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Newark lockdown comes to an end as case positivity rate decreases

Newark has reached the end of its 10-day lockdown advised by Mayor Ras Baraka on Dec. 4 as the city’s case positivity rate decreased following a recent spike in cases.

Baraka announced the lockdown on Nov. 19, urging Newark residents to shelter in place and remain inside their homes as much as possible from Nov. 25 through Dec. 4. 

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Essex County, where Newark is located, transformed Seton Hall's campus into a COVID-19 testing site on Nov. 19.

Newark’s case positivity rate dropped from 21% to 16.5% last week, Baraka said during a Facebook Live coronavirus update on Monday.

“I think we did the right thing, and by the grace of God, I think we will see the numbers drop drastically,” Baraka said. “The numbers are dropping in the state because we’re doing hard work here.”

The recent lockdown broadened the scope of other orders Baraka issued at the beginning of November, wherein restaurants, businesses, and residents in zip codes 07104, 07105 and 07107 were instructed to abide by a 9 p.m. curfew on weekdays and a 10 p.m. curfew on weekends.

In response to complaints from residents regarding the lockdown, Baraka compared his lockdown advisory to the lockdown enacted in Los Angeles County, Calif., which has a positivity rate of 6.9% according to Baraka. Newark, by comparison, had a 21% positivity rate.

“We are complaining about ten days while L.A. County is locking down for three weeks,” Baraka said.

Baraka noted that Newark’s coronavirus numbers have improved, saying “Comparatively speaking, we’re doing a little better.”

Eight businesses in Newark were cited for violating COVID-19-related restrictions within the first two days of the lockdown, according to Baraka.

“We found 24 people who were in violation of the governor’s executive order,” Baraka said. “People have said they are going by the governor’s executive order. No, you are not.”

On Nov. 10, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 194, prohibiting restaurants, bars, and other businesses that serve food and drinks from conducting indoor dining between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

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There has been no official indication that Newark’s current lockdown advisory will be extended, though current New Jersey COVID-19 restrictions will continue to be enforced in the city.

On Dec. 4, Gov. Murphy announced that 5,673 new positive cases have been counted in New Jersey, the second day in which the state recorded record high cases, with 48 new confirmed deaths.

Essex County, where Newark is located, continues to lead among New Jersey counties in COVID-19 case numbers with a total of 37,134 cases. The White House Coronavirus Task Force currently lists Essex County as a red zone in terms of the COVID-19 spread.

Louis Motta can be reached at louis.motta@student.shu.edu.

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