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Officials Say Ocean County Coronavirus Surge Has ‘Plateaued’

Coronavirus (Image: CDC)

Coronavirus (Image: CDC)

Ocean County is still dealing with a number of municipalities with vaccination rates below the state’s threshold goal of 70 percent, but the number of new cases seems to have reached a plateau, County Commissioner Gerry P. Little said Wednesday.

“We are seeing a bit of a plateau of cases in the mid-200s,” Little said, referencing the number of new cases confirmed each day, county-wide. “It’s been approximately that way for a week and a half. It’s concerning, but we’re not seeing a major spike.”

The county added 201 cases Wednesday, plus one death. Presently, 20 out of the county’s 33 municipalities have at least one active case. Twenty-three long term care centers in the county have at least one active case among residents.

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“Very sadly, six people overnight [Tuesday] died in our nursing homes,” said Little, at Wednesday’s work session meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

The good news, officials say, is that vaccination rates are rising. Last month, five municipalities were flagged as having low vaccination rates. It dropped to three – Lakewood, Jackson and Lacey townships – two weeks ago, and has since fallen to two. Jackson is just below the 70 percent threshold, however Lakewood and Lacey are still lagging the county as a whole, with 42 and 61 percent, respectively, of residents above age 12 vaccinated

Ocean County is continuing its organizational efforts to deliver a third dose of certain vaccines when they are authorized to do so. Pfizer has received federal approval for a booster, however demand has been low thus far locally.

“So far, the CDC has only approved Pfizer, and we do not have a large demand for Pfizer here in Ocean County since most of our Health Department vaccinations were from Moderna, which hasn’t been approved yet,” Little explained. “We’re waiting on that.”

Seaside Heights during the coronavirus pandemic, May 2020. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Seaside Heights during the coronavirus pandemic, May 2020. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The county has begun operating a vaccine clinic at Toms River High School North again, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A second clinic is operating at Southern Regional Middle School, Manahawkin, Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a third is operating at the Ocean County Transportation Services Complex in Manchester each Monday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome, officials said.

“We have to convey our deepest appreciation to the Toms River school district and the Southern Regional school district because they have, again, donated their space for our fixed sites,” Little said.

The county is planning 34 mobile clinics for the traditional flu shot, where coronavirus vaccines will also be available. Ultimately, officials urged residents to speak with their physician to determine the best course of protection from the virus.

“Each person in this room is different,” said Commissioner Joseph Vicari. “To maximize the effectiveness, you should have the information from your doctor that’s right for you.”

Ocean County has tallied 77,097 cases of the novel coronavirus and 2,120 deaths.

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