We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, as well as another season in the midst of a pandemic. The new COVID-19 variants seem to be making its way through the country, with Mercer County showing an increase in cases. The Henry J. Austin Health Center (HJAHC) continues to help protect against and inform residents of this virus. According to Covid Act Now, as of December 27th Mercer County is classified in the High-Risk Level, with 99.4 daily new cases per 100,000. With 81% of the population vaccinated, cases are higher amongst those unvaccinated. However, vaccinated individuals are not out of the woods and are susceptible to the virus as well. We’ve also learned that the effectiveness of the vaccines can wane over time, which is why the call for booster shots was made. Dr. Rachel Evans, the Chief Medical Officer at HJAHC, says, “As with all vaccines, the immunity built by our COVID-19 vaccines starts to wane over time. We now have good data to tell us how long the immunity for specific vaccines lasts, which allows us to make solid recommendations for boosters to maintain our protection against COVID-19 infection.” A diagram from New Jersey Department of Health displays the effectiveness of the vaccines after a six-month period, most notably noting that Johnsons & Johnsons is at a 13% decrease in effectiveness, with Moderna at 58% and Pfizer at 43.3%. HJAHC urges those vaccinated to get the booster shot and to wear masks indoors to increase their protection. To schedule your booster shot, visit henryjaustin.org.
There’s still time to make your voice heard regarding the Land Development Ordinance (LDO). The LDO is an impactful update for Trenton land use and development that will impact Trentonians for years to come outlined in the Trenton250 masterplan. The Trenton250 is Trenton’s long-range comprehensive master plan that will guide the city from now to the 250th Anniversary of its incorporation in 2042. The community-driven vision will make Trenton an innovative, urban mecca with bustling arts and businesses. Leave your questions, comments and concerns on Trenton Updated Land Development Ordinance.
The Mayor wants to finish the year strong! Mayor W. Reed Gusciora recently announced his administration’s request for a special City Council meeting this Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. This meeting will discuss critical and time sensitive legislation and financial obligations before the end of the year. Last week’s meetings were cancelled by the City Council. "Basic good governance requires us to get together one last time before the year ends and ensure that the City of Trenton meets its financial obligations," said Mayor Gusciora.
The following proposed items will be discussed during the meeting:
· Department of Finance obligations to pay bills and City employees in January 2022.
· A resolution supporting an application to operate a Cannabis manufacturing facility in Trenton.
· Ordinances that would help the City deliver essential mental health services by hiring a clinical psychologist and mental health worker.
· Resolution awarding a contract to establish a Trenton “Street Team,” which uses outreach workers to intervene in historic and ongoing neighborhood conflicts, prevent retaliation, and provide victim services.
"Additional resolutions that would help us address many of the factors that lead to violence and other public safety issues have also been included so we can start a comprehensive response as early as possible in 2022,” further explains the Mayor.
More awareness of Fentanyl-related deaths is being brought to the forefront to analyze and better understand circumstances surrounding fatal overdoses. Thankfully, more than 30 agencies, ranging from law enforcement to addiction services, have come together to form The Mercer County Overdose Fatality Review Team (OFRT). The OFRT, along with the Trenton Health Team and the Mercer County Department of Human Services, have employed a new strategy targeting preventing drug-related overdose deaths in the community. With the support of the New Jersey Department of Health, OFRT provided recommendations based on their work analyzing circumstances surrounding fatal overdoses, which includes routine Fentanyl testing in emergency departments. Focusing on problem solving instead of finger pointing, the review aims to address the overdose crisis in New Jersey. “By studying patterns of overdose in the community, OFRT members can identify gaps in the system of care and make recommendations to help save lives,” said THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson. “Such collaboration is a nationally recognized model for addressing overdose fatalities.”
OFRT team reviewed 26 deaths during its first year and issued the following recommendations:
· Engage wider participation from local emergency departments, emergency medical services and jail/prison system to better understand workflows and processes
· Explore a funding source to support targeted, tiered harm reduction outreach, using geospatial analysis of overdoses in Mercer County.
· Collaborate with community organizations located in targeted outreach locations to support outreach at street level, motels and known active use areas
· Consider creating a mobile harm reduction unit for targeted harm reduction that offers additional social service support and referrals to treatment
· Research sustainability and feasibility of placing naloxone in rooms of known motels where overdoses have occurred
· Establish an advocacy subcommittee to promote changes in policies and process to better meet community needs; such as Naloxone administration by all emergency medical services, Fentanyl testing in emergency departments, acceptance of Medicaid patients at private treatment facilities and increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for treatment.
The data collected will help pinpoint fatal overdose patterns in order to fight the opioid crisis.