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Local health officer talks about numbers and reopening

by MercerMe Staff

Yesterday, Hopewell Township Committee member Julie Blake sat down, over Zoom, with Stephanie Carey, the Health officer for all the municipalities in the Hopewell Valley, to ask some questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the first of four videos they produced. The video was posted by Hopewell Township – transcript by MercerMe.

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Blake: Hi, I’m Julie Blake from Hopewell Township and I’m on the Township Committee and I’m here with Stephanie Carey who is our Health Officer. I’m just going to ask her a few questions about what’s going on with our response to COVID-19 and what it means for us here in Hopewell Township.

The first thing I’d like to ask you, Stephanie, is that our numbers changed. They went from reporting at 95 down to 86 – that was today – and I was hoping you could explain to us why that is and what happened.

Carey: Thank you. Whenever you are counting large numbers there’s going to be a little bit of variation. And that variation gets really pronounced when you start breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces. Every case in New Jersey is given a distinctive, unique identifying number so we know statewide that the number of cases is correct information.

What happens is, in New Jersey, we cross jurisdictions for our daily activities, so sometimes a case is reported where the person lives, sometimes a case is reported where they work, and sometimes a case is reported where they sought medical attention. In particular, early in the epidemic, we were quickly assigning cases to municipalities. So now that we have more accurate information about where a case lives, we are handing that case over to the home municipality, so those are the statewide numbers, but the municipal numbers changed.

Blake: So, the number in the State is the same, it’s just being shifted amongst municipalities, is that correct?

Carey: Correct.

Blake: Ok great. I had another question for you because I understand that we haven’t had new numbers for several days now. I’m sure people are wondering when we can actually change our behavior –maybe you can supply some insight about that.

Carey: Ok I just want to emphasize this is a marathon not a sprint.  Reopening will be a steady, gradual process based on the data. And it’s good news that we’ve seen a week or so of steady cases in the municipality – that is no new cases in the people who live in Hopewell Township. But we need to see those numbers stay down across our area as we gradually open up safely, practicing social distancing and respecting one another in our means to say safe and to show courtesy to one another by practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

Blake: Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time and I will talk to you in a few minutes to ask some more questions.

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