CLARK, NJ – COVID-19 cases in town continue to increase this week according to Health Officer Nancy Raymond.   Her first words of advice to residents? “Stay home if you are sick.”  She continued, “Early symptoms can mimic seasonal allergies, a normal cold or the flu, so if you feel sick, stay home.”

Clark saw 25 new cases this week according to Raymond. This represents the highest single week increase since the lull of summer when the township saw one or two cases in a seven-day cycle.

This week’s cases bring the total in the township since March to 333. This number includes those that have recovered, are recovering, or have died from the virus said Raymond.  Four additional cases are still under investigation.   

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Community Spread

Close contact seems to be at the root of many of the case transmissions Raymond has seen in town.   Sports-related activities, mingling socially and families in shared space topped the list. 

Raymond advises individuals to stay put, monitor symptoms, and get medical attention if needed.  "If testing is done, people do not realize they should not be out," she said. “When someone gets tested, they need to stay home until they get the results.”

“In some homes, not everyone has their own room, or there may be only one bathroom,” said Raymond.  “In others a sole adult is the only caretaker for young children so complete isolation and quarantine from the whole family isn’t always possible. “

Raymond contacts those individuals that are under quarantine and/or those that have tested positive.   She consults with them to provide guidance and support to the patient and others that share the living space. 

“Most people I speak with are very nice, helpful and cooperative,” said Raymond. “I really appreciate that.  I am not there to badger or harass them, just to give guidance. “

Assisting Individuals and Families Through COVID

As part of her work, Raymond helps individuals, and their families determine the length of time they must quarantine.  The time is not the same for everyone she explained.  It depends on the date the person tested positive, the date symptoms first appeared and other factors. 

The dates for quarantine for family members are not the same as the original patient either as they often begin to show symptoms later.    “Negative today, positive tomorrow,” Raymond said is something she tries to get through to folks in close contact to someone with COVID.  What she means is, just because you tested negative today, does not mean it won’t change tomorrow as it can take the two to fourteen days for the virus to show up.

In totality quarantines can last many weeks from the time the first member of a household shows symptoms until the last one clears according to Raymond.   This is why she spends time in the household providing resources if needed to help them remain in quarantine for the prescribed period of time.  

In her efforts Raymond  has supplied families with gift-cards to grocery shop online, so they don’t need to leave their home,  made runs to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for them and even provided  COVID disinfecting kits and showed them how to try to mitigate the virus in common spaces at home.

Contact Tracing

Raymond helps COVID patients identify who they have been with and where they have been so others can be notified that they may have contracted the virus too.   She said most people are cooperative when she works with them.  

She said Union County is not always so lucky when they follow up with patients as part of their work in tracing.   Raymond said, sometimes folks do not answer their phones for the county because they do not recognize the number and think it is telemarketer.

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