Hoboken was among the first in the country to adopt aggressive measures in the fight against COVID-19. The city, renowned for its bar and restaurant scene, closed those venues on March 14, prompting Ashish Jha, M.D., MPH, Professor of Global Health at Harvard University, Dean for Global Strategy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, to say, “I think Hoboken probably is the model we all need to move towards now,” during an interview on CNN last month.
Today, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced that there is only one new confirmed case of COVID-19 in the City. Sadly, that statistic was met with the tragic news that two more individuals had succumbed to the deadly infection.
“The Hoboken Health Department reported only one additional confirmed COVID-19 case, for a total of 396 in Hoboken,” said Bhalla, in his statement on Tuesday. “We sadly lost two longtime members of our senior community, with a female in her mid 60s and a female in her mid 70s, for a total of 21 fatalities in Hoboken. Our hearts are with their families and friends during these difficult times.”
Saddened to learn of the passing of lifelong Hoboken resident, Julia Dale. She was a staple in the community serving for 38 years at Hoboken Day Care 100. Julia was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law & more. We keep Julia & all those lost to COVID-19 in our prayers pic.twitter.com/MSQn9iPTPf
— Ravinder S. Bhalla (@RaviBhalla) April 21, 2020
Latest reports have the whole of Hudson County with 11,221 CONFIRMED cases, and 636 fatalities. Given the similar population density of surrounding towns, Hoboken’s caseload is relatively low.
“While Hudson County’s rate of COVID-19 is 1.5% of the total population and New Jersey’s is .88%, Hoboken’s is .70%,” said Bhalla over the weekend.
“We need to and must continue this aggressive approach for at least the near future if we want to not just flatten the curve, but lower the curve,” said the Mayor. “Unfortunately, this virus isn’t something we can win over in a quick battle in a matter of a few days or a few weeks. My ask to residents is to double down on self-isolation and social distancing, knowing that it’s not just working, but it’s keeping our seniors and other vulnerable populations alive. Our statistics prove it, and we need to keep it up.”
The City’s trend-setting response to the outbreak is certainly a factor in why Hoboken has such a low amount of cases.
“I applaud the city for many of the important steps they have taken to keep our residents safe,” said Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “When comparing with some neighboring cities with higher number of cases, it is tough to do an apples-to-apples comparison, given some of our socioeconomic and testing differences.”
Recent studies list Hoboken’s median income at $106,875—almost twice that of neighboring Jersey City ($58,907).
“Many Hoboken residents seemingly have more flexibility to stay working from home and more mobility to shelter in place away from Hoboken,” says Fisher. “In my neighboring buildings, staff have estimated that about half of all residents have left.”
Furthermore, testing still remains limited.
“Hoboken is also limiting testing to one person per household. It would be important to factor these into any comparison.”
hMAG has received numerous anecdotal reports of testing difficulties, citing and inability to adequately test all family members. Furthermore, we have received reports from others who were symptomatic and chose to forego testing, opting to ride out the symptoms at home under self-quarantine.
“I’m glad to share that after several weeks of trying times, the Hoboken University Medical Center has seen a decrease in overall COVID-19 cases,” said Bhalla. “It has also seen a reduction in ventilator use, both of which are encouraging signs for Hoboken and the region. Residents are asked to continue to call their primary care physicians for non-emergency matters.”
We asked the City of Hoboken for insight into the timeline and process for determining their statistics.
“The Health Department relies on the data provided by the Health Care Provider or medical facility and laboratory confirmation,” said Hoboken City Spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri. “Due to the large volume of cases and testing being conducted, there can sometimes be a delay in the reporting process.”
That delay may impact the timeliness of information, but is crucial in terms of accuracy.
“Since the Health Department strives to provide factual statistics and analysis, we will not report a positive case or death until all of the proper documentation has been submitted,” said Chaudhuri, “which is also important as COVID-19 may not be the primary cause of death due to other underlying conditions.”
Hoboken has been providing daily updates on the City’s caseload via Nixle alerts and social media.