MONTGOMERY, NJ - The township Health Department has confirmed 37 more cases of COVID-19 at the Carrier Clinic behavioral health facility n the Belle Mead section, in addition to the 53 cases affecting both staff and patients reported 10 days ago.

The 90 cases are split between two units of the facility, according to Montgomery Health Officer Stephanie D. Carey. In response, state inspectors are working with the clinic; Hackensack Meridian, owner of the clinic, has sent additional infection control specialists, she added.

Carey describes the current situation as “exponential, community spread, with most cases not having a clear exposure.”

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Because it is difficult to trace positive cases to certain exposures, it becomes even more important for the public to minimize interactions outside of their immediate households, and to wear masks and social distance when doing necessary errands, according to the health officer.

The original outbreak occurred in a unit where 30 staff and 23 patients tested positive for the virus.

Carrier Clinic is a specialized behavioral health facility on a 100-acre campus in the foothills of the Sourland Mountain.

Immediately following discovery of the first outbreak, the health care organization implemented universal testing of all staff after discovering a handful of cases earlier in ther week, uncovering many more cases among asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.

“This outbreak is worrisome, in a vulnerable population that has difficulty social distancing, but it is not surprising, as cases rates are growing exponentially across New Jersey,"  Carey said earlier. "The second wave is upon us and we all have to do everything in our power to keep masking, keep distancing, and keep out of large gatherings.”

Contact with local residents and Carrier staff is infrequent. The facility draws staff and patients from a wide geographic area, making it vulnerable to the second wave of infection across New Jersey and the nation.

Hackensack Meridian has shut down the impacted units and relocated those patients to other locations with medical isolation facilities. Affected staff are isolating in their homes.