COVID vaccine, safe holiday events on Tabernacle committee agenda

Officials seek ways to host socially distanced Santa and tree lighting.

Burlington County residents could possibly receive a vaccine for COVID-19 as early as mid-December.

Early vaccines will be limited to health-care and EMS providers and first responders before enough are made for the general public. Burlington County Health Department Officer Holly Funkhouser told the Tabernacle Committee she expects vaccines to be publicly available by March.

More people in Tabernacle tested positive for COVID-19 last week than before, with 25 positive cases in seven days. 

“This curve is much worse than we saw back in April,” Committeeman Bob Sunbury said. “I just urge people to recognize that this is real and to love your families. Take appropriate precautions. Please make it a safe and happy Thanksgiving.”

The “upswing” in cases is not limited to Tabernacle alone, said Funkhouser, who presented the annual health report to the committee on Monday. 

Cases have seen the highest spike since the start of the pandemic in Burlington County, which had 301 cases last week. The county had 171 total cases in May. 

“We really have ramped up exponentially,” Funkhouser said. “We are expecting to see additional cases climb through the holidays as people continue to get together, whether it’s, you know, small groups or bigger things.”

The committee discussed ways to offer a safe holiday to Tabernacle residents and announced a home decorating contest. A previously discussed drive-through Santa event was canceled, causing backlash from the committee.

“Now it looks like the recreation committee will be the Grinch that stole Christmas from the young kids,” Sunbury said. 

Chairman Mark LeMire said his Recreation Committee has heard safety concerns from the public about the Santa event, including worries about COVID-19 and traffic.

“Families are looking for things to do with their children,” Sunbury explained. “But if there are concerns, I’d like to know what they are, because I’m flabbergasted that we’re not going to do anything.”

The possibility of a drive-through Santa event will continue to be discussed.

The township’s annual tree lighting will also see some COVID-related changes. Instead of hosting a ceremony, the tree will be lit privately and stand in the center of town, though details are still in the works.

The committee approved four resolutions during the meeting, including a trash collection contract, construction costs and contracts and a payment to the fire department.