ROXBURY, NJ - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Roxbury increased by 241 since Nov. 10, Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo said today, but he did not reveal whether this "very serious spike" in infections has led to a similar uptick in deaths.

DeFillippo made his remarks at the outset of the bi-monthly meeting of the township Mayor and Council, conducted virtually via Zoom audio conferencing. After expressing hope that those listening to the meeting had pleasant and safe Thanksgiving holidays, the mayor turned to the COVID-19 numbers.

"Since our last council meeting on Nov.10, the number of confirmed COVID cases in Roxbury has jumped from 485 to 726 – a staggering 241 new cases," he said. "Just overnight, the number of reported cases jumped by another 17; that is 17 members of our community who contracted COVID-19. We have never before experienced increases at this rate."

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The mayor did not dive deeper into the statistics. For example, he did not discuss deaths or whether the increased case numbers could be attributed to increased COVID-19 testing.

In an email, DeFillippo said he did not have the death figures. "I’m told they are hard to get because we would not necessarily hear about them and the state doesn’t make that information easily available," DeFillippo wrote.

During the meeting, the mayor said he was alarmed by the latest case numbers. "The increase is alarming," he said, adding that township officials "understand the frustration" of some residents who are upset about the related cancelation of holiday events.

"While that frustration is understandable, the cold, hard facts are that the second wave of the virus has hit Roxbury and we must take the necessary precautions to keep our residents safe – even if that means canceling events that would have marked the holiday season," DeFillippo said.

'At the Point of the Spear'

He took the opportunity to praise Roxbury Public Health Nurse Jim Craig who "has been at the center of the fight against COVID-19" in the township.

"He knows how contagious COVID is because he has seen how contagious COVID is right here in Roxbury," said the mayor. "He has visited families where one person infected the entire household. He has been in an assisted care facility where COVID spreads like wildfire and shows no mercy, and he has had to report as part of his job the numerous deaths that have occurred in our town."

DeFillippo said Roxbury residents owe Craig "a tremendous debt of gratitude for being the point of the spear in the fight against COVID in Roxbury, but also because we cannot let his efforts and the efforts of our other health care heroes be in vain."

During the meeting's public sessions, several people took issue with the township's handling of the COVID-19 situation, asserting they - and state officials - are exaggerating the risks of the virus and causing more harm than good with their closure orders.

"Once again, I'm trying to find out; what's the science behind this decision?" asked Catrina Albo of Succasunna. "Forget the governor's science because that doesn't exist. His positivity-rate magic numbers aren't based on science."

Her husband, Louis Albo, took issue with DeFillippo's request that people donate food to Roxbury Social Services. "I feel you guys are really forcing the issue with all this stuff and you ask for donations where nobody can really give anything due to not being able to work," he said. 

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