Vernon Mayor Howard Burrell urged further caution after a period when local residents gained access to tests for COVID-19.
There is still no testing site in Sussex County. But starting on April 14, Sussex County residents were apportioned slots at a testing site in Randolph, which is located in Morris County.
"After eight days of Sussex County residents being able to get tested at the Morris County COVID-19 testing site, we have seen the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in our county go from 563 to 797, an increase of 234; and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in our town go from 55 to 91, an increase of 36," Burrell said in a report on April 24. "It seems clear to me that the more testing that’s done, the more confirmed COVID-19 cases that will be revealed."
He said the Sussex County health department told mayors they were putting together an agreement with a health care facility in the county to give residents closer and easier access to testing.
"If/when that comes about, there is a great likelihood that Sussex County’s and Vernon Township’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases will see another increase," he said.
Even with the increased number of cases, Burrell said, Vernon still has just 11 percent of the total cases in Sussex County, even though Vernon has 17 percent of the county’s population.
The urge to re-open
Burrell said social distancing measures are working to flatten the curve of new cases of COVID-19, and should continue. Contract tracing, in which people who may have had contact with others who have tested positive for COVID-19, is also needed before the economy can re-open, he said.
"My Vernon family, it’s understandable that we all want to put an end to not only the infectious pain and death that this insidious coronavirus is inflecting on our society, but also the side effect of the economic decline that we have seen, and continue to see," he said. "However, as our nation begins to think about and implement steps to 'reopen' our economy, I am mindful of our nation’s Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) statement that we can’t really have a sufficient understanding of the full extent to which this virus has infected our nation until we test a much larger percent of our nation’s population."
He said "this awful coronavirus has forced us to restrain our natural human instincts to be with each other, to touch each other, and hug each other as a means of comfort and compassion.
"And therefore, because for me, 'Vernon Cares' is not simply a slogan, I end my update with a big virtual Vernon hug of compassion for our Councilwoman Kelly Weller and her two daughters, who unexpectedly lost their husband and father this week.
"And because for me, 'Vernon Strong' is not simply some catchy phrase, I want Kelly and her daughters to know, that their Vernon Family is here and available to 'lift them up' in this time of sadness.
"Keep the faith!"
Editor's note: Please see page 19 for the obituary of Robert Wayne Weller Jr.