Maplewood in ‘Great Shape But Not Out of the Woods’ with COVID-19, Says Health Officer

by Kelvin Jimenez Michaca
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Maplewood Health Officer Candice Davenport delivered positive news related to COVID-19 ,and a presentation on the latest causes of death in New Jersey, at the Township Committee meeting on June 1. 

“We are in great shape but not out of the woods yet,” Davenport said. 

According to Davenport the total number of COVID cases as of June 1 was 1,541. The total number of cases for May is 32, which she said was a far cry from the number of cases seen in April, 144 cases.

“So, our caseload has been dropping significantly,” Davenport said. “We do believe that this is in part because of the increased vaccination rates that we have in our town, as well as around the state, so this is good.” 

Davenport said that 390 people were able to get tested at the Springfield Avenue testing site between April and May. 

Davenport shared that there are 4,235,201 people fully vaccinated in New Jersey. She mentioned that Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal is to vaccinate 70% of the adult population, 18 and over, which would total to 4.7 million by the end of this month.

Davenport broke down the number of persons vaccinated by age group and dose quantity. 

According to Davenport, as of May 25, 64% of individuals ages 12 and over are fully vaccinated, 14% of those individuals are getting their first doses for a potential total of 78%. For individuals 18 and over, Davenport said there was a potential total of 81%, with 70% being fully vaccinated.

“These are all good signs, we’re moving in the right direction. We still have to encourage people to get vaccinated, though, and initiate that first initial dose, so that we can get more people, and our herd immunity, and our overall community protection up all the more,” Davenport said. 

“As for those who are 65 and older, our seniors are at a potential total of 97%. They are the highest number of fully vaccinated, they’ve had a longer time to get vaccinated, but this is all hopeful, this will reduce our hospitalizations and deaths among the elderly,” she said. 

Davenport also informed Maplewood residents of the latest trends in causes of death among New Jersey residents from 2010 to 2019. Heart disease and cancer have consistently been the two leading causes, with unintentional injury bumping up to third from fifth place. This information was provided by a New Jersey State Health Department database called the State Health Assessment Data.

“Unintentional injury includes accidents, poisonings, both from drugs, alcohol, fumes, pesticides, accidental poisonings, and accidents, motor vehicle crashes, falls, fire drowning, and suffocation,” Davenport said. 

Davenport added that unintentional injuries are for the most part preventable. 

“So, we have our work cut out for us to increase awareness,” she said. 

Davenport advised residents to maintain their properties in advance of the construction at all of the elementary schools that will be taking place at the end of the month. 

“This major construction at each of these sites may cause some rodent issues. So we are asking, and we’ve spoken with the school district. They’re aware and are increasing their efforts to put out rodent control practices 10 to 15 days prior to construction and they’re on board with that,” Davenport said. 

“However, this is a note to educate the residents around those schools that any major construction may cause a disturbance in rodent control so please maintain your property,” she said.

Committee member Greg Lembrich asked Davenport, “At what point do you think it will be safe for us…from a health and safety standpoint, to resume in-person meetings in township buildings?”

Davenport said that she would leave that ultimate decision up to the TC, but her feeling was that if everyone was comfortable, fully vaccinated and airflow was maintained throughout the room then they should be able to conduct in-person meetings safely. 

“When you open up to being in person, there’s also the discussion of bringing people into the building as well,” Davenport said. “So, again, it behooves all of us to make sure that everyone is vaccinated as much as possible.” 

Davenport advised of the precautions that should be taken by those who are unvaccinated.

“If they’re unvaccinated, we have signs on our doors, already in place at town hall and all the township buildings, saying that anyone who’s unvaccinated we are strongly recommending to please wear your mask indoors and exercise caution when you are outdoors engaging in social activities.”

“…I would always say to move slowly and gradually into it so you can start off in person, bring more people in slowly, as you see fit,” Davenport said. 

For information on where to locate a vaccine site or any information regarding COVID-19 in New Jersey visit covid19.nj.gov.

And to learn more about New Jersey’s Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES) visit njpies.org

 

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