The statement below is by Freeholder Cappelli and Mayor Moran regarding combating COVID-19 in Camden City.
“From the outset of the novel coronavirus pandemic we knew that health disparities and socio-economic challenges could lead to disastrous outcomes for vulnerable communities throughout the county. This is the reason that, along with our colleagues, we worked with our partners in the city, at Cooper University Health Care, and Virtua Health to ensure the first testing site was engineered and constructed in Camden City. To date, more than half of the patients seen at the Cooper Poynt Waterfront Park Site, which creates more access and opportunity to medical care for all our residents throughout the county, have been city residents.
The mobile test site and triage clinic have seen more than 1,100 patients since opening on April 1. By leveraging our health care providers and additional nonprofits like CAMCare and the Camden Coalition, we have been able to face the challenge posed by health and economic disparities head on. Furthermore, the three hospitals within the city’s nine-square miles have been instrumental in triaging patients and working to treat as many residents as possible from the city.
This is just part of the overall response that the city and county have put to work for Camden residents. In early March, we started to tackle issues related to homelessness in the city by deploying portable sinks and handwashing stations throughout the community and contracting with a hotel for isolation services for the same vulnerable population. We are also working with outreach personnel from Volunteers of America to identify impacted populations and our shelter network to ensure CDC spacing guidelines are being met.
It is important to highlight that expanding testing will provide us with the data we need to properly attack this virus, as I’m sure everyone recognizes the abject failure of the federal government to make testing available anywhere, let alone in Camden County or Camden City. Now that we have a robust testing site in addition to hospital testing, we are getting the information we need to be more effective.
The health and safety of residents and the entire community is paramount and remains the focus. The City of Camden and Camden County continue to work closely with the New Jersey Department of Health, to monitor and limit the spread of coronavirus. Both Camden County and Camden City municipal government have taken the appropriate steps to limit outbreaks and continue to urge all residents and business owners to follow the recommendations set forth by Governor Phil Murphy’s numerous public health orders.
Early on, Camden City aggressively focused on distributing bilingual information and updates to the public in a variety of forms. This was all with the objective to prevent the spread of the virus by obeying Governor Murphy’s Emergency Declaration and orders for all New Jersey residents to stay at home. Camden City has also worked hand in hand with the Camden City School District and the Food Bank of South Jersey to ensure that students and families have access to meals and the groceries they need to sustain themselves.
In addition, our county police officers are going door to door to explain the stay at home orders and the importance of quarantining oneself from the rest of the population. This is being done in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. The Mayor and Chief of Police have met with clergy to help spread the stay at home message to their respective parishioners and congregants, and city stakeholders have been contacted to increase the volume of the message. The county Department of Health has delivered more than 17,000 meals in the city since the stay at home order went into effect back in March and will continue to feed residents in need throughout this pandemic.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the telehealth services being offered by the Rutgers-Camden nursing school. Through its existing health initiatives located in the Ablett Village and Branches of Centerville housing complexes, the nursing school is establishing telehealth services to provide Camden residents with much-needed access to primary care services. In accordance with Executive Order No. 112, a Rutgers–Camden nurse practitioner is prepared to assist residents; to ensure continuity of care, access to electronic health records will be provided through the Health Information Exchange offered by the Camden Coalition. There is a direct residential benefit to hosting our Eds and Meds corridor which will pay dividends to the Camden community. These institutions will be home to many of the solutions to this virus and we want to thank them for stepping up to the plate.
With the critical mass of healthcare infrastructure in the city, the very brave men and women fighting this virus every day in our hospitals have unfortunately represented more than 14% of our overall positive tests for the city. Overall, more than 58% of our residents are in good condition on the road to full recovery; roughly 7% were hospitalized and released. Approximately 3% of the total positive cases traced by the Health Department, 13 individuals, are in serious condition in the hospital. Eight individuals have tragically passed away and we will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers. The number of traceable cases in the city that have been completed is 345. The average age of residents being impacted is in their 40s.
Last, but not least, density is a challenge in the city, we recognize that fact, which is why we have taken to putting boots on the ground to communicate, from a safe distance, with residents. Camden has the highest density housing in the county and we are working day and night to cut through that challenge and let residents know that self-quarantine, while not fun and extremely challenging on a good day, is the sacrifice they have to make to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their friends.”