PATERSON, N.J. —  New Jersey and New York leaders have been on edge for weeks as they continue to monitor the winter surge of COVID-19, driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant.

Nationwide numbers have yet to peak, but in the Northeast, the number of new cases is beginning to decline. In New York, the seven-day average of new cases was down nearly 50% from just a week before. Hospitalizations were down more than 20%. In New Jersey, the daily case count dropped to less than one-third of what was seen earlier in January. Hospitalizations in the Garden State have also steadily ticked down. 

On Sunday, Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh joined PIX on Politics host Ayana Harry, who was filling in for Dan Mannarino, to talk about the city’s success in fighting the pandemic. Paterson has reported 100% of adults in the city have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Early on, what we realized was that there were individuals who were hesitant … especially among African American men,” Sayegh said. “So we recruited African American men of influence in our city … and they helped us get the word out.”

However, Sayegh said that was only one facet of a layered approach to vaccinations. The city also partnered with faith-based organizations to create pop-up vaccination sites, bringing COVID vaccines right to the people.

“But I feel like we really made significant progress when we repurposed our HIV testing mobile unit and made it a COVID-19 testing unit/vaccination unit six days a week in almost every neighborhood,” he said. “We were bringing it to people who were hard to reach; if they weren’t coming to us for the vaccine, we were going to them.”

Watch the video above for the full interview.