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Princeton COVID-19 Update
from Mayor Freda and Princeton Council

Thursday, January 7, 2021
A Message from Mayor Mark Freda
The newsletter is back! Continuing this newsletter is very important to both the Council and myself. It provides a way for us to share information with many people. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to sign up to receive this through the town website.

Congratulations to Leticia Fraga and David Cohen on being sworn in to serve their second term as Councilmembers. And to Leticia for being elected as Council President for 2021.

Happy new year to all. Hoping it is a safe and successful year for all of us. All your elected officials look forward to serving you this year.
Vaccine Distribution Information
The information and updates on vaccine distribution change frequently, and we will try to keep the most up to date information in this newsletter as we can. The information below is accurate as of early morning today. We also post updates on the town website.

The Princeton Health Department is working closely with other health departments in Mercer County, the Mercer County Health Officer’s Association and the State of New Jersey Department of Health to coordinate the local vaccine rollout. Here are some recent questions that we have been asked, answered here for you:

  • Should we sign up at the state and local portals? At this point in time, yes. We are receiving hundreds of calls / e-mails each day about the 1B group, predominantly those in their 80’s and 90’s that were requesting a local option, which is the genesis for creating a local portal. They should also still complete the State portal for redundancy. A few county health departments have done the same thing.
  • Should we sign up locally if we are NOT 1B? Yes, there is a spot for that as well on our portal. I believe the State has this as well.
  • Can you explain why people who aren’t residents can sign up through the Princeton portal? How do we keep people from gaming the system and signing up in various neighboring towns? Because the vaccine is provided by the Federal Government, no jurisdictional closure can be provided for vaccines….outside of the Phase groups.
  • Is there a timeline for the various groups? Not exactly. Currently 400,000 out of the ~650,000 1A eligible NJ residents have received their first doses. We probably are weeks away from 1B (75 YO and above, essential workers). It appears that some Healthcare systems are preparing to open their vaccine locations for larger groups. This will help the start of the 1B Phase. 
  • Where can we expect to get the vaccine locally? We (Princeton) are running 1A Phase out of PSRC since initial doses are limited. Other local locations can be found here.
  • Will Mercer County open a site? Mercer County is expected to open a site for the continuation of PHASE 1A to get the vaccine on January 28 and 29 at Mercer County Community College.
  • Can you remind me what comes after the current 1A Phase? After the current 1A phase we move to the 1B Phase (over 75 and frontline essential workers). After the 1B Phase we will move into the 1C Phase (other essential workers, adults 65 and over, people 16 - 64 with medical conditions that increase the risk for severe COVID-19)
  • What was the change to the 1A Phase just announced? Police officers and firefighters have been moved from the 1B Phase to the 1A Phase. 1A includes healthcare workers, long term care facility resident and EMS staff.

After these phases are complete, the general public will be eligible for vaccination.
More information, including how to register for vaccination, will be released via multiple platforms, including this newsletter, when available.
Message from Council Reorg
2020 - The Year in Review

Throughout this extraordinarily challenging year, the Mayor, Council and staff have worked together with our local institutions and our residents to mitigate the impact of this year’s difficulties. Council members have worked productively and collaboratively for the betterment of our community and have enhanced the bonds of trust and respect among one another and with members of the community. This solid foundation forged in the trenches of 2020 makes us optimistic for success in 2020 and beyond.   

Princeton as a municipality is, fortunately, well positioned to handle the economic challenges of the pandemic; our tax base is stable and, due in part to disciplined financial management over many years, we have a AAA credit rating, allowing us to borrow money at very favorable interest rates when needed. Sound financial management has also allowed us to absorb short-term revenue shortfalls from our surplus if needed, so we are starting 2021 in an excellent financial position.

With the introduction of vaccines at the end of 2020, we hope that the end of the COVID pandemic is now in sight, although a long, tough winter awaits. We’ve set up the first local vaccination clinics, with more to come this year and we believe that we are ready. We would also like to recognize the work of so many municipal staff who went above and beyond what could have been expected, found new and creative ways to do their jobs, and continued to provide all the myriad services essential to our residents, schools and businesses.  

As we emerge from this crisis, we will continue to draw upon the lessons of COVID. We will continue the fight for racial justice, and we will redouble our efforts to both combat and prepare for the impacts of climate change, always keeping environmental justice in mind; rethink the use of our downtown streets and how to make them safe and attractive places for all people and not just cars; strengthen the ties of community among all Princetonians and hold onto the truth that, even after the pandemic is over, we are all in this together. Read More
 
Princeton University and COVID-19 Related Questions
A number of people have also asked questions related to Princeton University's plans for the return of their students this month. The University provides information about this on their own website; but here is some general information.

While the students do not have to have a COVID test prior to returning they will all be tested upon their arrival and will quarantine right away. Students living off campus are expected to test on the day they arrive in the area.

The method for University students to get tested is part of their move-in process. They make an appointment to move-in and the COVID test is the start of their move-in process. The students will also be tested on Day 3 and Day 5. After their arrival quarantine they will be tested twice a week.

The University has two dormitories, with the capacity for 100 students at a time, to be used to house students that test positive for COVID-19. There are other university facilities that can be used if additional space is needed.

Contact tracing is critical, and clearly the town Health Department cannot provide contact tracing for the University population. The University has a team of contact tracers who will do this for University students, faculty and staff that test positive. The University has made it very clear that this information will of course be shared with the town Health Department, which they are required to do anyway.

Our Health Officer has regular calls with University representatives to discuss COVID related topics and concerns.
NJ State Update
The deadline for the Senior Freeze property tax relief program is extended through February 1, 2021.

The Senior Freeze program is designed to "freeze" the burden of increasing real estate taxes for qualified applicants by establishing a base year of eligibility and comparing that base with any subsequent year. The difference is then refunded by the State annually. In order to qualify for the reimbursement, taxpayers must meet all the eligibility requirements for each year from the base year through the current application year. Eligibility must be continuous otherwise a new base year must be established. Learn more
Mental Health Resources: Help is Available
Help is available for those feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, those suffering from substance abuse, and victims of domestic violence. Trinity Counseling ServiceCorner House Behavioral HealthNAMI Mercer (National Alliance on Mental Illness)WomanspaceCrisis Text LineMental Health Association of New Jersey. You are not alone. More info.
Visit PrincetonCovid.org
For more information on COVID-19, including testing sites, assistance programs, and opportunities for volunteering, visit PrincetonCovid.org, a community collaboration of Princeton Public Library, the Municipality of Princeton, and Princeton Public Schools.
Upcoming Meetings and Events
Planning Board, Jan 7, 7:00 PM More info
Flood & Stormwater Commission, Jan 8, 10:00 AM More info
Council Retreat, Jan 9, 9:00 AM More info
Sustainable Princeton's Waste Collection Event, Jan 9, 9:00 AM More info
Council Agenda Meeting, Jan 12, 11:00 AM More info
Corner House Board, Jan 13, 6:00 PM More info
SPRAB Meeting, Jan 13, 7:30 PM More info


**Christmas Tree & brush collection continues through January 29th. Have items at the curb by 7am Monday mornings (Tuesday Jan. 19 as Monday Jan. 18 is a holiday)**

COVID-19 Case Data Status Report
Total Positive Cases: 522
Total Hospitalized: 31
Active Positive Cases: 48

34 Positive Cases in Past 7 Days
Highest 7-day total - 39 (12/12-12/18)
58 Cases in Past 14 Days
Highest 14 day total - 66 (12/8-12/21)
Isolation Completed: 454
Negative Test Results: 10314
Deaths: 18
Probable COVID Deaths: 13
Male: 245 Female: 277
Ages: <11: 27; 12 - 17: 24; 18 - 25: 70; 26-35: 65; 36-45: 79;
46-55: 76; 56-65: 63; 66-75: 25; 76-85: 33; > 86: 58
We Are All In This Together.
Mayor Mark Freda, Council President Leticia Fraga and Council members David Cohen, Dwaine Williamson, Eve Niedergang, Mia Sacks and Michelle Pirone Lambros

Municipality of Princeton | 609-924-4141| https://www.princetonnj.gov/