Montgomery Sees Rapid Increase in COVID Cases
Barbara A. Preston, Editor | NOVEMBER 24
New Jersey is now officially designated as a high transmission area, and cases in Montgomery Township soared in many categories by the end of November.
The Montgomery Health Department reported 66 new cases in one week. The health department only counts residents. It does not count people who work in Montgomery Township but who do not live in town.
Carrier Clinic, in Montgomery Township, had an outbreak of 53 cases on November 12. The number spread to 89 cases by November 24, which includes a mix of patients and employees. Contact tracing is still being conducted on the Carrier cases.
“Some Montgomery businesses have closed short term while their staffs are quarantined” according to Montgomery Health Officer Stephanie D. Carey. She said two of the businesses were restaurants.
The Carrier Clinic patients have been transferred to other Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals following the positive tests. Staff members self-isolated for 10 days. All employees must undergo a screening before being allowed in the building and no in-person visits are allowed.
Hackensack Meridian released a statement, saying, “We continue to follow all rigorous protocols established by the CDC and the New Jersey Department of Health. Experts from the network’s clinical teams and infectious disease teams are closely monitoring the situation.”
Carrier Clinic has completed an intensive cleaning of all facilities and treatment areas.
Another large employer in the township, the Montgomery School District, has closed the buildings through mid January. Teachers are conducting all learning online during this time. Also, all sports are postponed until “at least January, and possibly through March,” Health Officer Carey says.
Carey talked about the possibility of more “assertive enforcement of the governor’s orders,” at its most recent township committee meeting.
“Municipalities have the option of enforcing an 8 pm curfew on non-essential businesses,” Carey said.
However, Carey said Montgomery will follow Gov Murphy’s lead and would rather not force the community into submission of following the rules.
“We need policies and enforcement of the (CDC) guidelines,” she said. “But, what we really need like never before is for people to take personal responsibility.”
She reiterated the actions people should now know by heart:
– Wear a mask in public
– Socially distance
– Avoid large gatherings
– Participate in contact
tracing when appropriate.
The health department is asking Montgomery residents to take the “COVID-19 Pledge."
Montgomery Township / Rocky Hill Numbers as of November 24
– 350 confirmed and probable cases for Montgomery and Rocky Hill in total, of which:
– 294 presumed recovered
– 49 currently ill
– 7 fatalities
Carey says Montgomery is experiencing exponential growth in new cases of COVID.
“We are at the point where most cases cannot be linked to a specific, known exposure because the virus is circulating so widely in the community,” Carey said.
Gov Murphy has restricted indoor gatherings to 10 people, but Carey advises Montgomery residents to avoid hosting or attending indoor social events with anybody except for “the people you live with.”
Carey said the dramatic rise in new, local COVID-19 cases, are linked to sporting events, gatherings around sporting events, play dates, indoor socializing, and workplace exposure.
Montgomery residents are encouraged to limit Thanksgiving gatherings to household members only.