From Maplewood Mayor Frank McGehee and Health Officer Candice Davenport:
As we continue to adjust to our new normal it is important to note that our FIRST PRIORITY continues to be the health and safety of our residents by reducing any possibilities of community spread and keeping our COVID cases low.
Recently our Board of Health issued an emergency resolution to mandate mask wearing at all times in Maplewood Village. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), masks/face coverings help to control the spread of disease by reducing the exposure to infected respiratory droplets. Because there has been an inconsistency in face covering usage in the Village, this a proactive effort by our township to prevent more illness.
Mandatory face covering in high density, high pedestrian traffic business areas boosts public confidence to shop and frequent local businesses and reinforces mask wearing compliance. It also helps our small businesses stay in business.
Signage placed prominently around the Village will serve as a reminder that face coverings in public spaces are required during this public health emergency as per the Office of the Governor.
Here are the facts:
- While our cases may be low, they are increasing in other areas all across the state.
- NJ has been added to Massachusetts’ Higher Risk States List, and now if you travel to MA you are required to fill out a travel form and quarantine.
- Last Thursday, Governor Murphy reported that our state had 1,301 new positive cases in one day – Thursday’s number was the most announced in one day since late May.
- The Essex County 7 day average positive new case count has more than doubled from 24 to 56 in the last 30 days.
- 1,091 people have died in Essex county and 27 people have died in Maplewood.
- State COVID hospitalizations have been increasing every day – hitting a mark of 666 late last week – the highest mark since Aug. 5th.
- Maplewood has had 378 confirmed cases to date and while we saw 17 new cases in August and 16 in September, just 11 days into October, we have 9 new active cases with over 50% of them being in their thirties or younger.
While we welcome and encourage the presence of our youth in Maplewood Village, over the past few months there have been ongoing complaints from residents and merchants about the lack of face masks worn by our youth in the Village. While many are doing the right thing, there are still inconsistencies in practice. Everyone, including our youth must wear facial coverings or masks when they are in the Village.
You may have heard about the emergence of indoor parties that some of our teens have attended recently. And hey, we get it. We were teenagers once too and attended our fair share of parties. But today we are in a global pandemic and we know that coronavirus can spread most in areas where social gatherings occur. And while we will not respond to rumors or speculation surrounding these specific recent events, please know that Maplewood’s Health Division along with the Village of South Orange will work collectively with the South Orange Maplewood School District to address any activity that may result in an uptick in COVID cases across our community.
Collectively, we must change the way that we are behaving or more Maplewood residents will get sick, very sick or worse.
The request is simple: support our community, your neighbors, friends, classmates and local businesses. Wear a mask and maintain social distancing so we can all be safe during these unprecedented times.
Candice Davenport, RN, BSN, MPH, MCHES, HO
Health Officer, Public Health Nursing Supervisor, Health Educator
Maplewood Public Health Division
Township of Maplewood
Key takeaways from the CDC Guidance on Face Coverings
- CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
- Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.