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South Brunswick COVID cases decline by 22%, but still high since Thanksgiving

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – The number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported from South Brunswick over the past week declined by 22%, but still remain at the highest levels since before Thanksgiving.

The increased spike in cases started in the first week of December and has continued into January, dipping slightly over the past week, according to information provided by the South Brunswick Office of Emergency Management.

The increase in cases over the past month is an indication of increased spread, but also a result of additional testing, officials said.

The Middlesex County Health Department advised this week that regardless of the introduction of the vaccine over the coming weeks and months, they anticipate the safeguard practices that are in effect to last through the rest of 2021. This means residents need to wear face coverings, use social distancing, and minimize gatherings, according to the statement.

It will take some time to not only vaccinate a significant portion of the population, but also for the effects of the vaccine to become effective, so everyone needs to continue to do their part to control the spread, according to the statement.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said on Jan. 18 that 50% of the people testing positive are asymptomatic and New Jersey has reached a plateau with hospitalizations, according to the statement.

“The interesting thing is: Our cases are increasing and our mortalities are increasing, but our hospitalizations are not. Hospitalizations are staying pretty stable. I think it’s still affecting older individuals,” she said, according to the statement. “Almost 60% of our deaths are older individuals. So it may be that it’s more transmissible, more asymptomatic. It’s over 50% now are asymptomatic transmissions. Asymptomatic transmitters are perhaps affecting older, vulnerable adults, and that’s who is ending up in the hospitals, and the mortality is significant.”

This past week, South Brunswick officials were notified of 83 new cases of residents testing positive. This number represents a 22% decrease in new cases than were reported last week. While this number appears to be a significant improvement over the past few weeks, during which the township recorded new record highs, the South Brunswick Office of Emergency Management tracks trends over a period of time longer than one week in order to determine if numbers are truly trending up or down, according to the statement.

In addition to the 83 new cases, 21 additional cases were reported from previous weeks.

South Brunswick currently has 1,663 cases of residents who have tested positive since last March.

Officials were also notified of two additional COVID related deaths, bringing South Brunswick Township’s total number of fatalities to 47 since the pandemic began, according to the statement.

Statewide, 3,506 people are hospitalized due to COVID as of Jan. 19, a 5% decrease in the number of hospitalizations over the previous week, according to the statement.

Middlesex County saw its numbers increase to 54,059 total cases.

South Brunswick Township public schools are operating in virtual learning mode, with no students or teachers in the buildings. Teaching staff returned to the school buildings last week in anticipation of having some students return to the buildings, but as of Jan. 19, plans to have students return were put on hold until COVID numbers can decline and then stabilize, according to the statement.

The status of South Brunswick schools remains fluid, with decisions made based on the best and most recent available data, guidance from government organizations, and a comprehensive review of school district capabilities, according to the statement.

The next potential return date is in early February.

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