“Because you gave a false name—because you gave a false address—you put yourself and many, many people at risk,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a video on Tuesday. “Not only just in the City of Newark, but all of the surrounding cities in this state as well.”
He said the patient, a female, tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. But she provided a false name and a Newark address, Baraka said.
When police arrived at the Newark address, they found no sign of the woman, the mayor said.
“As of today, she has not been identified,” he repeated, later describing her as a “young lady.” Newark officials are now working to obtain a court order to force East Orange General Hospital to give them a video and other information about the woman.
“We still have no knowledge of who this individual is,” Baraka said, adding that she is a “public health” threat due to her positive test.
“If you are that person and you went to East Orange General Hospital, and you were sick and were tested… the coronavirus test came back positive,” the mayor pleaded. “I am urging you to contact a health provider [or] go back to East Orange General Hospital if you can.”
Baraka didn’t say whether the woman will face any charges.
“This is not a joke,” he said. “This is a very, very, very serious matter.”
Reports said that at least 178 cases of COVID-19, which emerged in mainland China last year, have been confirmed in New Jersey. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 20 positive cases have been confirmed in Essex County, according to a New Jersey Department of Health tracker.
In Newark, the state’s largest city, authorities said a male resident in his 50s tested positive for the virus and was self-quarantined at his home, reported NJ.com. However, most of the state’s COVID-19 cases have been identified in Bergen County, authorities have said.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said the county is planning to close malls, non-essential retailers, and wants to ban groups of four or more people. They are to be implemented on Saturday starting at 8 a.m.
“As I said yesterday, while these may seem like extraordinary measures, these are extraordinary times. Our procedures make every attempt to be consistent with State guidelines, but we must remember that the severity of the situation in Bergen County is greater than any other area in the state,” he said in a statement to the Daily Voice.