Assistant public works director Manny Ojeda tested positive for Covid-19, forcing more than a dozen municipal employees, including key members of mayor Andre Sayegh’s administration, to quarantine.
Ojeda was in a meeting attended by business administrator Kathleen Long, assistant business administrators Lydia Robles, Jennifer Hirschmanner, and chief of staff Della Fischer. All four administration officials have been asked to quarantine.
“A high-ranking official in my administration has tested positive for the virus and the contact tracing process has commenced. A few of those contacts are members of my cabinet and they have quarantined themselves,” said Sayegh late Monday afternoon.
Sayegh had contracted the new coronavirus earlier in the year — he recovered in April.
Public works director William “Billy” Rodriguez and councilman Luis Velez, chairman of public works committee, were also likely exposed, according to officials. Both men interacted with Ojeda.
Velez said he had a brief interaction with Ojeda late last week. He said he had his mask on.
“I don’t think I had an exposure,” said Velez. He said he went ahead anyway to St. Joseph’s Regional Hospital on Monday morning to submit to a Covid-19 test.
Velez said he has taken himself out of circulation as a precaution.
“Any employee that came in contact with Manny is encouraged to get a test. And we’re going through the list now,” said Rodriguez.
Ojeda tested positive on Sunday.
Rodriguez took a Covid-19 test on Monday morning. He has quarantined himself and plans to do another test later in the week.
As many as 10 public works employees, many of them supervisors, were likely exposed. Ojeda held a supervisors’ meeting last week.
Ojeda is recovering at home.
“His outlook is very good. He’s in good spirits,” said Rodriguez of his colleague. “He’ll beat this.”
In Paterson, 345 people have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. On Monday, health officials reported 14 new cases, highest figure in recent days.
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