Omicron Now Dominant Variant; Montclair to Consider Indoor Mask Mandate

Montclair, NJ – It’s official — the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus is now accounting for 73.2% of new Covid-19 cases in the United States last week, making it the dominant variant, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

New Jersey reported 6,505 new positive PCR tests Monday and Governor Phil Murphy urged anyone — six months out from their last dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, or two months for J&J – to go get a booster before Christmas to give yourself that protection. Unlike New York’s governor, Murphy has yet to implement a statewide indoor mask mandate.

Cases are already on the rise in Montclair. Earlier this month, Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis discussed with his council colleagues the possibility of implementing an indoor mask mandate in Montclair.

“Tomorrow night we will vote on a Resolution that would require masks be worn while indoors in public places regardless of vaccination status, effective immediately for the next 60 days,” says Yacobellis.

The CDC recommends mask-wearing indoors in public places if you are in an area designated as having substantial or high transmission. The CDC classifies Essex County, Jersey as of Dec. 20th 2021 as an area with high community transmission with a case rate per 100k of 522.42 and a % positivity of 10.61%.

“This decision does not come lightly, but I feel that the simple act of putting on a mask while one is indoors in a public place is the least we can do to ensure we are protecting our most vulnerable residents,” says Yacobellis. “We simply do not know enough about the Omicron variant and the efficacy of our existing vaccines and it is better to be safe than sorry.”

“I hope that ultimately this decision will save lives and that Montclair will be seen as a safe place to come to shop, dine or see a show, knowing that we take both the virus and safety very seriously,” he adds.

New Jersey’s Executive Order Number 242 Section 18 permits municipalities and counties to “impose additional restrictions, in response to COVID-19, regarding mask requirements for individuals in indoor public spaces.”

Get Tested, Get Vaccinated

There are 100 free and public COVID-19 testing sites throughout the state. To find a testing site near you, visit covid19.nj.gov/freetest. Essex County residents can go to www.essexcovid.org for vaccination and testing appointments.

The NJ Department of Health and Vault Medical Services have partnered to offer a free, at-home COVID-19 saliva test kit that is available to every New Jerseyan who thinks they need a test – even if you don’t have symptoms.

The kit will be shipped through UPS with next-day delivery. Once received, you will connect over Zoom with a Vault healthcare professional who will walk you through the test and answer your questions.

When complete, the test can be sent back in a prepaid package via UPS next-day shipping. You will receive your test results 24 to 48 hours after your sample arrives at the lab.

In addition, in-person testing is available at locations across the state, including free testing. Learn more about COVID-19 testing in New Jersey at covid19.nj.gov/testing.

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