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Sussex Democrats want GOP incumbents to improve COVID-19 communication

County officials kept Andover deaths under wraps for weeks

By Nikita Biryukov, April 27 2020 5:37 pm

Sussex Democrats want the county’s Republican officials to better communicate their COVID-19 response measures with residents.

“We are asking Sussex County’s officials to stop casting blame on others and hold themselves accountable,” the Sussex County Democratic Committee said in a statement. “Anything but advocacy and transparency is counterproductive to providing Sussex County residents with the resources they need.”

The SCDC took aim at the incumbent freeholders over roughly a two-week-long public silence on the string of virus-related deaths at the Andover Subacute & Rehabilitation Center, where 17 bodies were kept in a makeshift morgue.

As of Monday afternoon, 34 residents at the Andover nursing home have died after contracting COVID-19, and 11 more died at a separate subacute facility in the Sussex town.

The New Jersey Herald last week reported that county officials were aware of the outbreak as early as March 29, but county residents were first informed of the deaths weeks later when the incident was reported in the press.

County officials informed state authorities about the deaths at the time, though many of the county’s elected Republicans were then attacking Gov. Phil Murphy over an executive order closing state and county parks.

“Sussex County deserves a higher standard of representation than elected officials blaming other elected officials for their own missteps. It is our right as constituents to hold all our officials accountable and to ask that they advocate for us,” the SCDC said. “We cannot get what we need when our leaders are looking backward and around, instead of inward and forward.”

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