As is the case for much of New Jersey, Covid cases are on the rise in South Orange and Maplewood this fall, after dropping since the peak of the pandemic in the spring.
Thus far in the month of October, South Orange has reported a total of 21 positive test cases, 5 of whom are teenagers, according to Village President Sheena Collum. As of October 19, “South Orange has 143 positive test cases and 4,242 negative test cases,” said Collum in an email to the community.
She continued, “Our Health Department continues to partner with our local schools to ensure families are being reminded on a consistent basis the importance of taking the proper public health precautions including but not limited to: face coverings, social distancing and hand hygiene.”
Collum noted that Seton Hall University has reported 10 positive test cases on campus since its fall reopening.
Last week as South Orange reported 5 cases in one day, Collum warned residents against complacency: “We cannot, we cannot allow this to happen,” she said. “Having five positive test cases in one day after we had close to five weeks of zero, showing a spike in cases.”
“For those feeling a little more comfortable in the fall: Don’t,” Collum implored.
In Maplewood, Mayor Frank McGehee said 19 Covid cases had been reported so far in October; 9 of those (or 47%) are teenagers. That is compared to 17 new cases in August and 16 in September. Maplewood’s cumulative total since the pandemic began in March is 388, McGehee said.
Town and school officials issued warnings in the last week about the rise in cases in both towns, at least some of which was fueled by indoor and outdoor parties and gatherings among teenagers and led to some sports teams seeing their practices suspended as the virus spreads among Columbia High School students. Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday that many of the state’s new cases are coming from private, at-home gatherings. “Especially as the cooler weather pulls more of us back inside, we have to remain extra-vigilant,” Murphy said, according to NJ.com.
Meanwhile, the South Orange-Maplewood School District is planning to return to some form of in-person/hybrid classes on November 12.