‘We put our families at risk. We put ourselves at risk. And we continued because this city needs to rise’

Health workers at Paterson’s Division of Health gave themselves a much-merited standing ovation Thursday for hitting a numerical milestone in the war against COVID-19: Fully 90% of the city’s eligible adults have now been vaccinated — the highest such rate in New Jersey. With so many local health departments under siege — overworked, under-funded and burned out — this one took a brief break to celebrate.

What’s behind the achievement? It’s clear Paterson succeeded in part because it already had 50 contact tracers ready to go; and team members deliberately diversified their skills. Contact tracer Joia Jenkins noted, “Everybody cross-trained. Nobody did just their job… We did what we had to do. And I’m proud of us.”

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