Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann is the first mayor in Mercer County to test positive for Covid-19. He has had the disease since at least March 25, when he was tested.
Steinmann, who is recuperating at home, says that he is feeling better and is quarantining himself for the next 14 days.
“I feel okay. Last night was a little rough,” he said. “This morning I woke up and everything was, obviously not good, but I don’t have a fever, and my coughing was less. Maybe I’m past that point, fingers crossed.”
Steinmann, 73, falls into the category of those at high risk from the disease. The chance for severe illness includes people ages 65 and older, the immunocompromised and those with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes.
He said he had first started manifesting symptoms about three or four days before he got tested. “It was never really bad. I was kind of coughing and a little lethargic, but nothing major. So I didn’t really think anything of it.”
Steinmann had been one of the first people to receive a test when Trenton was setting up its drive-thru test center for first responders.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora had asked him to be “a guinea pig” for the testing site, which was about to open. “I said, ‘yeah, I’ll come over.’ It’s probably a good thing I did.”
Gusciora called Steinmann on Monday afternoon to notify him. “When I saw his name pop up on my phone, I figured, ‘That can’t be good,'” Steinmann said.
Steinmann said he was still waiting to hear back from his doctor, who he had called shortly after hearing the news. “She’s doing some clinical hours somewhere, so I didn’t hear back. I’m gonna call her in a little bit to see what’s going on.”
Meanwhile, he’s has sequestered himself in a second bedroom and is keeping away from his wife, Chris, who has not yet been tested, and will need a prescription to get one.
He says he’s well enough to still do the mayor’s job, and business administrator James McManimon is at town hall handling the day-to-day operations of the township. McManimon had tested negative, but might need to be tested again, since he came into contact with the mayor.
Steinmann said he’s unaware if authorities will be notifying other people he recently came in contact with, but he has been following safety protocols for some time. “We informed everybody (at town hall) that I was in proximity to.”
He also stressed the importance of following the guidelines set to contain the illness.
“For the last two weeks I haven’t really been close to anybody,” he said. “I’ve had the distancing thing down pretty well. I didn’t have any visitors in my office, and any time I had a meeting with department heads, I put them out in the council room and had them staggered throughout the area.”
He said he also told some of the professionals he came in contact with. “They didn’t seem overly concerned. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Maybe you should be.’”
Steinmann also addressed the incident on March 27 in which Ewing Police charged a 54-year-old township man with two disorderly persons citations for hosting a party with some 47 people in his apartment.
He called the party attendees “knuckleheads,” and said that him getting sick “should be a wake-up call for people to take the situation seriously.”
“Honestly I never expected I would get it, and I probably did some things that I shouldn’t have. I probably should have used a little bit better judgement and caution.”