COVID-19 cases rise in Hopewell Township; health department adds new coordinator


Hopewell Township has been experiencing a continued increase in COVID-19 cases among residents.

As of Jan. 25, the township has had 81 additional cases since an earlier township committee meeting on Jan. 11. Health Officer Dawn Marling recently reported the increase to township committee members and the community at a virtual meeting on Jan. 25.

“Since our last meeting on Jan. 11, we had quite the continuation of our case surge. We have had 81 additional cases since that time and unfortunately two deaths,” Marling said. “To date, we have lost 10 township residents and have investigated 534 cases. I just want to stress again that we need to remain vigilant about social distancing and limiting our interactions with anyone outside of our household right now.”

Marling added that part of why she thinks they are seeing the numbers rise is because of having a lot more access to testing.

“A number of our cases are asymptomatic. There may also be hypothetically some impact of these newly identified strains that are a bit more contagious and we have a different population in our demographics than we did in the spring,” she said. “We have a lot of teenagers, young adults and working age adults that are positive. There is a lot of spread in the households. A significant portion of that case count is from family members. I think all of those are factors in why we see so many right now.”

In her report, Marling then pivoted to highlighting the information regarding vaccinations in Mercer County.

“As we have all seen in the news an enormous supply and demand imbalance for COVID-19 vaccination, so at this time the Mercer County health departments have no guarantee on the amount of doses that we are receiving from week to week from the state,” she said. “I wanted to let everyone know we are posting information right now on our senior services website to have it one coordinated place with all of the registration links we are aware of.”

According to Mercer County spokesman Michael Boonin, Mercer County is currently receiving 800 doses a week of the Moderna vaccine, which is being allocated to municipal health departments based on a rotating schedule agreed to by the Mercer County Health Officers Association.

Vaccinations are currently available only for paid and unpaid persons who are healthcare personnel (Phase 1A), long-term care residents and staff (Phase 1A), first responders (Phase 1B), and individuals at high risk (Phase 1B), such as residents 65 and older and individuals ages 16-64 who have certain medical conditions.

Hopewell Township’s Health Department is also maintaining a notification list with email addresses and phone numbers within the department for residents who are eligible.

“We are trying to get out information when we can, when we learn of local opportunities to get them registered,” Marling said. “We understand that a lot of seniors do not have access to the internet or to even an email, so we will work with a family member, while coordinating with our senior services to reach out to them in the format that is easiest for them to find a spot. We are still encouraging residents to be registered at the state portal.”

In other news regarding the health department, they began interviews this week for a full-time public health nurse. The department seeks to find someone quickly, who will jump right into the departments vaccination efforts.

In addition to the public health nurse, the township committee voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Horacio Hernandez as “vulnerable populations outreach coordinator” for the department on Jan. 25.

“This would be the New Jersey Department of Health COVID grant that we applied for back in November and received it to enhance our local health department capacity to reach vulnerable populations,” Marling said. “This person will be doing a needs assessment, who will be collaborating with Mercer County with different social service agencies and really hone in on where we need to meet the needs of our residents that are not being met at this point.”