Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop announced Thursday that the city will send five city-branded, 3-ply surgical masks to all 120,000 households in the city. It is believed to be the largest such effort in the state.
The initiative is part of #MaskUPJC, a multifaceted public campaign to expand on the city’s effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign is being overseen by the Health and Human Services Department and Office of Innovation.
The masks are being purchased with money the city obtained from the CARES Act earlier this summer. City officials said the total cost, including shipping, will be less than $300,000. The masks will be distributed next week. All city employees also will receive masks, regardless of where they live.
Fulop said distributing masks fills a vital need.
“Absent a vaccine, wearing a mask is one of the few proven, effective ways we can dramatically decrease transmission, and we want to further our efforts to support residents and encourage everyone to remain diligent as we get through this together,” he said.
“My top priority is to protect our residents’ health and safety, and the goal is to avoid another surge, which would also inflict further damage on people’s mental health, our struggling businesses and the local economy.”
As part of the initiative, the city also is distributing 2,000 stickers to businesses that read, “MASK UP to Enter.” The city is hoping business owners will put the stickers on their storefront windows to encourage customer compliance.
Along with the masks, residents will get a letter from Fulop and a “Mask Up JC” poster. In the letter, Fulop will encourage residents to sign up for the city’s emergency alert system to receive important updates, as was used throughout the pandemic to keep residents informed.
Since March, the city has distributed over 200,000 masks and PPE to senior buildings, nonprofit organizations, local businesses and residents.
Stacey Flanagan, director of health and human services for the city, said the effort has had a big impact.
“Our data shows that the major contributor to the current moderate increase in cases is in-home family gatherings, which further supports our efforts to ensure everyone remains compliant,” she said. “We need everyone to be responsible and do their part to avoid further contagion by wearing masks, maintaining hygiene and getting tested when they’re exposed or show symptoms.”
In conjunction with the administration’s ongoing efforts to provide the public with critical resources, HHS is also significantly expanding access to COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines, Flanagan said. Several mobile testing units are being deployed throughout the city to bring health services directly to its most vulnerable populations including senior residents and public housing sites.
Rapid testing will also soon be available at popup sites citywide, with a 15-minute turnaround time for results. City health officials are targeting communities with higher positivity rates in order to identify, quarantine, and treat those with the virus.
Fulop said it’s all about adjusting to the latest news and information.
“We knew very little about this virus when it first hit, but, today, we have a much better understanding of what needs to be done and how we can continue our work with the community to help slow the spread,” he said. “Our Mask Up campaign encourages compliance so that everyone can do their part to stay safe.”
The “Mask Up JC” branding will be deployed throughout Jersey City’s communication channels, including digital kiosks, billboards and social media. The city’s website also serves a unique role for non-English speaking residents, who can find the same information in their native language on the website www.jcnj.org/MaskUPJC.