COVID Battle Sees Spike in 18-25 Age Range
By Donald Gilpin
The Princeton Health Department is reporting a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Princeton among 18- to 25-year-olds during the past month, despite mostly positive news otherwise in the ongoing local battle with the COVID pandemic.
“They are an active demographic, especially during the late summer and early fall,” said Princeton Press and Media Communications Spokesman Fred Williams. “End of summer socializing, Labor Day, and back-to-school activities on campuses across the country are sustaining the trend, but the good news for us here in our region is that this uptick does not appear to be associated with any community spread or ‘super spreader’ events.”
Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser noted that college campuses are seeing spikes in infections and that some of those cases are being imported into the town of Princeton from colleges and universities across the country.
“These institutions are choosing to send their students home when there is a confirmed outbreak on their campuses,” said Grosser. “Those students may or may not receive tests before departing school and returning home.”
He continued, “When they return home, they often seek testing, which is how we are receiving these positive test results here in Princeton. The 18- to 25-year-old range has seen a dramatic increase in the past two weeks, with nine new cases, six of which were from individuals coming from out-of-state higher education institutions.” The Health Department has urged those individuals to isolate safely at home to avoid further transmission.
Williams stated that, based on contact tracing data compiled from the cases among the most recent infections, the recent trend does not appear to constitute a “second wave” of COVID-19. “The other positive,” he noted, “is that there is no increase in serious COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalizations, and our rate of infection remains low despite increased activity such as returning to work, indoor dining, gym use, etc.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reported Tuesday, September 22 that the state’s rate of transmission had increased slightly to 1.13, still above the critical indicator of 1 that shows that the spread is expanding.
Also on Tuesday, New Jersey added five states to its coronavirus travel advisory, bringing to 35 the number of states and territories that are considered hotspots. Officials are asking travelers from those places, including residents returning home, to quarantine for 14 days after arriving here.
Williams went on to report that most people in Princeton appear to be using masks appropriately and keeping social distance from one another, as well as practicing proper hand hygiene. “Diligence in maintaining these safety measures goes a long way in protecting our overall health by limiting the spread of not only COVID-19, but colds and flu as well, which is certainly a benefit as the colder months approach, and we spend more time indoors.”
The Princeton Health Department reports that large-scale flu clinics are coming up on September 26 at the Princeton Public Library, on September 29 at the First Baptist Church, on October 13 at the Princeton Senior Resource Center, and October 24 at Stone Hill Church.
Flu clinics have been filling to capacity so Princeton residents are advised to call as soon as possible (609) 497-7609 to schedule their flu shots. The Health Department is on track to deliver more than 400 flu vaccines. Uninsured Princeton residents can receive a free flu shot. A list of clinics and further information can be found at princetonnj.gov/events.
The Princeton Health Department is seeking Princeton residents to help field a Surge Nursing Team of N.J. licensed registered nurses who can respond quickly to public health emergencies in our community to help the department’s full-time and part-time public health nurses.
Community surge team members may be called upon to provide nursing services to community members during a mass casualty, a natural disaster, an outbreak, an emergency shelter, and any other event that could unexpectedly strike where needs may be greater than resources.
“During COVID-19 we are seeking nurses to assist the Princeton Health Department with vaccine distribution once one is deployed to New Jersey municipalities,” Grosser said. Mercer County has a similar program, and due to the increased demand on this group during the pandemic, Princeton is working to secure its own group to be mobilized locally.