By Donald Gilpin
With COVID case numbers rising again in Princeton and throughout the state, mask mandates have returned for Princeton Public Schools (PPS), as well as a number of other schools, in following New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) guidance. It’s another troubling development in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve entered new territory recently that will test us all,” said Princeton Board of Health Chair Dr. George DiFerdinando in an email on Monday. He went on to describe the current situation that has left many confused. “We’re at a moment of broad risk of infection and yet reduced incidence of severe illness,” he continued, “This situation can be confusing because during much of the pandemic, even after vaccination, infections and severe illnesses have tracked together. That’s no longer the case, at least for now.”
Noting that reported case numbers are increasing locally and throughout the country, he added, “Hospitalized and ICU-hospitalized patients are way down, which says that the severity of the pandemic is down, even if the number of infections may not be.”
The Princeton Health Department on May 16 reported 107 new cases in the previous seven days, 200 in the previous 14 days. May 9 totals were 108 for the previous seven days, 168 for the previous 14 days. Princeton recorded its highest totals in early January this year, with 287 cases reported in a single week, 568 in a two-week period.
The latest NJDOH COVID-19 activity level map shows five out of six regions in the state, including Mercer County in the Central West region, are at “high” risk for COVID-19 activity.
An email sent out last Friday to all PPS families, students, and staff, announced that, because of an increase in COVID-19 cases, starting on Monday, May 16, “the district will return to universal masking for all indoor activities and classes. Masks will also be required on PPS buses.” more