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COVID-19 cases rising at alarming rate in Mercer County

COVID-19 infections were dropping earlier this year in Mercer County, but new variants have emerged that are more contagious than the original virus and the number of new cases is rising. Source: COVID Act Now.

The Trenton Health Team and community health care providers have expressed concern about the rising COVID-19 infection rate in Mercer County and the growing risk of hospitalization and death for anyone who is unvaccinated. 

In Mercer County, COVID-19 is spreading faster now than any time this year and the county risk level is high.  Since July 1, COVID-19 infection rates have climbed more than 60 percent — from .8 to 1.3, according to COVID Act Now. That means each person who is ill spreads the virus to more than one other person, resulting in widespread infection.

“I’m really worried about how dangerous it is right now for everyone remaining unvaccinated,” warned Dr. Rachael Evans, chief medical officer at Henry J. Austin Health Center. “Almost all of the new COVID infections are people without vaccines. COVID is spreading faster and hitting younger people and children harder — and they have no protection.”

Safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are available for free at pharmacies and other locations to anyone age 12 and up who lives, works, or studies in New Jersey. No insurance is required. No citizenship status is required. Find a vaccine location here. 

This month, Mercer County COVID-19 cases have spiked from .7 per 100,000 to 5.8 per 100,000 so far, a 600% increase and the highest weekly average in nearly two months. 

“We have an incredible opportunity to prevent the next wave of COVID-19 created by the new variants we are seeing in New Jersey,” said Dr. Eric Schwartz, executive director of Capital Health’s Institute for Urban Care. “Now is the time to get the vaccine to help protect ourselves, our families, our friends and our community.”

The Delta variant has recently surged in Mercer County, accounting for more than 80% of new cases this month, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. Data shows that people infected with Delta have higher viral loads—meaning more virus in their bodies—than with previous variants, and Delta spreads about twice as easily from one person to another than previous COVID-19 strains.

“We have come too far to give up any ground to COVID-19,” said Dr. Adela M. Ames-Lopez, director of health and human services for the City of Trenton. “Much of the progress we’ve seen in opening up businesses and social gatherings has been made possible because of nationwide efforts to expand access to the vaccine. Thanks to those efforts, anyone in Mercer County can find a location near them and get a vaccine for free right now. It has never been easier to protect yourself and your loved ones from the pandemic.”  

COVID-19 safety guidelines are still effective to reduce risk of infection. Health care officials advise people to washing hands with soap, keeping at least 6 feet away from others in public, wearing face masks and avoiding crowded indoor activities. Vaccines remain the most effective way to protect against infection and to help stop COVID-19. 

“COVID-19 is doing what a virus does best: find someone to infect and then evolve to stay alive and spread,” said Trenton Health Team Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “Vaccines rob the virus of that chance. Vaccines protect you and help stop the virus from becoming more dangerous.” 

Written by
Krystal Knapp

Krystal has been a journalist in the Trenton area since 1999. A graduate of Smith College and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is from Detroit. She likes baseball, cats, jazz, ukulele, typewriters, chai, and good coffee. Follow her @planettrenton.

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Written by Krystal Knapp