February 23, 2022

Charting “New Normal” as Case Numbers Drop

By Donald Gilpin

With COVID restrictions and mask mandates being lifted across the country and New Jersey schools and child care centers scheduled to remove their mask mandates on March 7,  millions of people are looking forward to a “new normal” as the pandemic continues into its third year.

Princeton Deputy Administrator for Health and Community Services Jeff Grosser, in a February 22 email, pointed to the sharp decline in new COVID-19 cases in the state, from more than 30,000 new cases each day during the height of the Omicron surge to just 681new cases on Monday, February 21.

“Princeton COVID-19 cases have decreased on a similar trajectory,” he said. “During the height of the surge Princeton was experiencing between 50 and 55 cases a day, and we are now averaging around five-six cases a day.”

Grosser noted that the Princeton Health Department has been working with Princeton schools to address the question of mask-wearing following the March 7 termination of the state mandate.

“Strategies include monitoring transmission rates in New Jersey, as well as keeping up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations,” he said. “When in high transmission, the Princeton Health Department will continue to recommend that individuals wear a mask in public settings or high risk settings.”

The daily average for new cases in New Jersey on Monday was down 38 percent over the past 14 days, according to the New York Times, and totals for COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations were also down sharply. In Mercer County the 14-day change was down 52 percent. Numbers have fallen to the level they saw in early December before the recent Omicron surge.   

The transmission rate for New Jersey on Sunday was 0.63, with any number lower than 1 indicating each new case leading to fewer than one additional case.

The Princeton Public Schools saw a total of just five new COVID-19 cases in the week ended February 18, down from 27 in the previous week and 24, 46, 39, 79, and 96 in the weeks before that.

Princeton University, where the Campus Risk Status was reduced from “High” to “High to Moderate” and certain

restrictions were lifted on February 8, saw a spike in case numbers for the week of February 12-18. There were 319 new cases, mostly undergraduates, for the week for a 2.32 percent positivity rate, up from 0.32 percent for the previous week.   

COVID testing locations in the Princeton area include the Princeton Pop-Up Clinic at 237 Harrison Street near the Princeton Shopping Center, open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; a Montgomery Township clinic at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Inc.’s Skillman Campus, 199 Grandview Road in the lobby of the North Building, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and a clinic at CURE Insurance Arena, 81 Hamilton Avenue, Trenton, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free test kits for at-home testing are available at covidtests.gov and learn.vaulthealth.com/nj.

The Princeton Health Department will be holding COVID-19 vaccination clinics on Wednesdays, March 2, 16, and 30, at the Princeton Senior Resource Center, 45 Stockton Street, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Princeton University is hosting vaccine clinics on Wednesdays, March 2 and 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Jadwin Gym.

Vaccines and boosters are also available at several pharmacies and other clinics in the Princeton area. Visit the New Jersey Vaccine Appointment finder at covid19.nj.gov or vaccines.gov for further information.