FLEMINGTON, NJ - A surge of COVID cases in Flemington Borough has officials and businesses retooling holiday celebrations.
Over the past two weeks, the borough has logged 45 new cases, bringing the total so far to 172 cases.
“We see the positivity rate increasing in the borough dramatically,” said Cpl. Brian McNalley, the borough’s Office of Emergency Management coordinator, during a Facebook live presentation Tuesday. “In the spring, we had 12 in one day. Now we’re seeing as many as 23 in one day.”
Mayor Betsy Driver said the health department is attributing the surge to people traveling and returning college students, who are coming home and infecting entire families.
As the numbers climb, so are hospital admissions, said McNalley.
“It is hitting our healthcare providers hard again,” he said.
Borough Hall has been closed to walk-in traffic, and this year’s rabies clinic, scheduled for Dec. 19, will be held in the borough’s parking lot rather than inside the firehouse to slow the virus’s spread.
In addition, the yearly Christmas tree lighting hosted by the Boy Scouts will be held as a private, in-person event, although it will be live streamed by the Flemington Community Partnership, said McNalley.
Other events, such as the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce’s holiday parade or the Thursday night light event held in the borough’s business district will occur but “it will be nothing like what we’ve ever seen before,” said Driver.
Both the chamber and Flemington Community Partnership are still working out details about how they’ll be making accommodations to those events, said McNalley.
Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy imposed new restrictions aimed at slowing COVID transmission, which is escalating across the state. Those measures include limiting outdoor gatherings to 150 people, down from 500; limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people; shutting down bar seating; and imposing a 10 p.m. curfew on indoor dining.
Driver encouraged residents to heed the new measures and limit the size of holiday gatherings, but added that police would not be actively enforcing the new measure.
“People will still gather, we need to be realistic,” she said. “Do your best to be safe and make good decisions, not only for your community but for yourself. We don’t want to see additional shutdowns. We’re depending on people making the right choices.”
Murphy has also let some municipal officials impose their own restrictions if the COVID numbers warrant it, which is not the case in Flemington, said Driver.
“As far as what we’re seeing in Hunterdon County and Flemington, there’s no reason to put additional restrictions in place,” said McNalley.
Driver said she has no information on any further measures the governor is considering, and that the borough’s reopening committee – comprised of council members Kim Tilly and Jeremy Long, as well as community and OEM members – have been meeting periodically to discuss ways to implement restrictions as painlessly as possible.
In addition, Driver said local businesses are eligible for up to a 70 percent discount on Personal Protective Equipment, thanks to a state program.
Information on how to access it is available at https://bit.ly/377yysG.
“We know a lot more and can plan,” said Driver.