Teaneck official: Imposing self-quarantine in the first days of the pandemic saved lives
March 4 will mark one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in New Jersey. Since that time, New Jersey has seen upwards of 710,000 cases of the virus and 21,052 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths.
Those living in Teaneck were among the first to face the virus head on because it was where the first cases were reported.
One year later, there is a sense of normalcy in the town, but residents are often reminded that the pandemic is not over yet.
“I had a lot of phone calls, people wanting information – answers which I couldn’t provide. I didn’t have that information available to me,” says Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci.
Kazinci was forced to make a drastic decision to have residents self-quarantine. Teaneck would be the first municipality in the state to do so.
“I firmly believe that we saved lives by doing that early on,” he says.
Still, Holy Name Hospital, like so many others, would soon be overrun with patients, as hospitals began searching for ventilators.
Statewide, restaurants, barbershops and stores closed. Schools were forced to shut, forcing every student to learn a new term - “remote-learning.”
“None of us could even imagine what it was we would ultimately be up against,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “On March 9, I would declare a public health emergency for the first time.”
Teaneck would eventually lose 115 residents to the virus. There has been a total of 23,449 confirmed and probable deaths in New Jersey overall.
But New Jersey seems to be turning a corner with the aid of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Now over 2 million New Jerseyans have been vaccinated.
The Teaneck township manager says that he is proud that Teaneck now has its own vaccine center.
“Just this week alone, we are doing over 10,000 vaccinations. We are the biggest point of distribution in the state,” Kazinci says.
A third vaccine produced by New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson is now in play, allowing more people to be vaccinated.
Kazinci says that he thinks that herd immunity will be achieved by the summer. More than 40,000 people have been vaccinated in the last six weeks.