Vernon Township Mayor’s Updated Statement on the Coronavirus

Posted: May 8, 2020

My Vernon Family, while only 35% of the year 2020 has expired, this has already developed into what we and history will label as an extremely challenging year. Already we find ourselves being forced to deal with issues and circumstances that we could not even have imaged when this year began.

The primary issues and circumstances that have influenced these first 129 days of this year is, of course, those related to the mysterious and dangerous COVID-19 virus. And I, therefore, believe that it’s appropriate and needed for me to take this opportunity to update you on several Sussex County and Vernon Township related COVID-19 matters:

  1. To date, a total of 3,654 or about 3% of Sussex County residents have been tested for this virus; of those tested, 2,631 or about 72% were found not to have the virus.
  2. Of the 1,023 Sussex County residents that did test positive for the virus, 520 or 51% were female, and 503 or 49% were male.
  3. Of those who tested positive for the virus, 39% of them were in the age group 50-69; 28% were in the age group 30-49; 23% were in the age group 70-90 and up; and the remaining 10% were in the age group of 3 months-29.
  4. A total of 738 or 72% of the 1,023 who tested positive for the virus, have recovered from the virus!
  5. Unfortunately, a total of 125 Sussex County residents have died from this virus. Most of those deaths—94 or 75%—have been of individuals who were residents of long term care facilities.
  6. To date, we in Vernon Township have had 115 confirmed COVID-19 cases (11% of Sussex County’s total cases); and 6 COVID-19 related deaths (5% of Sussex County’s total deaths).
  7. The Sussex County drive-thru COVID-19 testing site, located in the upper level parking area of Sussex County Community College in Newton, is expected to be open next week. Even though Sussex County will have its own COVID-19 testing site, residents of our county can still continue to get tested at the Morris County testing site, located at the County College of Morris in Randolph, if they so desire.

In the short-term, this coronavirus has not only infected and taken the lives of so many of our earthly brothers and sisters in our town, our county, our state, our nation and in the world, but it has also changed so many things about how all individuals on this planet live their daily lives. I believe that some of the current changes, as well as some of future changes that this virus will make necessary, will be a part of how we do things and how we live our daily lives for the long-term.

For many of us in Vernon Township and other parts of America, the scale of the coronavirus crisis calls to mind the impacts of 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis. Both of these were events that reshaped American society in lasting ways—from how we travel and buy homes, to the level of security and surveillance we’re accustomed to, and from how we view each other as individuals and groups.

I believe that this coronavirus crisis will impact us in similar, long-term ways.

Considering the fact that COVID-19 is a novel virus, that is, a virus that the world has never seen before, and, considering the fact that at this point in time we have neither immunity to or a vaccine for this novel virus, I seriously doubt that within the next several weeks or months (or if ever) we will be able to fully go back to “business as usual,” or to doing all things as we did them before this virus invaded our lives.

That being the case, we need to start the process of adjusting our minds, our attitudes, and our wills to the fact that there is a very real possibility that we will live the rest of our lives in a world where there is to some degree a new “normal.”

What I mean is that life for us in Vernon, in New Jersey, in America and in the rest of the world will be significantly different due to the fact that we will be forced to adjust and/or change how we socialize and work, how we worship and shop, as well as adjust and/or change a host of other behaviors, all in our ongoing attempts to keep the COVID-19 virus on the decline, and if possible, to prevent it from making a dramatic and devastating resurgent.

These adjustments and changes in the way we live our lives won’t all be easy, but we as Americans have a history of living through difficult times and making the adjustments and changes needed in order to survive and progress.

Unless you are of Native American heritage, most of us are the descendants of individuals who came to this country with little-of-nothing, or who were brought to this country in chains. They were also afraid, couldn’t speak the language, and had no clear answer or assurance as to what the future held for them. In spite of these uncertainties and challenges, they made the adjustments and changes needed to survive, to progress, and to make our nation the envy of the world.

We should never forget that we are the descendants of a strong group of people; we are Americans!

I don’t believe that problems and crises make us who we are; I believe that they revel who we are. This COVID-19 crisis will tell us all if we are really the individuals that we said/believed we were before this virus invaded our bodies and troubled our minds.

I believe we are a town that cares - - # VERNON CARES! And a group of people that’s strong—# VERNON STRONG!

We can do this!


Howard L. Burrell, Mayor