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Burlington County health director responds to uptick in COVID-19 risk

Burlington County Health Department Director Dr. Herb Conaway called for renewed vigilance by county residents about mask wearing and social distancing in the wake of an uptick in COVID-19 activity.

Burlington County’s COVID-19 infection risk moved from “moderate” to “high” on the latest COVID-19 Activity Level Index report issued by the New Jersey Department of Health, according to information provided by the county on March 29. The rating reflects increases in COVID-19 cases and a rise in the positivity rate from testing.

More than 33,000 Burlington County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 2020, and a total of 739 have died since the pandemic’s start last March, according to the statement.

There were 789 new cases in the county between March 19 and 25 for an average of 113 new cases a day, according to the statement.

“We’ve been battling this pandemic for over a year now so it’s easy to understand why people may be experiencing COVID-19 fatigue, but we must remember that the virus is still very active in our state and in our county and we cannot let down our guard,” Conaway said in the statement. “We’re at a critical time. Even though thousands of our residents are now fully vaccinated and thousands more are getting their COVID-19 shots every day, the presence COVID-19 variants and lax attention to proven infection control practices threaten to reverse the progress we’ve made since the winter spike.”

He encouraged residents to take a COVID-19 test if they exhibit symptoms or have contact with someone who tested positive and to seek an appointment for a vaccination if eligible.

COVID-19 testing continues to be available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the health department’s testing site at Rowan College at Burlington County’s Student Success Center off Route 38 in Mount Laurel. Testing is from 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Residents eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can register for an appointment at the Burlington County Vaccine Mega-Site in Moorestown at www.virtua.org/vaccine.

As of March 19, a total of 195,972 doses of vaccine had been administered to Burlington County residents, amounting to about 35% of the county’s population over the age 16, according to the statement.

“In Burlington County we’re making steady progress toward our goal of getting 70% of our adults vaccinated before summer. This is an encouraging development that offers us hope of an eventual end to the pandemic, but we are not there yet,” Conaway said in the statement. “Everyone must continue to wear masks in public, including those who have received vaccine, and everyone must continue to follow social-distancing rules and quarantine guidelines. Now is the time for renewed vigilance, not indifference of carelessness. If everyone continues to do their part, we can stop this recent uptick from growing into a more serious outbreak and help bring an end to this crisis once.”

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