Increasing Township Covid-19 Infections Spur Mayor To Re-Think In-Person Meetings

Mayor Phil Kramer said at the July 20 Open Space Advisory Committee meeting that he is seriously considering calling the Township Council together to reverse its decision to return to in-person meetings.

A Township Council resolution to return to in-person meetings in August is not even a week old, and Mayor Phil Kramer is already re-thinking it.

Kramer told members of the township’s Open Space Advisory Committee that he would make a decision by July 23 on whether to call for a special July 27 Council meeting to revisit the issue.

Kramer’s concern is based on the slowly but steadily rising number of Covid-19 infections among township residents. A total of 33 township residents tested positive for the virus between July 13 and 20, according to the township Office of Emergency Management.

Kramer, who is a physician and has taken a conservative stand over the course of the pandemic, said at the meeting that the rising number of positive test results and the concomitant rise in the township’s transmission rate have given him pause.

“I’m very strongly considering calling an emergency meeting of Council to reverse ourselves” on the in-person resolution, he said.

The mayor noted that the day after the Council made the vote, seven new positive test results were reported.

Township Councilman Ted Chase, the Council’s liaison to the Open Space committee, said that an average of four new infections a day have been reported since the Council took its vote.

“We now have a daily average greater than it was last year at this time,” Kramer said. He said that earlier this month, the infection average was .4 cases a day.

“The numbers are climbing,” Kramer said. “We’ve basically increased by an order of magnitude in a week.”

The transmission rate of a virus is basically the average number of people one infected person can infect. A transmission rate of less than 1 means the disease is dying out; a rate greater than one means that one person can infect one or more people, and teh disease will maintain itself.

Kramer said that his “back of the envelope” calculations showed that on July 13, the township’s transmission rate was .5.

“So for every two people infected, one person would catch it,” he said.

Just a week later, however, the township’s transmission rate has ballooned to “way over” 2, according to Kramer’s “back of the envelope” calculations, he said.

“That’s kind of runaway infections,” Kramer said.

The topic came up at the Open Space meeting because the committee was about to vote on whether it should return to in-person meetings. After Kramer’s news, committee members voted to meet in-person, unless the Council reverses its July 13 decision.

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