SOUTH ORANGE/MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Today South Orange passed a marker it did not want to see — seven new cases of COVID-19 identified in residents since yesterday put the Village at 503 cases total during the pandemic. 

Maplewood’s cumulative case load stands at 830 as of yesterday, Jan. 13. Essex County today reported a total of 543,974 cases and 18,070 deaths.

These numbers were reported as Gov. Murphy has opened vaccination appointments to people 65 years and older and those between the ages of 16-64 with medical conditions (defined by the Center for Disease Control) that increase the risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

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One of the risk factors that would make a person eligible for a vaccine is being a smoker. On social media, some residents debated the wisdom of smokers being “ahead in the line” to register for the vaccine in Phase 1B before local teachers, who have just returned to the classroom although they are yet to be allowed to be inoculated.

TAPinto SOMA asked Maplewood Health Officer Candice Davenport for her thoughts on the subject. “It appears that NJDOH (New Jersey Department of Health) and CDC are moving away from using occupations for essential workers as a criteria for eligibility and basing it more on age and health conditions that make you more vulnerable,” Davenport said.

“That being said, those who smoke are at a higher risk for inflammation and blood clots, that can cause stroke and other cardiovascular issues. COVID unfortunately increases that risk even higher for those who smoke because COVID can also cause inflammation and blood clotting so those who smoke are at a higher risk of complications and hospitalization if they were infected with COVID.”

But Davenport wants to convey that the risk is lessened by quitting smoking. “I’ll take the opportunity here to say that from a public health perspective we are advising people to look for ways to stop smoking and talk to their healthcare provider about smoking cessation programs and hotlines to assist with smoking cessation.” She offered as a resource.


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TAPinto SOMA is a free online newspaper serving the Townships of Maplewood and South Orange Village with no paywall. TAPinto SOMA is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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