COVID Rates Rise; Local, State, Federal Officials Show Concern
By Donald Gilpin
COVID-19 infection rates seem to be rising locally and nationally, and both New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joe Biden have recently expressed high levels of concern and fear of the possibility of a new wave. Particularly in New Jersey, the curve does not seem to be flattening.
The Princeton Health Department reported on Monday, March 29, 13 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 7 days and 21 new cases in the past 14 days.
“Princeton is continuing to see between one and two cases per day, which is certainly higher than where we were about six weeks ago,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser.
He continued, “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, Princeton has somewhat lagged behind national, state, and regional trends. Our office is closely monitoring upticks in cases and mini-clusters of cases, but they are typically linked back to households.”
Grosser added that public health experts attribute much of the recent spike to “large spring/warm weather gatherings, the rise of more contagious variants, and the pulling back of certain mitigation measures.”
On a more positive note, New Jersey has now administered more than 4 million COVID-19 vaccinations, with 4,112,087 doses delivered as of Tuesday, March 30, and 1,517,333 New Jerseyans fully vaccinated.
The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of its eligible adults, about 4.7 million, by the end of May. About 22 percent of the state’s 6.9 million adults have been fully vaccinated so far.
On Monday, March 29, vaccine eligibility in New Jersey expanded to include additional frontline essential workers, and on Monday, April 5, eligibility will expand again to include individuals 55 and older, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and additional essential workers.
Demand for appointments continues to outpace vaccine supplies, but New Jersey is anticipating receiving about 500,000 vaccine doses this week, including more than 50,000 one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The Princeton Health Department announced on March 30 that they have received 200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The health department is seeking homebound Princeton residents who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine and do not currently have an appointment who are interested in receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The Princeton Health Department is attempting to contact these residents through community partners, including the Princeton Senior Resource Center and various nutrition programs. The Health Department is also continuing to perform COVID-19 vaccination clinics at senior housing sites throughout the community.
Individuals who are unable to leave their homes due to illness, injury, or other mobility issues should contact the Health Department’s Vulnerable Population Outreach Coordinator Gwen Krol at email@example.com or (609) 497-1478 to inquire about eligibility.
Added to the eligibility list on March 29 were the following workers: food production, agriculture, and food distribution; eldercare and support; warehousing and logistics; social services support staff; elections personnel; hospitality; medical supply chain; postal and shipping services; clergy; and judicial system.
Beginning Monday, April 5, eligibility will expand to individuals 55-64; individuals 16 and up with intellectual and developmental disabilities; higher education educators and support staff; communications, IT, and press; real estate, building, and home service workers; retail financial institution workers; sanitation workers; laundry service workers; utility workers; and librarians and library support staff.
Others previously eligible include the following: age 16-64 with certain medical conditions; age 65 and up; child care workers in licensed ad registered settings; first responders; health care workers; homeless individuals and those living in shelters; members of tribal communities; migrant farm workers; Pre-K to 12 educators and support staff; public safety workers; residents and staff of high-risk congregate care facilities; residents and staff of long-term care facilities; and transportation workers.
To get vaccinated, individuals can register in the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System at covidvaccine.nj.gov. Those eligible can also schedule appointments directly with vaccination sites listed at covid19.NJ.gov/vaccine.