Princeton Prepares Next Steps in Opening Up
By Donald Gilpin
As COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline and vaccinations increase, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Monday, May 3 additional easing of restrictions in the next two weeks. Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser thinks that the state and Princeton are exiting the pandemic at an appropriate speed.
“Case transmission has been at an all-time low, and in Princeton specifically, we have seen some of our lowest incidence rates of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020,” said Grosser.
On May 3 the Princeton Health Department reported three new cases in the previous seven days (0.42 daily average) and just four total cases in the previous 14 days (0.28 daily average). “We are continuing to understand how vaccinated individuals are really making an impact on overall community health here,” Grosser added.
Murphy’s changes in restrictions, in partnership with New York and Connecticut, will take place in two phases, on May 7 and May 19. The limit on outdoor gatherings will increase to 500 persons on May 7 and be removed entirely on May 19, though a six-foot social distancing requirement between groups will remain.
Also on May 19, the indoor gathering limit will be raised to 50 from 25, and the percent capacity limits will be removed for indoor and outdoor businesses, including stores, restaurants, bars, and gyms, as well as houses of worship. Masks and six-foot distancing will remain essential.
“With COVID-19 cases on the decline, more than seven million vaccines administered, and the good weather allowing more outdoor activities, we are able to take these steps to reopen the state,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “But we can’t let our guard down now. Please get vaccinated if you haven’t already, practice physical distancing, and wear a mask when in large crowds.”
Vaccination opportunities in New Jersey are increasing rapidly. The Princeton Health Department is holding a Moderna vaccine clinic on Thursday, May 6 at the Princeton Senior Resource Center, with appointments scheduled online at 2021covid19vaccine.as.me.
Princeton University, with support from the Princeton Health Department, has announced that it will host a series of vaccination clinics open to the public beginning on Thursday, May 6.
Grosser noted that the health department has been working with the University since late January on vaccinations for town and campus communities and that recently more doses became available for distribution.
More than 2,000 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered in clinics at Jadwin Gym on the University campus on May 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Tuesday, May 11, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Wednesday, May 12, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Second doses will be scheduled automatically for three weeks after the first shot. Interested individuals age 16 or older should register with New Jersey’s Vaccine Scheduling System at covidvaccine.nj.gov to secure an appointment.
Homebound residents seeking vaccinations can email the health department’s Vulnerable Population Outreach Coordinator, Gwen Krol, at email@example.com, or call (609) 497-7608, ext. 1478.
On May 3 Krol and health department interns managed a table outside Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church at its Free Store event. Along with Blair Miller’s Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors organization, the team provided bilingual information flyers about upcoming vaccination clinics. They will be at Mount Pisgah again on Wednesday, May 5.
Krol has been canvassing the community, speaking to residents about the vaccine, discussing any hesitancy, and providing onsite registration support in Spanish and English.
A list of vaccination locations can be found at covid19.nj.gov, with some health care centers — Princeton Penn Medicine, Hackensack Meridian and RWJ/Barnabas — and pharmacies — CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens and ShopRite — also scheduling appointments.