After a period of decline, cases of COVID-19 in South Orange and Maplewood are ticking up again.
South Orange has reported 90 cases in March alone. Of those, 26 cases (or 28% of the total) were Seton Hall University students, according to OEM Manager Scott Egelberg.
Since reopening in January, Seton Hall has reported a total 183 cases as of March 17.
Egelberg said there was no specific reason they could point to for the rise in cases, “other than it appears people are letting their guard down with this virus. It is frustrating and dangerous and in the strongest possible way, we strongly remind residents that this pandemic is not over. Social distancing and mask requirements have not been relaxed and everyone needs to remain vigilant with following all the COVID-19 guidelines. We just need to continue putting in the work so that life can go back to normal.” said Egelberg.
Cases are rising in Maplewood as well at a rate of 8 or 9 a day. There have been 135 cases in Maplewood since March 1 alone, for a total of 1,231 reported as of March 16.
Maplewood Health Officer Candice Davenport says that the new numbers indicate that Maplewood is moving in the wrong direction.
“…people need to still remain vigilant: continue to wear masks both indoors and outdoors, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly, avoid non-essential travel and large gatherings,” Davenport told Village Green in an email.
Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis said that hospitalizations statewide and county-wide are going down, but transmission is continuing.
“We really want to use this as an opportunity to send the message out there that now is not the time to let our guard down,” Dafis said. “We have to remain vigilant, especially as we are trying to vaccinate as many people as we can. This is not the time to have parties at home, to not mask, and to not socially distance.”
Dafis said many young people are testing positive for COVID-19. “We’re seeing a lot of cases in young people and while a lot of these people are not going to get sick, as the public health experts will say, we do not know what the long-term effects are of those who tested positive,” Dafis said.
“Let’s continue to do those things we’ve talked about over and over again: wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands, and please get vaccinated,” said Mayor Frank McGehee.