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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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CMCo Sees Spike in Covid Cases

omicron

By Vince Conti

COURT HOUSE – The county’s weekly Covid report, released  Dec. 3, showed a significant spike in cases. With 321 new cases in seven days, the county’s average daily new cases metric rose to 46, which is the highest per day average since late August. 

The report also shows 452 active community-based cases. That high of an active case total has not been seen in the county since the August and September delta-driven surge.  

County officials point to the rising cases across the Northeast as colder weather drives people to indoor activities. 

If the county is seeing this level of virus spread before the arrival of the new highly contagious omicron variant, the possibility exists for an even greater spike in cases soon. Omicron arrived in the U.S. and was detected in one case this week in northern New Jersey, involving a Georgia woman who recently returned from South Africa. The woman was fully vaccinated against Covid. Her symptoms are reported to be mild. 

The advice from public health officials is to increase the rate at which individuals get fully vaccinated as protection against severe illness.  

Although Gov. Phil Murphy, speaking of omicron, said, “Early evidence is that the impacts are mild,” the evidence of consistently mild infections is far from conclusive.  

Medical experts say it will be a while before it is known if the variant is more or less likely to lead to serious illness. Meanwhile, the delta variant is driving up the current case numbers. 

What’s Happening with Schools? 

Amid this new uptick in cases, the state is making it easier to access data on the level of school-based Covid infections. The new data shows the level of Covid infection in schools regardless of the source of the infection. 

Recent data shows 26 Cape May County schools reporting, with 13 new student cases and 12 new staff cases. The cumulative totals from the start of school are that 360 students and 76 school staff have tested positive. Schools have been in session for approximately 13 weeks. 

The rate at which students are showing confirmed cases is about the same as the state average, but the staff cases are increasing at a higher rate than the state average. 

The state reports that 81.6% of all school staff in Cape May County schools are fully vaccinated. That means that 18% of staff are subject to weekly testing, as required by Murphy’s mandatory vaccination order for school and child care personnel. 

The county’s 81.6% of school staff fully vaccinated is behind two-thirds of the state’s 21 counties. The county with the lowest rate of school staff fully vaccinated is Hudson County, with 78.7%. The highest rate is in Somerset County, at 91.3%. The state average is 84.1%. 

Vaccinations 

The weekly health department reports show a gain of only about 4% in the number of county individuals fully vaccinated in the two months since Oct. 8.  

While the county’s vaccination rate is among the highest in the state, there are still significant pockets of the population that have not received the vaccine for a variety of reasons.  

With a reported 68% of the population fully vaccinated, Cape May County’s rate is the same as the state average. 

The county has seen relatively wide acceptance of the booster shots, with 18,560 individuals reported as having received the booster. Booster shots are available to all fully vaccinated adults 18 and older if at least six months have elapsed since they became fully vaccinated. 

To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com. 

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