Several NJ counties enact ‘Code Blue’ as temperatures plummet
Multiple counties in New Jersey are taking on an important safety tactic to help those without shelter deal bone-chilling temperatures and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Code Blue” is declared when temperatures are predicted to reach 32 degrees or lower or wind chill temperatures are forecasted be at or below zero for a period of two hours or more. Counties are required to send out a notice 24 to 48 hours before the temperature drops.
Officials in New Brunswick tell News 12 to keep the virus from spreading, they are allowing less people in the shelter at one time – allowing a max of 20 instead of 45. They're also emphasizing spacing, staggered entrance, less staffing, masks on at all times, and temperature checks as people enter. They believe the actions have been beneficial reducing the spread of the virus.
""You'd be surprised how something as simple as providing a cot and a blanket for an individual how far they can go,” said Keith Jones, director of New Brunswick Human and Community Services. "Knock on wood we haven't had any outbreaks. We run our facility the best way we can in these conditions. This population for the most part are not going to get tested and if they are going to get tested there is no real follow up."
In Paterson, community leaders say while they haven't had any outbreaks connected to their warming centers they are constantly adapting to the changing situation.
"We actually could accommodate 75 people now it's only 35 people and it's because this is spreading fast because of this recent wave with the omicron variant now we have to scale back even further,' said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.
Communities like Long Branch are taking a unique approach to reduce the spread of COVID. Instead of bringing people to large shelters, a person in need can call the Long Branch Police Department and they will help connect the person to a taxi service which will pickup the person up and then take them to a hotel for the night all free of charge.