WAYNE, NJ – Mayor Chris Vergano posted a COVID-19 update video on the Township website for the month of July. During the update, he provided the breakdown of positive cases and deaths during the past month. He also gave an update on the township on a variety of subjects.

He also used the time to publicly respond to comments made by Dawn Kumar, a Wayne Board of Education member who had criticized the Mayor publicly at the July 16 Town Council Meeting.

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The July COVID Numbers

According to the Mayor, there was a total of 74 positive COVID cases for Wayne residents in the month of July. This is 2.38 new positive cases per day on average. The Average age for these cases is 46.06.  He mentioned that 14 Wayne residents were reported to have died due to complications from COVID in the month of July.  The average age of these fourteen people is 82 with a range of 52 – 92 years old.

Vergano further broke down the total township numbers into those who were living in one of the twelve nursing homes in Wayne and those who were not.

Of all of Wayne’s positive cases, 73.5% were people who lived in nursing homes. Those that did not live in nursing homes were 26.5% of cases.

For Wayne residents that have passed away due to COVID, 83.3% lived in nursing homes, and 16.7% did not.

Vergano said that a total of 7,097 have tested negative.

“Our numbers have been low,” he said. “But we’re not done with this pandemic. I ask you to do the following: Please wash your hands. Please wear a mask when you can’t be six feet away from somebody. Please check on your neighbors and relatives, especially in this extreme heat. If you're out and about, wear mask. If you are in a retail setting, masks must be worn by you and by the person working behind the counter.”

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Getting Tested for COVID-19

The Mayor mentioned several ways that one could get tested for COVID-19. “The first and easiest way is the Passaic County CARES COVID-19 at home testing,” he said. “This is a program run by the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and it's very easy to do. I actually did it myself.” 

To get an at-home test, follow this link. You will be mailed a test kit, and schedule a tele-medicine visit for a professional to supervise your collection and answer any questions you have.

“My results came back two days later,” said Vergano. “Yes, they were negative.”

The second way the Mayor mentioned to get tested was to go to one of the Passaic County Mobile Testing Sites.  The schedule for mobile testing is as follows:

• Wednesday, August 5 at Park & Ride / Library | 30 Cannici Drive, Ringwood
• Friday, August 7 at Passaic Valley High School | 100 E Main Street, Little Falls
• Wednesday, August 12 at Planning/Senior Services Offices | 930 Riverview Drive, Totowa
• Friday, August 14 at School No. 25 | 287 Trenton Ave, Paterson

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The 2020 Census

“if you have not completed your census, it's very important.” He said. “As of today, 73.5% of our households have completed the census. So, we’re doing extremely well. But, we would appreciate it if you completed your census as soon as possible.”

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Outdoor Dining

Mayor Vergano listed all the restaurants in Wayne who have permits for outdoor dining. You can find that list here.  He then said: “We ask that if you're going to go out to eat, please participate in these Wayne businesses. It's very important that we keep them going.”

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Summer Concert Series

“The Township has three summer concert series still remaining,” he said.

  • Wednesday, August 5 will feature Country Comfort
  • Tuesday, August 11 will have The Kootz
  • Wensdeay August 26 will be Jersey Sound

“By the way ,they've been fantastic,” said Vergano. “They’re outside. Social distancing is maintained. You must bring your own chairs. And, we ask you to bring a nonperishable food item for the Wayne interfaith network food bank.”

The shows begin at 7pm and usually go till 9pm.

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New Citizens Self-Service Portal

The township has recently updated their website, adding a ‘Self-service portal’ so that citizens can fill out applications for permits without having to go to Town Hall. You can find this by following this link.

“It's very easy,” he said. “You can go online now for certain items and apply. Right now, the following applications are currently available for online submission.”

  • Real Estate CCO (A Certificate of Continued Occupancy for any change in ownership or tenant in a one- or two-family home).
  • Tree Removal Permit
  • Garage Sale Permit
  • Flea Market Permit

“You just go there and register, set up an account and then download your documents and apply for everything online,” he said. “Hopefully that'll make life easier in dealing with Wayne Township.”

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Events

Vergano announced that the Memorial Day Parade that had been rescheduled to Labor Day has now been officially canceled.  He also reiterated that Wayne Day was also canceled.

A second Confidential Shredding Event has been scheduled for September 12 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the municipal parking lot.

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Kudos to Passaic County

“I want to take a moment and thank Passaic County,” said Vergano. “Especially the Director, Tony De Nova. He's done a fantastic job with COVID-19. The County stepped up right away, and I usually don't say a lot of nice things about the County, but I will tell you I couldn't be more impressed with their response and all the money that they are accepting from the federal government and passing down to local communities. So, to the County Board of freeholders, I say: thank you.”

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Defending the Wayne Police Department

“At July's Council Meeting, a member of the Board of Education said the following. And I quote: ‘Finally, I've seen the Wayne PD inside Costco not wearing a mask or wearing them improperly,’ Kumar added before stating that mask-wearing decreases the spread of Coronavirus. ‘These examples show a Mayor who doesn't care about public health despite quoting COVID-19 death totals, and a Police Department who is not serving and protecting the community.’ End quote.”

Vergano was referring to the remarks BOE Member Dawn Kumar made.

“And I will tell you, I'm an elected official for 13 years,” he went on. “As your mayor, if you want to make a comment about me, that's fine. I have no problem with that. But for you to come after the Police Department, that's a different story.

I was extremely disappointed that a member of the Board of Education would publicly condemn and criticize our police department's response during the COVID-19 pandemic. I could not be prouder of the work ethic of the 114 men and women of our Police Department under the direction of our Chief of Police Jack McNiff. Our dedicated officers were, and still are working day and night to protect this community; risking their own lives during the pandemic.

To quote Chief Jack McNiff, since March 1, 2020, Wayne police officers have responded to approximately 10,000 COVID-19 related calls for service. Responding to these calls required a total of 11,000 Wayne police resources, putting all of our 114 officers at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 on multiple occasions.

They have heroically performed first aid and CPR on many COVID-19 patients who live in our Township - some of whom were our own police family members. This required many of these officers to undergo quarantine and subsequently put their children, spouses and families at risk.

Without hesitation, these officers performed their sworn duties regardless of the health implications it would have on themselves and their own families. They never hesitated, because they were properly trained and equipped to do the job all of our residents deserve and should expect.

When the entire tristate area was told to shut down, the Wayne Police Department showed up. During the pandemic, many police officers actually contacted COVID-19 and several have still not returned to work from the long-term effects of this disease.

They were wearing masks, gowns and other PPE equipment on hundreds of calls including multiple ambulance requests, performing CPR with necessary, never turning down a request for help.

They should be honored for all their work performed during this crisis and not criticized by someone with zero knowledge of police protocol during a pandemic.

I am not sure what would possess a member of the Board of Education, or one speaking as a private citizen (Mrs. Kumar) to say, and I quote: ‘The Police Department was not serving and protecting the community during COVID-19.’ I can report to you, as your Mayor, that her statements were totally false. Her comments, attacking the Wayne Police Department are disgraceful as an elected official, and I believe that she owes the dedicated men and women of the Police Department an apology.”

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Kumar’s Response

TAPinto reached out to Dawn Kumar, and she sent the following as a response to the Mayor’s comments:

“I would like to make clear, as I did at the town council meeting, that I am speaking as a private citizen. As a private citizen, I have a first amendment right to speak in public and share concerns with elected officials.

Regarding my comments towards the police, I do support them and think that the vast majority do a great job for our community. However, that does not mean they, or any public servant, is above criticism. The Chief even admitted that no one is perfect. I do apologize to anyone who may have been offended by my comments.

The statement I made at the town council meeting was not a political one. Mask wearing and social distancing are science-based, common sense measures to help contain the spread of COVID19. I want nothing more than the police to remain safe on the job, which is why I was asking for the Mayor to show leadership. Following those guidelines will show the police they are supported, so when they need to ask someone to put their mask on or break up a large gathering, they are already setting that example. Ultimately, I am worried as many citizens are for the public health of our community and wish that we may come together for the common good on this topic. Instead of attacking me for my comments, I would appreciate hearing the Mayor's stance on mask wearing and social distancing and whether or not he will set a better example going forward.”

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