Dr. Thomas McCarrick, the chief medical officer of Verona-based Vanguard Medical Group, was one of the featured speakers on Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s (D-NJ11) telephone town hall Wednesday, and he urged listeners to not get complacent about COVID-19 even as cases wane in our area.
“In the past seven days, we’ve only actually had three positive cases,” McCarrick said of COVID-19, noting that Tuesday was the first day in 16 months that New Jersey has recorded no deaths from the virus. “This is certainly wonderful news. But there is a risk, the risk that we give into our fatigue with dealing with this pandemic, or that we become complacent and that we as a result we don’t prepare for this fall.”
McCarrick voiced concern about the spread of the so-called delta variant of COVID-19, which he said was 50% more contagious than the original virus, and the still large pool of unvaccinated people. While state data indicate that 72% of Verona residents age 18 or older have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, and 67% are fully vaccinated, vaccinations lag in Essex County’s poorer towns and elsewhere in the state. Only 39% of Irvington’s residents have had one dose and only 32% are fully vaccinated.
Vanguard has given out over 15,000 doses of COVID vaccines, McCarrick said, including over 350 of the practice’s homebound patients. Cold and flu season will also test health conditions, he added.
“As a family doctor, I can’t help but give you suggestions,” McCarrick said. “So let’s work to get everyone vaccinated, let’s work on the hesitancy. I think everyone should try to get flu shots as the congresswoman mentioned and let’s see how much we can take out of the mix by getting as many folks vaccinated for flu as well as COVID.” McCarrick said that people also still need to have access to testing to help determine, when they get sick in the fall, whether they are suffering from a cold, COVID or the flu.
The town hall was scheduled to discuss pandemic recovery efforts, including the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan and infrastructure package and Sherrill fielded questions on all of these topics. You can listen to the full recording below.