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Township Council Reverses Itself, Votes To Maintain Virtual Meetings

Exactly two weeks after voting to return to in-person meetings, the Township Council on July 27 reversed itself, in a nod to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases among township residents.

The Council unanimously passed a resolution, proposed by Mayor Phil Kramer, to maintain meeting virtually “until further notice.”

Kramer was also the person behind the July 13 resolution to return to in-person meetings. At that meeting, he said the action was spurred by a declining infection rate in the township.

At the time, Kramer said, the average infection rate in Franklin was .4, or less than one person a day.

“It was almost like clockwork,” Kramer said. “The next day we had seven cases.”

A total of 78 Franklin residents tested positive for the virus between July 13 and July 27, according to the township Office of Emergency Management.

Now, Kramer said, the average infection rate in Franklin is 7.9 people a day.

“That is an order of magnitude that we have increased” Kramer said. “I think that it is safer now for ourselves and for the public to stay with virtual meetings until things change.”

After the meeting, Kramer said that his “back of the envelope calculation” showed that the virus transfer rate in Franklin is two. That means every person who has the virus is passing it to two other people.

Statewide, the transfer rate is 1.5.

A virus ceases to spread when the transmission rate is below one.

There was no Council comment on Kramer’s motion. The only comment came from a resident, Tom Johnston, who asked why the Council is “considering reneging on their promise” to return to in-person meetings, since teh Somerset County Commissioners have stopped meeting virtually.

“I take full responsibility for this,” Kramer said. “I advised Council last time that it was safe in my opinion to go back to in-person.”

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