By Romelo Deida—
On Wednesday, April 22nd, a Town Hall meeting was held via telephone call with many residents of New Jersey participating. Hosting the event, Congressman Bill Pascrell was joined by Commissioner of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Robert Asaro-Angelo and VP Chief Medical Officer at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. Joseph Duffy. The purpose was to address any questions and concerns from the people pertaining to COVID-19.
The people of New Jersey were given a chance to voice their questions and concerns about the recent pandemic to those in charge of the areas majorly impacted by the virus. They all joined the Town Hall phone call and were able to phone in to let the operators know that they wanted to voice their question. Many questions were asked, leaving people satisfied with what they heard.
Pascrell opened the call by thanking everyone for attending and gave the listeners the most recent statistics about COVID-19 in New Jersey. Duffy stated that the rate of discharging patients from the hospital is around 641 patients so far, as well as confirming the use of 113 ventilators. Duffy concluded his introduction by stating Critical Care has become stagnant, showing that less people need it and the situation may be cooling off a bit.
Angelo told the attendees that as of 10 days ago, 700,000 claims for closures and unemployment have been made. Meanwhile New Jersey is about to hit the 1-billion-dollar mark in benefits paid during the crisis, for both unemployment and CARES Act.
Pascrell gave grim news as the number of cases in New Jersey has exceeded 96,000 and the number of deaths has gone up to 5,063. Pascrell stated Paterson alone has over 3,000 cases and 60 deaths, with a slight level off appearing in new cases. He concluded his intro by stating that the United States has over 842,000 cases with over 46,000 deaths, then let the people ask their questions.
Pascrell, Duffy, and Angelo each tackled the questions that pertained to their roles as best as they could. Many questions pertaining with the issues of filing for unemployment and the delay in funds were asked. Many of the answers given reassured people that they were trying as best they could, with the implementation of automated services to speed up the claim process and reevaluating those who were denied for those who applied for PUA and were self-employed.
Questions about the treatment in hospitals were also asked, with Duffy stating that recently the drug Zithromax has fallen from favor from the National Institute of Health. He also stated that some treatments are being experimented with such as Plasma Therapy. Pascrell stated that, “If we don’t get ahead of the virus, the economy will never recover.”
Another question inquiring about mobile testing sites was asked. Pascrell stated that if we all were testing six weeks before now, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are currently in, but in a better one. Duffy stated that the main way the virus is being spread is through asymptomatic patients and urged everyone to follow proper safety precautions.
Some essential workers participating in the call stated that they couldn’t find the masks and gloves they needed to help themselves be protected while working. The general answer was that New Jersey should be focused on supplying products while mentioning that the supply chain is broken due to all the closures. Pascrell stated that most of our protective supplies came from China and that we need to begin making them in the US, and that states shouldn’t be competing but helping one another to overcome this situation.
Overall, many important questions were asked during this event, all of which gave further insight to those previously unaware to the plans and actions the representatives and high officials of New Jersey are currently performing. Pascrell stated that anyone who was unable to have their question answered may email him through his website.
There are plans to hold another event sometime in the future, but no word on how long that will be from now. You can get updates from Pascrell via emails and in his emails he has a lot of information, from proper safety precautions to the most recent updates on the virus; including but not limited to the amount of funding that the state of New Jersey is receiving, and acts and funds that are being used in the state to benefit those impacted by the virus, and the number of cases and deaths within the state.