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Princeton, Montgomery see spike in COVID-19 cases with holiday season

Municipalities statewide are dealing with an uptick in new COVID-19 cases during the holiday season.

Montgomery Township and Princeton are no exception. As residents plan to travel for Christmas and prepare to also take in the New Year, state and municipal officials continue to stress the importance of reducing risk by masking up, social distancing and taking COVID-19 tests before gathering and travel.

According to the Montgomery Township Health Department’s Dec. 17 report, in the recent week, Montgomery Township and Rocky Hill have had 36 new cases of COVID-19. The Health Department stated that its highest reported case count in more than eight months.

“We’re seeing a significant rise in cases, partly due to the recent Thanksgiving holiday, but also because colder weather is leading people to spend more time indoors where air circulation is reduced,” Health Officer Devangi Patel said. “It’s very important that adults get booster shots and children get their first shots as we head into even colder weather and the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, when people will be gathering more often.”

She also stressed for people to get tested before and after travel and wear masks when entering indoor public places.

In Princeton, as of Dec. 20, the Princeton Health Department reported 42 news cases of COVID-19 in a seven-day period and 75 new cases in a two-week period leading up to Dec. 20.

So far for Princeton, resident populations age 60 and over and 80 and up are 100% fully vaccinated. The 18 and over population is 82% fully vaccinated and age group of 12 and up is 83% fully vaccinated. Regarding booster shots, the Health Department states that 44% of those 18 and over have received a booster shot.

According to Princeton University’s COVID-19 Dashboard, the campus risk status is moderate to high. As of Dec. 20, the most recent data from Dec. 11-17 published by the university shows 98 positive COVID-19 cases in 16,942 tests.

Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases among undergraduate students, the university made the decision to have fall semester final exams occur remotely and require booster shots by Jan.31 for the Spring semester for all faculty, staff, students and researchers who are eligible to receive one.

In Mercer County, there are 192 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. From Nov. 27 to Dec. 20, the county had seen an increase of 126 cases when the newly confirmed cases went on to rise from 66 on Nov. 27 to 192 for Dec. 20.

“We know what we must do to protect ourselves and loved ones from contracting the virus – wear masks in public places, practice physical distancing and frequently wash your hands – but the best prevention strategy is to get vaccinated and get your booster shot,” Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes said to Mercer County residents in a statement released on Dec. 17.

Statewide, 6,505 new cases had been reported as of Dec. 20, according to the state COVID-19 dashboard. Previously on Dec. 8, the state had 3,274 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Gov. Phil Murphy, at his coronavirus briefing on Dec. 20, said the state is now seeing daily case counts hitting levels that have not been seen since mid-January of this year.

“We are seeing a significant increase in cases right now. Yesterday, we had the highest number of positive PCR cases (6,533) that we have since January of 2021,” said Judy Persichilli, commissioner of the NJ Department of Health, on Dec. 20. “This surge is most likely due to Delta and Omicron variants. With cases rising, and holiday gatherings and travel, we want everyone to protect themselves.”

Persichilli also stressed at the briefing that residents should stay home if they are sick and get tested before any holiday gatherings.

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