NEW MILFORD – A surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks has led to the cancellation of fall recreation sports.
Mayor Michael Putrino said in a Facebook post on Saturday that the borough had recorded more than 60 confirmed cases in August, with 57 of them coming in the previous 15 days. He noted that was a huge spike from eight total reported cases in July.
In an interview, Putrino put the blame for the increase on “unprotected social gatherings” among a cross-section of people and said he has been getting reports about such happenings around town.
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“Three weeks ago, our number was six, then it went to 29, then it went to 26 last week,” Putrino said. “I was disappointed, I was angry.
“A few weeks ago, I met with Recreation and we were ready to move forward with fall sports, put in policies and procedures in effect in how we were going to run it, and then all of a sudden, we got hit with these high numbers.”
Putrino said he decided to cancel the recreation soccer, travel soccer and travel softball seasons on the recommendation of the New Milford COVID-19 Task Force and in consultation with the Recreation Department and the coordinators of the respective sports.
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As of Sunday, there were 535 total cases in the borough and 43 deaths since the pandemic began in March. Many of the earlier cases were reported at the CareOne Woodcrest long-term care facility. Putrino said he did not know of any new cases at the center, and New Jersey Department of Health data does not show any current cases there.
Putrino said the borough has sent out Reverse 911 calls to residents to warn them to be diligent about social distancing and wearing masks. He said he hopes that cases will not continue to go up.
“My hope is that people continue to be responsible, the environment changes and the numbers go down,” Putrino said. “I want to flatten the curve again.”
The mayor estimated 250 children participating in the three fall sports programs are affected by the cancellation. They include his 13-year-old daughter, whose travel softball team he’d planned to coach, and his 11-year-old daughter, who plays soccer.
He said it was not easy to make the decision.
“I am extremely disappointed and heartbroken about this,” Putrino said. “Some people understand, some people don’t understand, but everyone has to understand that the decision I made is for the safety of our kids, our coaches, and our parents.”
Ricardo Kaulessar is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: New Milford sees spike in COVID-19 cases and cancels fall recreation sports