Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 21, 2021

Union County Achieves “Low” Community Transmission Rating for COVID-19

Union is the only county in New Jersey and the entire Northeast currently with low community transmission rating from CDC.

Union County, NJ – According to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Union County is the only county in New Jersey designated in the lowest tier for community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and also the only county in the entire northeastern quadrant of the U.S. to achieve the low transmission designation.

The CDC currently designates 2,656 counties in the U.S. as high, 361 for substantial, and 148 for moderate community transmission. Union County is one of only 52 counties nationwide rated low.

The low risk designation is based on a seven-day rolling average charted by the Centers for Disease Control.

“The low transmission designation is a remarkable achievement that validates all of the hard work and extra precautions we have taken since the beginning of the outbreak, including vigorous guidelines on wearing masks. However, the data can change from one day to the next, and Union County is not an island. The fact that so few other jurisdictions have achieved the low risk status demonstrates how important it is for everyone to step up and get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Vaccination is the only sure way to reduce the risk of death and long term health impacts from this devastating virus,” said Union County Commissioner Board Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

“Union County was hit hard at the beginning of the outbreak, but our residents rallied to protect themselves as soon as guidance became available on masks, social distance, testing, and vaccination. We want to thank all the volunteers and professional staff who have worked long hours to ensure that everyone has had access to tests and vaccines as soon as they are available, and of course the ultimate credit is due to every Union County resident who availed themselves of these life-saving resources,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, who is the Chairman of the Commissioner Board’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. “We also want to emphasize that many thousands of Union County residents cannot be vaccinated due to their age or medical condition. COVID-19 will continue to be a matter of life and death until all eligible residents step up and get vaccinated.”

“This has been an all hands on deck, collaborative effort with a shared philosophy of handling this public health outbreak with the utmost seriousness and dedication to public service, including a continued emphasis on wearing masks,” said Union County Manager Edward T. Oatman. “The new CDC rating is a credit to professional staff and volunteers who worked long hours to coordinate and deliver resources to the people of Union County, including Kean University, municipal governments and federal funding through the CARES Act, along with countless individuals, businesses, schools, and other entities that have engaged with our services and followed emergency health mandates issued by Governor Phil Murphy. Union County will continue to apply every available resource to coordinate and amplify these efforts. We encourage all residents to remain vigilant until the pandemic is declared at an end.”

Regardless of the new CDC designation, businesses and other entities may continue to exercise additional precautions such as masks and social distance. Many individuals may also choose to take extra precautions. Union County residents and visitors are reminded to be respectful of these additional measures aimed at protecting public health and safety.

Union County was the first county in New Jersey to set up a free mass testing site for COVID-19 at the outset of the pandemic, in March 2020. The mass testing site is located on the campus of Kean University in Union Township, and it has operated continuously since then. It currently operates on a walk-up basis.

Union County also worked with Kean University to establish a certified, on-campus laboratory for COVID-19 tests, to help shorten turnaround time for results.

When COVID-19 vaccines first gained FDA approval on an emergency basis, Union County was among the first counties to make free vaccines available at a mass vaccination site. That site, located at Kean University, began dispensing vaccines in January 2021.

Union County’s free testing and vaccination services include mobile units that visit local neighborhoods and vulnerable populations such as senior residences and homeless shelters. Home bound Union County residents can also apply for a free in-home vaccination service.

After the FDA issued permanent approval for COVID-19 vaccines, Union County became one of the first counties to mandate vaccination for all County employees, with the alternative requirement of regular weekly testing. The County continues to observe mask requirements and other precautions within public buildings.

In its capacity as administrator of federal COVID-19 response funds, Union County also implemented grant programs aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 during the first year of the outbreak, while promoting economic recovery and aiding those most at risk of financial impact.

The initial grant programs included aid to schools, libraries, non-profits, small businesses, restaurants, and families with special needs children. This year, the County also administered the Emergency Rental Assistance Program for tenants behind on rent or utilities due to the financial impact of the pandemic.

Union County continues to provide emergency food supplies to thousands of households each month.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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