Montgomery Township Health Officer Stephanie Carey briefed the Pennington Council on the latest information regarding COVID-19.
The Montgomery Township Health Department provides health services to both Pennington and Hopewell Borough in addition to Montgomery Township. In a presentation to the Pennington Council on Feb. 1, Carey said when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic it is a marathon, not a sprint.
“There is some light at the end of the tunnel. Case counts across New Jersey are starting to come come down, granted from a high level, but we are at the lowest levels of infection since Thanksgiving,” she said. “About 7% of New Jerseyans have received their first COVID-19 vaccination. In particular, with a focus on nursing home residents and medical providers who are at high risk of exposure, as we see more nursing homes become vaccinated the outbreaks that have been such a source of illness and suffering should be decreasing.”
Vaccinations continue to be 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.
Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said in his State of the County address on Jan. 28 that the county will start receiving additional doses this week. State officials had been providing 800 vaccine doses per week and with the additional doses the new total per week is set to be 1,500 doses.
“The vaccine is beginning to become available. Do not get me wrong, demand far outstrips supply and the signup process can feel like a foot race for available appointment slots,” Carey said. “This week, will see our first senior clinics in Hopewell Valley. These clinics are already full, because of the long waiting lists that have already accumulated by the Hopewell Valley Senior program. We are working in collaboration with Mercer County Health Officers Association.”
The clinics Carey referred to are focusing on seniors over the age of 75.
“Particularly those who have trouble with transportation or driving very far. We are grateful to be able to offer this service to the seniors of Hopewell Township, Pennington Borough and Hopewell Borough,” she said. “First choice is to go to covidvaccine.nj.gov and get pre-registered if you have access to the internet and when appointments become available you will receive an alert that allows you to sign up.”
In addition to registering online, Carey suggested that several hospital systems such as Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas and Penn Medicine also have separate registration systems, where residents could sign up for appointments when they come available.
“Supplies will improve, but this will be a process that comes gradually over the coming weeks and months. We have to preserver,” she said. “We have to keep wearing masks, practicing social distancing, as we try to vaccinate Americans at a scale not attempted in living memory. Keeping wearing your masks even after being vaccinated, so you can help against the spread.”