Vernon Township Mayor’s Statement on the Coronavirus Crisis

Posted: March 13, 2020

The Vernon Township Mayor’s Office has been monitoring the latest information on the Coronavirus by the constant review of sites sponsored and managed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the New Jersey State Department of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other trusted sources.

We are also working close with our municipality’s Office of Emergency Management coordinator, Mr. Ken Clark; the Sussex County Health Department, the organization which provides health services to our municipality under a shared services agreement; and our county’s point of contact with the governor’s office on matters related to the Coronavirus.

As we proceed through this public health emergency, we will be managing this emergency through the following two sources:

  • Our municipal health service, i.e., the Sussex County Health Department, which under the public health emergency declared by Governor Murphy on March 9, is granted broad authority to manage public health emergencies, and is given an array of tools to curtail the spread of communicable diseases.
  • The authority that I and the town council have to cancel local government gatherings—I will be consulting with the town council on this issue.

While state laws give local governmental officials clear authority over decisions to cancel or postpone their own events, such authority over events hosted by others is not clear.

Efforts taken within the municipal town hall to protect both, visitors to the town hall and town hall employees, and to prevent/limit the possibility of the spread of the Coronavirus include:

  • Providing our employees with protective rubber gloves.
  • Ordering sufficient quantities of hand sanitizer that will enable us to be able to place sanitizers strategically in the main entrance and foyer of the town hall.

Given the strong recommendation from health professionals that we discourage large gatherings as a way of preventing/limiting the possible spread of the Coronavirus, effective at 4:00 p.m. Friday, March 13, 2020, we will be closing the township senior center until we receive additional information from appropriate public health officials that it is safe to reopen.

We have not forgotten our seniors who rely on the nutrition center meals that are served at the township senior center. For those individuals, we have made arrangements to ensure that meals will be provided at their homes during the period that the senior center is closed. During this period, if anyone knows of a senior that needs assistance, please call the non-emergency Vernon Township Police line at 973.764.6155.

We are also ordering our first responders and other appropriate employees protective masks.

As of noon on March 13, 2020 there has not yet been a single confirmed case of the Coronavirus in either Vernon Township or Sussex County.

Public health officials recommend that those residents who are experiencing respiratory symptoms should stay at home; those who are over the age of sixty with underlying health conditions avoid crowds and gatherings; and that to the extent possible, travel by air or by mass transit be avoided by this vulnerable population.

Public health officials also ask that we please remember to wash our hands rigorously for not less than twenty seconds with hand soap and warm water; to cover coughs and sneezes with our elbows; to disinfect door knobs, handles and frequently used surfaces; and to avoid touching our face, mouth, eyes and nose.

No other actions are prescribed at this time.

Vernon Township will adhere to any additional actions that are recommended by appropriate health officials, and the public will be advised of any changes or new recommendations that are issued as the situation develops.

During the almost 40 years that I have lived in Vernon, I have learned that we are a strong, proud and resilient town, and, by working together and looking out for each other, we have gotten through other difficult times, and we will get through this crisis also.

Howard L. Burrell, Mayor