Maplewood moves back into COVID mitigation stage

Photo Courtesy of CDC
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depicts coronavirus. The spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion when viewed electron microscopically, which gives the virus its name.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Mayor Frank McGehee said in a press release on Nov. 10 that Maplewood is moving back into the mitigation stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rising number of coronavirus cases in town does not allow it to enter into the reopening phase, as McGehee said at the beginning of May.

“Almost 8 months ago, in March, we declared a state of emergency in the township of Maplewood,” he said in the press release. “Eight weeks later, on May 9, I communicated that we were entering the next phase of the pandemic and moving away from the mitigation stage to the reopening stage of our community, but I also mentioned that we were not out of the woods yet by any stretch. Unfortunately, based on our recent numbers, we are moving back into a mitigation stage.”

In November, 45 positive cases of the virus have been confirmed, as of just Nov. 10. It is the highest total in recent months. In August, there were 17 cases confirmed; in September, there were 16 cases; and, in October, there were 44 cases.

“All activities have a certain level of risk, but keeping your gatherings small in the coming weeks and especially this holiday season is key,” McGehee said. “Attempt to keep your gatherings to immediate household members, and try to avoid travel or visiting those who are immunocompromised. If you are having any type of indoor gathering, we encourage people to wear face coverings. Unfortunately, many of our cases can be traced back to small, indoor gatherings where masks were not worn.”

The overall age range of residents who have tested positive for the virus in November is 1 to 82.

McGehee asked residents not to dismiss symptoms as a cold or allergies.

“Do not go anywhere if you’re sick, and do not dismiss it as a cold or allergies, especially if you are in a household where someone is actively quarantining due to exposure to a positive COVID case. Most of our cases are among people who were in direct close contact with a positive case,” he said. “If you have come in direct close contact with a positive case, please complete the 14-day quarantine, even if you tested negative and feel fine. Several new cases have shown symptoms later — Day 8 to 10 — of their quarantine/potential incubation period.”

The Maplewood Health Division is contact tracing the coronavirus cases and will contact anyone who has been in contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. Residents who receive a positive test result and have not heard from the health division should call 973-762-8120 to receive information about quarantining.

“Unfortunately, we have learned that there is a delay in lab data entry of positive COVID cases, especially rapid antigen results, statewide,” McGehee said.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced a new executive order that includes new COVID-19 mitigation measures; the order, No. 194, went into effect on Nov. 12. The order requires restaurants to close indoor dining by 10 p.m., suspends indoor interstate youth sports competitions and does not allow any municipality in the state to enact rules that will conflict with the state order.

“Our township’s Office of Emergency Management team met this afternoon to assess the governor’s latest Executive Order, No. 194, and how this impacts our community,” McGehee said. “The governor communicated these new limitations based on the significant increases all over the county and the state. In the coming days, we will provide a comprehensive communication for all businesses within the township to provide direction and assistance with addressing Executive Order 194. Please stay tuned.”