COVID-19 has caused a massive uproar nationwide. There have been unprecedented unemployment rates across the country, stock markets have dipped severely over the last month and a $2 trillion stimulus package was signed into law giving $1,200 to all Americans except dependents, where many college students fall.
The economy is struggling; however, the most important story is the one unfolding in the city closest to Ramapo College. In a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, both New York City and Northern Jersey have implemented policies to try and stop the spread of the disease.
New York City is now the epicenter of COVID-19 in America. New York City alone accounts for 47,000 of the 210,000 positive cases, which is 22% of total COVID-19 cases in the United States (however, the numbers are changing daily at a rapid pace).
Case numbers are exploding, increasing exponentially over the last two weeks. New York has been implementing efforts to try and slow the spread in addition to getting all the equipment that it needs to effectively fight this virus.
President Donald Trump has sent the hospital ship USNS Comfort to New York City to augment the healthcare system in the city. USNS Comfort, while not being designed for this sort of work, can help New York City fight the coronavirus by taking in patients not infected with the virus. This will allow regular healthcare institutions the ability to focus all of their energy on COVID patients.
In addition, Mayor Bill de Blasio has been creating more temporary hospitals so that they can handle the influx of patients that they are currently receiving. Temporary hospitals have been set up at Central Park and the Javits Center with a total of 1,268 additional beds capable of giving intensive care to COVID-19 patients. New York City is also turning USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center into a temporary hospital with another 350 intensive care capable beds.
Social distancing has been the number one method implemented by public officials to slow the spread because they want to "flatten the curve." The idea is simple: have less contact with other people so you are less likely to contract the virus yourself. If enough people do this, then the strain on our healthcare system gets lessened.
In order to promote social distancing, both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy have closed non-essential businesses, essential meaning businesses that people need to live or complete the actions that they need to live.
They have also banned large gatherings of people for public safety. Gatherings are expected by law to remain under 10 people with everyone standing at least six feet apart. Lawbreakers have had their gatherings broken up and the organizers fined for going against the law.
Bergen County, home of Ramapo College, currently has the most positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey, with 13,000 at the time of publication. In order to combat this, the executive of the county, Jim Tedesco, attempted to close all businesses within the county.
His executive order was not implemented by Phil Murphy, as it was an executive overreach on the part of the county executive office. He has since settled for closing all public parks to try and get people to stay home and take the virus seriously.
Healthcare in the county is strained as it is. The county has set up two drive-through COVID-19 testing centers, one at Bergen County College and another at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center. Under specific criteria, people can get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms and have been in contact with another person who is known to have the disease.
This is a historic event that will definitely become much worse before it gets better. Please stay home, take care of yourself and join us in flattening the curve.