(Top) Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Orange Dwayne D. Warren, (bottom) East Orange Mayor Tony Vauss and Irvington Mayor Ted Green (YouTube/Smartmockups)

By Bradford Mason

The cities of Newark, Irvington, East Orange, Orange are coming together to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

With New Jersey being the U.S. state with the second highest number of cases and North Jersey with the highest number of cases, the municipalities are combining their resources to keep fewer people for getting sick. This week, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Tony Vauss of Irvington, Dwayne Warren of Orange, and Ted Green of East Orange pushed out the message in a video released on the City of Newark social media platforms. Click here to see the video.

“We’ve come together today because COVID-19 is continuing to devastate our communities collectively,” Mayor Baraka said. “We can only beat this if we do it as a collective. God speed! Stay safe! Stay well!”  

Green said in a statement last month that not following the rules of staying home and taking precautions could make the difference between life and death.

“We are now experiencing what it’s like to live in a world well beyond our control with restrictions we never imagined would be put in place,” Green said. “But the threat to our public health is a real one and we cannot take this crisis lightly. As the number of new positive cases in East Orange increase daily, we must come together and do what it takes to fight the spread of this virus.”

Warren said that coming together with the other cites was necessary because of the proximity of the communities and leaders could be a stronger force against COVID-19.

Given the ease of transport between our towns, given our cultural, commercial and industrial touch points at touch all of our towns, this is necessary and it’s going to take a collective effort,” he said.

Vauss said that wellness checks will be done in each municipality. Police will be doing rolling patrols making sure that people are practicing social distancing.

“This virus we have is serious,” he said. “The virus doesn’t know the difference between Irvington, Newark, East Orange and Orange. Its affecting all of our people, all of our relatives friends and family. Everybody has families in other communities. We decided to come together so you could hear a united message on how we intend to deal with this crisis.

The mayors announced four “Operations” that are being implemented in all four of their towns:

Operation Lockdown

• Starting today, the four municipalities will jointly enforce complete lockdowns on their communities for seven days. 
• On April 7, the cities will re-evaluate the situation. 
• Until then, non-essential and non-emergency travel is barred on the streets of these communities. 
• Joint police units will patrol borders and other points. 
• Violators will face summonses and other legal action. 

Operation Clean Business

• Essential businesses that are allowed to remain open must clean their premises.
• To do so, they must frequently wipe down high touch points including doors and counters. 
• Employees and customers must practice social distancing. 
• At the close of the business day, owners are encouraged to sanitize their businesses. 
• Health inspectors will see that this is carried out.

Operation Wipedown 

• Owners of senior citizen centers and complexes must sanitize public areas, including high touch points such as: mailboxes, elevators, doorknobs, and countertops three times a day with disinfectant. 
• Owners must sign compliance statements, saying that they have adhered to the order. 
• Inspectors will ensure that owners adhere to these policies, collecting compliance statements. 
• If inspectors find the owners have not taken required sanitization measures, the inspectors will cite the owners for appropriate legal action. 

Operation Mobile Wellness Checks 

• Police departments will conduct mobile patrols, making sure that people are practicing social distancing and enforcing Governor Murphy’s Executive Order.
• Violators will be ticketed and face legal action. 

“Even though we have to social distance as people, we can come together as a community to fight this dreaded disease,” said Congressman Donald Payne Jr. “I want to praise Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Tony Vauss of Irvington, Dwayne Warren of Orange, and Ted Green of East Orange for recognizing that they will have more success in a unified effort to battle this crisis than individual actions.”

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