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COURT HOUSE - Covid is still lurkingraising the number of new cases and individuals with active infections. Each day this week (March 30-April 5), active cases were higher than at any point since mid-February.   

Even with lower daily numbers toward the end of the week, the seven-day period averaged 30 new resident cases a day.  

Mid-week, Cape Regional Medical Center (CRMC) reported the hospital is seeing an uptick in Covid patients, adding the patient profile trended to a younger demographic than in the past. 

On the brighter side, the week’s reports on Covid spread showed the long-term care facilities, hit hard in spring 2020, have zero active cases.  

Since the pandemic started, long-term care facilities accounted for 514 reported cases, just over 6% of the county’s total. The nature of the population in these locations made many of those infected with the virus more susceptible to serious complications.  

Of those 514 confirmed cases in these facilities, 97 individuals succumbed to the virus, while 81% of the infected individuals recovered and were removed from quarantine. 

In the past week, community spread was the concern. For the first time, more community residents became fatalities of the disease than long-term care facility residents, with 100 community resident fatalities.  

The county’s community numbers declined from the late fall and winter peaks, but the case totals are also inching up again from lower points just three weeks ago. 

The vaccination program is trending well. The county reports 26,985 residents are fully vaccinated, and another 11,850 received at least one shot.  

Supplies are increasing, with reason to believe the daily vaccination numbers will rise with the availability of additional doses. The county also initiated an effort to identify homebound individuals needing vaccination.  

For many, the struggle to get an appointment remains. For some, vaccine sites’ complexities with appointment scheduling methods, along with needed technology skills, can be too great a challenge.  

Many municipalities instituted mechanisms to assist residents. In addition, volunteers established social media sites to provide information and assistance. One such site, New Jersey Covid Vaccine Info, has a Facebook page that, as of April 5, has 139,000 members, double what it had at the start of March.  

Using the state’s Covid dashboard as a guide, it appears virus variants are not yet vying for dominance in southern New Jersey. The race to vaccinate people as a bulwark against the virus’s ability to mutate is an ongoing struggle in which the virus has not yet gained the upper hand.  

Media reports speak of a fourth wave underway, while health experts, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggest the vaccination program may keep any fourth wave at bay. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidance, suggesting fully vaccinated individuals can safely travel domestically. That same day, the CDC director advised against unnecessary travel. The seemingly conflicting advice from the CDC encapsulates the present dilemma.  

Health officials want to motivate people to become fully vaccinated and are using the latest science to say what fully vaccinated individuals can safely do. Yet, the counter recommendation from CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that “now is not the time to travel,” demonstrates the fear of giving the virus a new opening and wanting to continue to urge caution lest those not fully vaccinated inaccurately interpret the freedom of others. 

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

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