Home • Camden County News Breakthrough cases and precautions for holiday discussed at COVID panel

Breakthrough cases and precautions for holiday discussed at COVID panel

Camden County officials recommend getting vaccinated, tested

EMILY LIU/The Sun: The Camden County Health Hub will have expanded hours in the new year, beginning Jan. 3.

Since the Camden County COVID panel last met on Dec. 2, the County has seen an uptick in COVID cases. Camden County Commissioner Jon Young, with Chief Patient Safety and Quality Officer for Jefferson Health, Dr. David May and Assistant Public Health Coordinator for Camden County, Caryelle Lasher shared updates and discussed where Camden County stood with the virus and vaccinations.

Since the last town hall on Dec. 2,

  • The average number of daily cases doubled from 115 to 235
  • The average infection rate increased from 1.12 to 1.13. The infection rate refers to the number of people a person might transmit the virus to as noted in the last panel. The goal is to be less than 1.0.
  • The test positivity rate has risen from 5.1 to 9.4 percent, which is higher than the 7 percent positivity rate in September. 
  • 510 South Jersey residents are hospitalized, an increase from the 262 residents hospitalized earlier this month. 
  • There have been four deaths in Camden County in the past week due to COVID.
  • The total vaccination rate has increased from 62.9 percent to around 65 percent. Young reported that 374,000 residents have at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 329,000 individuals are fully vaccinated. While the previous panel had reported 445,000 residents received their first dose, Camden County External Communication Manager Molly Shelly explained that was due to a filtering issue with the system, and the number has been corrected to be lower than previously counted. As of Dec. 20, the final count for those in the county who received their first dose of the vaccine was 377,133 people. 
  • 106,000 individuals have received their booster shots. All adults are eligible to receive their booster shots along with 16 and 17 year olds who can receive their boosters from Pfizer.
  • The predominant strain of COVID in NJ continues to be Delta.

“As cases rise, we need all the protection we can get,” Young said.

The panel also discussed the potential risk with gathering for the holidays and advised people to continue to take COVID precautions like getting vaccinated, wearing masks, washing hands regularly and staying home from gatherings if they feel symptomatic.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in COVID positive patients coming into the emergency room, being admitted to the hospital and unfortunately dying,” May said.

Young noted that more than 95 percent of the residents who are being hospitalized or dying are unvaccinated. The hospitals, according to May, are not yet at full capacity or to the point where they have to cancel elective operations. 

Lasher explained that vaccinated individuals make up around 10 to 30 percent of cases on a high week, but that it’s still a small amount.

“Say we have 100 cases in a day, (and) maybe 20 of those cases are vaccinated,” Lasher said. “That’s 20 out of 330,000. That’s still very small.”

“It’s never been said that if you get the vaccination that you will not get COVID, we just said you won’t be severely hospitalized or ill and you won’t die,” Young said.

She also provided updates for COVID in schools. While 3,000 students and staff have been infected, only 5 percent of the transmission has happened in school. The rest have been traced back to outside events.

To cater to the increased demand for testing, the Camden County Health Hub is offering testing before Christmas and before New Years from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Dec. 21, Dec. 27 and Dec. 28.

Following Jan. 3, the hub will shift to have expanded hours. It will be holding vaccination clinics on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m, and on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In light of the increased demand for testing, Lasher shared that in addition to testing at the Health Hub and CamCare at the Clementon and Camden locations, residents can also receive free, no-cost testing kits from the NJ Department of Health at covid19.nj.gov which can be sent via mail. 


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