Vernon Township Mayor’s Updated Statement on the Coronavirus

Posted: March 31, 2020

Vernon Family, this is one of my saddest COVID-19 updates yet, because I must report to you that Vernon Township has had its first COVID-19 related death—a 63-year-old male.

In addition, there was one other COVID-19 related death in our county—a 75-year-old male from Sparta.

This gives our county a total of five such deaths.

Vernon Township also had two more confirmed COVID-19 cases—a 49-year-old male and a 57-year-old female. This brings our total of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 16. While we have the largest population in the county (24,000 residents), at this time we don’t have the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county; that unfortunate title goes to our neighbor Sparta (20,000 residents) with 24 cases.

Let me use this opportunity to address four COVID-19 related questions that have come my way over the past few days:

1. Through the resources of the Vernon Police Department, I checked into the allegation of a Zumba class being conducted at the Minerals Sports Club in violation of the governor’s Executive Order No. 107. The Facebook post concerning this class is probably related to the instructor’s current live streaming of his Zumba class—the Minerals Sports Club is fully closed; there is no exercise or other normal activity being conducted at the Minerals Sports Club.

2. I have no authority at this time to prevent individuals, whose primary residences are in NY City or other locations, from coming to Vernon and living in second homes that they own. The governor has “urged” individuals to stay at their primary residences, and has specifically urged them not to leave their primary residences for the purpose of moving into those second homes/summer/temporary residences that they own in places like Vernon or in shore towns.

It’s unfortunate that many individuals have not heeded the governor’s urging. However, unless some law is changed or some legal directive is issued, I don’t have the authority to prevent individuals from occupying those part-time/temporary homes that they own in Vernon. Nor do I have the authority to remove individuals from their part-time/temporary homes.

3. For those of you who have questions concerning COVID-19 related symptoms, or about if/how/where you might get tested for the COVID-19 virus, you should contact the COVID-19 call center at 1-800-962-1253. The call center is open 24/7.

Individuals who need specific medical advice about COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider.

4. These are stressful times, and individuals who may need counseling, emotional support and/or information and assistance in getting behavioral health services for yourself and/or a loved one can call the toll-free, confidential COVID-19 help line at 1-866-202-HELP (4357).

This coronavirus crisis has brought a lot of unexpected things our way. These are not the best of times, and I don’t believe that things always happen for the best. However, I do believe that it’s possible to make the best out of those things that do happen.

Let’s make the best of this situation in which we find ourselves by continuing to take care of each other—#VernonCares; and by continuing to pull together to shortening this virus’ life by reducing/preventing its spread—#VernonStrong.

Howard L. Burrell, Mayor