Hopewell Township Health Officer Dawn Marling covered the township’s latest COVID-19 cases and the current pandemic vaccination efforts in Mercer County in a recent presentation to township committee members.
To start her presentation on Jan. 11, Marling spotlighted the increase in COVID-19 cases within township.
“We are unfortunately seeing that post holiday surge of COVID-19 cases right now. We had 43 new cases last week, which puts us at a total of 450 cases since the pandemic began. I wanted you to know that 70% of those have occurred since Nov. 1,” she said. “So it has been a pretty dramatic rise in the last couple months. We are currently monitoring several hospitalizations and Capital Health is expecting that their hospitalizations are going to be in the next couple of weeks.”
Marling stressed the importance of limiting interactions, social interactions, and staying home if residents are sick.
The health department has also currently been informed about new COVID-19 positive cases at the Mercer County Correction Center.
“We are working with the warden on a group of COVID-19 positive inmates,” she said. “They are housed within one distinct housing unit, which is good news. We are partnering with the Mercer County Health Department and the New Jersey Regional epidemiologist to monitor that situation.”
Regarding the COVID-19 vaccination effort throughout Mercer County, the township health department is partnering with the Mercer County Health Officers Association (MCHOA). The health department has been running COVID-19 vaccination clinics since the last week of December all over Mercer County in partnership with MCHOA.
“We have vaccinated over 1,000 health care workers and first responders in Mercer County already. We have more clinics this week, next week and the following week,” she said. “We intend to keep this going and scale it up as we move through the different phases that are designated by the state health department. Right now we are in Phase 1A, which is community health care workers, EMTs and the state just opened it last week to firefighters and police officers as well.”
The township does not have an estimated time yet from the state for Phase 1B.
“Phase 1B would include our seniors that are age 75 and older and will also include other frontline essential workers. The state is still defining what that will include,” Marling said. “We are working with Mercer County Community College (MCCC) around getting enough vaccinators and pooling our resources, so that we are envisioning to have at least one large scale community vaccination site, as well as, smaller sites for our residents to be able to get to more easily and there of course will be one in Hopewell Valley.”
The health department will continue to inform the public to the township website and social media accounts when more information becomes available.
“I also would like to encourage residents to sign up on the New Jersey vaccine portal. That is covidvaccine.nj.gov,” Marling said. “The system, as of today, will not make an appointment for you, but will let you know what category you are in and if the state changes that definition it will be automatically updated. Then residents will get an email when they are able to schedule appointments during that phase.”
When Mayor Julie Blake asked about any impacts on 2021 budget, Marling said she will keep the committee informed on financial needs and highlighted the potential staff overtime, which would depend on how often and frequently the township is running vaccination clinics that would involve weekend dates and re-shifting of hours.
“I think it is a little to early to tell. If you are referring to the cold storage equipment, I do intend to submit that to the state under the grant. I will also be able to submit for reimbursement on a lot of clinic supplies and different expenses associated with running vaccination clinics,” she said. “Having that support is really critical.”