UPDATE: County Executive Jim Tedesco warned that all of Bergen could soon go on virtual lockdown in response to the coronavirus the way Teaneck did on Sunday.
Gov. Phil Murphy ordered all New Jersey schools closed by Wednesday.
Teaneck’s township manager on Sunday ordered a host of businesses in town either closed or restricted to the number of people they can serve until further notice, as the township becomes what its mayor called “ground zero” for COVID-19 in New Jersey.
Immediately afterward, Tedesco urged the 1 million or so residents throughout Bergen County to pay close attention because their towns will likely be next.
An executive order issued by Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci on Sunday closed several businesses immediately.
- bars, taverns and clubs:
- daycare centers;
- barbershops, hair salons and nail salons;
- private recreational sports programs that involve personal contact;
- parks, playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, and recreation fields, including the Votee Park Sportsplex.
In addition, restaurants in Teaneck can provide or delivery, and food chains must restrict entry to one individual family member at a time, with a limited amount of total patrons in their stores at one time, under an executive order issued by Township Manager Dean Kazinci.
Among them are food chains:
- Stop and Shop – 50 people at a time;
- Glatt Express – 25 people at a time;
- Cedar Market – 25 people at a time.
Township officials were to begin enforcing the closures and restrictions immediately, Kazinci said, during a Sunday morning news conference also attended by, among others, County Sheriff Anthony Cureton and the chief operating and medical officers from Holy Name Medical Center.
In addition to the restrictions on businesses, Kazinci ordered the municipal building and the Richard Rodda Community Center closed to the public beginning Monday.
The closures and restrictions will continue “until it is determined by me that the emergency no longer exists,” he said.
Tedesco followed Kazinci with a warning for the rest of Bergen.
“I have to tell you that from a county standpoint, the things that you just heard, more than likely, in the next few days, will come to fruition throughout the county," he said. “I say that from a preparation standpoint to the million people that live here.
“Individual towns will have to make their own decisions based on their own circumstances and the number of cases," the county executive said, but "the steps that Teaneck is taking now, all residents should prepare themselves for these and more as the numbers increase."
Teaneck is “the model that we will use throughout the county,” Tedesco said.
Bergen County’s second-most populated municipality after Hackensack, Teaneck had the largest number of coronavirus presumptive positives – 18 – in all of New Jersey as of Sunday morning.
Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin previously asked Teaneck’s 40,000 or so residents who can self-quarantine to do so.
The self-quarantine “is a recommendation but one that is voluntary…to help the flatten the curve of increasing cases of COVID-19,” Kazinci said.
There are others not included in the count who are under self-quarantine because of direct exposure to patients who’ve tested positive, he said.
Kazinci echoed predictions by Tedesco and medical professionals who expect the number of confirmed positives to “quickly increase as each day passes.”
"In all 70 Bergen towns today, there's somebody walking through town who's positive," Tedesco said. "They just don't know it yet. This virus is getting bigger and it's growing.
"I don't know what the numbers are in Teaneck today," the county executive added, "but I'll tell you that it's not 18 -- I can guarantee that....I'm hoping that it's not 28 or 38."
Hence, the reason for concern.
VIDEO OF THE NEWS CONFERENCE: https://www.facebook.com/ABC7NY/videos/209006880342544/
Kazinci strongly urged all houses of worship to “temporarily suspend all services or other communal activities” and asked banks and financial institutions to “practice social distancing and make every attempt to limit the number of customers.”
He asked that anyplace where 50 or more people gather collect the name, address and phone of all employees, patrons, visitors, vendors or any other individual in case someone there later tests positive.
Municipal government will do all it can to assist citizens and keep them informed, the township manager pledged.
He encouraged residents and merchants to use online forms to conduct business. Staff will be working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday for phone and email contact until further notice, Kazinci said.
Requests for information can be sent to COVID19@TeaneckNJ.gov .
Township Health Department employees will answer questions as expeditiously as possible, Kazinci said.
A hotline also will be set up later this week.
In addition to the reduced hours of operation at the municipal building, the Municipal Court, Public Library and all senior activities and events are shut down. Meetings of township boards and commissions have been postponed.
“This is a difficult and extraordinary situation for Teaneck,” Kazinci said, adding that the measures “are not being made to alarm our community but will further serve to safeguard our residents from the further spread of the virus. "I can't stress it enough these actions will help save lives."
Kazinci said everyone should “remain calm and vigilant in their personal efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19…We will get through this crisis together.”
ALSO SEE: The City of Passaic reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus on Sunday and joined several other North Jersey municipalities in a virtual lockdown of public and private gathering places.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.