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County discusses quarantine guidelines, testing expansion at town hall

Statewide Test-To-Stay program is now being implemented

COVID cases are spiking to an unprecedented high in Camden County, with daily averages at 1,100, as reported at the Jan. 5 Camden County COVID town hall.

County Commissioner Jon Young was joined by Congressman Donald Norcross and Assistant Public Health Coordinator Caryelle Lasher to provide updates and answer questions about COVID.

Since the panel last convened on Dec. 20, Young reports:

  • Daily cases are averaging 1,116 per day, roughly five times higher than the 235 average three weeks ago
  • The infection rate increased from 1.13 to 1.46. (As previously reported, the rate refers to the number of people a person might transmit the virus to and the goal is to be less than 1.0.)
  • The test positivity rate increased from 9.4 to 12.8 percent.
  • Hospitalization rates doubled, from 510 to 1,151 South Jersey residents in the hospitals
  • There have been 14 COVID-related deaths in the past week due to COVID
  • More than 385,000 residents have gotten one dose of vaccine and more 334,000 are fully vaccinated, bringing the vaccination rate up to 66 percent in Camden County
  • 132,000 residents get their third dose or booster shot

COVID tests

According to Infectious Disease Specialist Henry Fraimow of Cooper University Health Care, people should get tested for COVID if they have symptoms that might be consistent with COVID, if they are close contacts or exposed to people with documented COVID or if testing is required for their job, school or other specific situations. 

Norcross defined a close contact as being within 6 feet of the same contact for an accumulated total of 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, or being exposed through respiratory excretions (like sneezing or coughing.)

For close contacts who are not symptomatic, both the panel and Fraimow recommend testing five days after the initial contact, as most who are infected will be positive by then, but test sooner if you have symptoms.

“Symptoms, especially in vaccinated individuals, can be very mild, and may be similar to those you might have with allergies or with a common cold such as sinus congestion or a sore throat,” Fraimow said in an email to The Sun. “You should presume that you could be positive until your test is back.”

When to quarantine

After testing positive, one should isolate for five days. Those who are symptomatic following the five-day period should continue to isolate until the symptoms subside and it’s been 24 hours since a fever. Following isolation, people should continue to wear a well-fitting mask and avoid settings where they need to take their mask off (like restaurants and the gym) as well as visiting hospitals, nursing homes, immunocompromised individuals. 

It is not necessary to test negative to end quarantine after the five-day period, as the CDC guidelines are based on the improvement of symptoms and no fever.

In other news;

  • The county has seen 4,000 COVID cases in staff and students but transmission rates within school remained low, at around 5 percent of the cases. Hospitalization rates for children are 1 to 4 percent of cases in minors nationally
  • New Jersey is rolling out a Test-To-Stay program, which enables asymptomatic students who may have been exposed to COVID in school to take a series of rapid tests before coming to school to stay in school. The program details are still being worked out, and the county met with superintendents on Jan. 6.
  • As for remote learning, the county is not making any blanket recommendations at the moment, but is working with schools on a one-on-one basis to determine what would work best for the school. Factors being considered include the number of students, building capacity and staffing capabilities as some schools have gone remote due to the number of staff who are quarantining. 
  • Full vaccination has been updated to include having the booster shot.
  • Testing is available at the Health Hub at Camden County College in Blackwood, Charles DePalma Department of Public Works complex in Lindenwold, Cooper University Hospital in Camden and Cooper Specialty Care in Cherry Hill (specifically catering to asymptomatic people). Sites offer either nasal swab or saliva testing; those getting the saliva test should not eat or drink 30 minutes prior to the test. To schedule an appointment, visit https://bit.ly/3eWOPVW.
  • Testing kits can also be ordered online at learn.vaulthealth.com/nj.

The full viewing of the livestreamed town hall is available on Camden County’s Facebook page as well as camdencounty.com/live.


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