people let down their guard.”