Collum Encourages South Orange Residents to ‘Remain Vigilant’ as COVID-19 Vaccines Roll Out

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South Orange Village President Sheena Collum urged residents to continue taking COVID-19 precautions as she provided an updated tally of the latest cases and vaccination numbers at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.

“We’re starting to feel a little more safe than we should,” Collum said. “Don’t. December was the worst month in South Orange. The great thing is people are getting tested, but I feel that is a false sense of security when we start talking about Pfizer and Moderna and people are getting vaccinated.”

“We’re probably still going to be feeling the effects of the holiday season for a while,” Collum said. “We have to remain vigilant for the foreseeable future.

According to Collum, 9,000 people in Essex County and roughly 200 residents of South Orange have been vaccinated. As of Jan. 10, 50 people have tested positive for the coronavirus over the prior 11 days.

Collum contrasted the positive case number with the early days of the pandemic and fall season when there were no positive cases.

“Early in the fall we had zeroes posted for 3 weeks in a row,” Collum said.

Those eligible for vaccination are a part of Phase 1A which includes essential healthcare workers, healthcare volunteers at testing sites and first responders. That includes South Orange’s police and fire departments.

Collum praised more than 1,200 South Orange and Maplewood residents who signed up to be volunteers at Essex County testing sites and came out in “tremendous energy to be a part of this effort.”

Collum encouraged those volunteers to “play the long game” with respect to them being called to a test site.

“If you haven’t heard back immediately to show up at a test site, things are still, again, coming out slowly, this is a small group right now, the smallest of most of the groups in 1A, and also including the long term care facilities. But we’re going to be here for a while doing this.”

According to, “The State’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of the adult population — or 4.7 million adults — within six months.”

Collum discouraged residents from letting the availability of vaccines give them a false sense of safety.

Collum advised local residents to not let their guard down with COVID health precautions.

“Until we have well over 70 percent of all residents in New Jersey and surrounding states have that vaccine, we can’t let go of some of these things that we’ve been taught,” Collum said.

Collum urged residents to follow guidelines and recommendations from public health experts and not social media.

“Your neighbor is not a source. Neither is Facebook,” Collum said. “Wash those hands, [maintain] social distancing, quarantine, don’t go out if you have the sniffles, avoid the groups, especially large indoor gatherings,” Collum said. “If you don’t know where your kids are, double-check. … We’ve got to stay on top of all those things. And we’ve got to be very good because we can’t overwhelm our healthcare system right now. There is light at the end of this tunnel, but we’re not there, and we’re not going to be there for quite some time. So, the best way we can take care of each other is to stay apart for the time being.”

To find the latest vaccination and volunteer information and COVID-19 vaccine guidance updates, sign up for alerts on the Village of South Orange website.

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