PARSIPPANY, New Jersey --- New Jersey has not been immune to the increasing novel pandemic, COVID-19, as it has spread faster than expected through the northern part of the state in the last month.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) hit nationwide on January 21 in Washington state and there are now 46,285 cases reported and 588 deaths in the United States, with 295 recovered. With the close proximity to New York City, the state of New Jersey has accumulated 2,844 known cases and 27 deaths.
Bergen County is New Jersey’s county with the most reported cases, at 609 and nine deaths. As of yet, Parsippany has eight reported cases. The oldest, an 88-year-old female, is still recovering at the hospital and the youngest, a 34-year-old male, was reported to be quarantining at home, according to Soriano.
Despite the fact that Parsippany has low data points, the town - and Morris County - have been prominently shut down.
Jennifer Goodlin Page, a Parsippany resident, said both her and her husband are out of work and it has been difficult getting resources.
“I would like wipes but there’s no way I’m getting any,” she said. “Just found gloves yesterday so that helps with the cleaning.”
Page said her neighbor that lives below her could potentially have coronavirus.
“We have had ambulances on two different nights blocking our door,” Page said. “People in hazmat suits. I heard her say something about a fever. I know it’s everywhere, I get that but I’d like to know if she does have it. We share a common entryway so that means door handles and a small area of air.”
Parsippany’s cases have an age gap. The oldest, an 88-year-old female, is still recovering at the hospital and the youngest, a 34-year-old male, was reported to be quarantining at home, according to Soriano.
Alex Nussbaum, a News Editor at NorthJersey.com and an Energy Writer at Bloomberg, said this has been the most intense time for him in his 30 years as a journalist.
“The only thing I can compare it to is the days after 9/11, when I was a reporter,” Nussbaum said. “There is the same ceaseless pace of breaking news, the adrenaline of covering a huge story and, under it all, the dread of what happened and what may still happen.”
Murphy instituted an executive order on Saturday afternoon and announced that “all further gatherings are canceled until further notice.” He also said that this includes weddings and parties of any sort.
Murphy continued, acknowledging the frustration and disappointment he said New Jersey residents will be feeling at the announcement. However, Murphy said, his “job is to make sure we get through this emergency so that you can safely gather with family and friends later and enjoy many more birthdays and weddings in the years to come.
All over Morris County on March 16, restaurants and bars were told to shut down their dining rooms and serve food only through takeout. In an effort to support their community, restaurants are still seeking out ways to get food to their customers. Zinburger in Morristown announced on their Facebook page they are offering discounts and Taphouse Grill in Wayne said they are bummed to be closing temporarily.
POLICE ATHLETIC LEAGUE
The Parsippany Police Athletic League (PAL), an epicenter for youth engagement in the town, shut down on March 12, after the executive director, Sam Yodice, announced on Facebook.
“Social distancing in all forms is the best method of controlling this outbreak,” Yodice wrote. “Community spread is low at this time, therefore social distancing techniques might have the greatest impact and safety of all.”
Until further notice, all pharmacies and grocery stores remain open for any non-essential personnel. On Twitter, people are talking about the anxiety that result from mass runs to grocery stores.
Stop & Shop in New Jersey announced on March 18 in a press release that customers over the age of 60 would be given the opportunity to shop between 6 and 7:30 a.m., called “Senior Shopping Hour.” The president of Stop & Shop, Gordon Reid, said these hours are for the elderly and any “customers who may have weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to COVID-19.”
WORKING FROM HOME
As schools have been shut down nationwide and adults are told to work from home, quarantine life has become all too familiar for families all across New Jersey.
Nussbaum said this time is exhilarating, but it takes up all of his time. He said that although his 15-year-old son is home from school, he doesn’t feel he’s been able to spend time with him.
“I spend much of the day on the phone, email, text, chat, etc., working with reporters and editors,” Nussbaum said. “My wife works in p.r. for a local hospital and still goes to work every day. She comes home and we share war stories from different ends of the epidemic. On Sunday morning, we had dueling COVID-19 conference calls in our house -- she was downstairs on a hospital call while I was upstairs talking with reporters.”
Students from Quinnipiac University are no strangers to this process. Halfway through spring break, students were notified that their classes would be moved entirely online. A few days later, they were updated that they would be unable to live on campus for the remainder of the semester.
Now, students are scattered back all across the world.
This information allows the general public to understand how much energy the tri-state area is using on a daily basis during the outbreak of COVID-19.
Gillingham expects there to be a bounce back in carbon emissions from worldwide travel. He said this will be when the immediate danger of symptoms and sickness has passed.
“However, this may be mitigated somewhat by an unfortunate worldwide recession,” he continued.
Dr. Galen McKinley, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, also said when physical economic activity becomes more prevalent again and we purchase and burn cheap oil quickly, carbon emissions will rise again.
She also said, however, the adjustment to virtual work environments may be a potential future outside of the nationwide shutdown.
“I don’t think all in-person meetings will go away, since people do need these interactions,” McKinley said. “But the days of flying across the country for a 1 day meeting will hopefully be quickened to their end by this experience.”
New Yorkers, in particular, are no strangers to natural gas emissions. One New York resident - who wishes to remain nameless at this time - said she could feel the cleaner air when walking her dog around the city. She said she sees, in light of this pandemic, investors will be seeking out new opportunities for making money.
“They’re going to turn to renewable energy,” she said. “You have to have a return so people can retire. And now that the returns are starting to look better, particularly when compared to fossil fuels, this is a great opportunity to get even more innovation.”
We could invest in a jobs program to promote renewables, for example - or we could invest in maintaining infrastructure to pump out more oil. These are choices. - Dr. Galen McKinley