COVID-19 November 2023 Newsletter  

By: Matt McGovern, MPH, CHES, LINCS COVID-19 Epidemiologist/Data Manager 

We are entering respiratory season, where viruses like COVID-19, flu, and RSV cases and severity typically rise. In reference to COVID-19, New Jersey has seen an uptick in percent positivity of tests, meaning that there is a larger number of positive test results out of all those being tested for COVID. The reported number is likely much larger than what is being reported because of the prominence of at-home testing, which is not mandatory for reporting purposes to a physician or Local Health Department. Hospital admissions have also risen each week for the past 3 months in NJ, with a slight decline in the most recent week reported (as of 10/14/23). From a county perspective, Morris County was in the medium level of COVID-19 hospital admissions for a few weeks until this week when it dropped back into the low level due to the slight decline in hospital admissions. However, it is paramount to remain vigilant as respiratory activity will continue to pick up and gain steam as the holidays approach. Here is a guide of how to protect yourself and your family, as well as your communities, schools, and workplaces when the hospital admission levels are low, medium, and high. The current level (low) is highlighted below: Graphical user interface, text, application, email

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It is also imperative to protect yourself via vaccination. There are new COVID-19 vaccines available for the 2023-2024 season. Here is some pertinent information via the CDC:Text, application

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The new COVID-19 vaccines target the currently circulating XBB lineage of the Omicron variant and its subvariants and renew protection for those with waning immunity from a previous vaccination or infection for example. Here is the full COVID-19 vaccination guide for different age groups with options included for those who are immunocompromised. Moreover, it is recommended that you wait at least 2 months from your previous COVID vaccination to get the new formulation of the vaccine. Additionally, if you recently had COVID-19, you still need to stay up to date with your vaccines, but you can delay receiving your vaccine by 3 months because of infection-based immunity. Lastly, due to COVID-19 vaccines becoming commercialized, the CDC’s Bridge Access Program is helping those without health insurance and with insurance that does not cover all COVID-19 vaccine costs with access to this updated vaccine. To learn more about the CDC’s Bridge Access Program, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/bridge/index.html  

To learn more about COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, please see below for further resources:  

  • COVID-19 Testing: 
  • Reporting At Home Test Results: 
  • Safely report at home COVID-19 test results for yourself or a family member through the National Institute of Health (NIH)’s “Make My Test Count” initiative. Visit https://makemytestcount.org/  for more information. 
  • No-Cost COVID-19 Testing Sites near you by Zipcode: 
  • Free, Public COVID-19 Testing Sites by County in NJ:  
  • COVID-19 Vaccines: 
  • Free Updated COVID-19 Vaccines via Bridge Program: 
  • Providers Participating in the Bridge Program are contractually obligated to add vaccine availability to: https://www.vaccines.gov/  
  • Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines:  
  • COVID-19 Immunization Schedule for All Age Groups (6 Months Old and Older): 

I can be reached at mmcgovern@mcpik.org