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Sunday, May 19, 2024


The Wrap: Covid, Weed, Public Safety and Municipal Happenings

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Get ‘The Wrap,’ our take on the news of the week, in your inbox every Monday. Sign up at Learn more about J. Byrne Insurance.
June 7-13:
Covid Numbers Good; New Danger Threatens
As summer nears, Covid numbers are the best they havebeen since the start of the pandemic. The county is averaging three new cases a day, there were no new fatalities this week, and hospitalizations are at lows not seen in eight months. The county’s vaccination rate slowed in the last month, but incremental progress is being made. 
This week, the county passed the 100,000 mark for administered doses, with 49,567 individuals fully vaccinated. Reports also show that breakthrough cases for the fully vaccinated are rare.
So, what’s the new worry? The Delta variant. 
Across the world, pandemic deaths in 2021 exceeded those in 2020. Variants are making themselves known. The Delta variant, originally named B.1.617.2, was first identified in Indiaand is now present in 60 countries. It quickly became the dominant variant in the United Kingdom. 
In a few short weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the variant accounted for 6% of new cases in the U.S. This new, highly transmissible variant can be defeated by the vaccines, but only after the second dose.
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study reported by the White House Covid Response Team shows that after two doses, the Pfizer vaccine is 88% effective against the Delta variant, but is only 33% effective after just one dose. The message is clear – get that second shot.
Maybe Weed Will Have a Home Here
The public embraced marijuana legalization by a two-to-one majority in the November election. Thus far, that has not translated to a welcome mat in Cape May County. 
Town after town adopted ordinances banning the sale, cultivation, manufacture and distribution of cannabis products within their boundaries. That changed this week, when Lower Township introduced an ordinance that would allow the sale and distribution of marijuana in two of its municipal zones. No other county municipality has yet embraced recreational cannabis. 
This week, Wildwood joined other municipalities when it banned smoking cannabis products in public places.
Middle Township supported the development of a medical marijuana facility on Indian Trail Road, but the municipality has yet to decide on recreational weed businesses.
Busy Week for Public Safety
Rescues Abound
The county’s rescue squads are busy, as the summer visitor population soars. In Wildwood, police, fire and a beach patrol EMT responded to a rescue of three individuals from the surf. One juvenile required medical attention. 
In North Wildwood, a falling victim was trapped on the seawall. When rescued, the victim was transported to the hospital.
Influx of Visitors Means More Police Activity
A 17-year-old from Turnersville was arrested and charged with second-degree assault, in North Wildwood. Meanwhile, Wildwood amusement piers were evacuated for what turned out to be a prank bomb threat. 
A Middle Township man lost his appeal of a conviction for a 2017 stabbing in a Rio Grande motel. The court noted the individual had 22 prior arrests, making him familiar with the criminal justice process. 
Also in Middle Township, a joint investigation led to a couple being charged with child abuse of a juvenile victim. One of two men convicted of felony murder in the 1996 robbery of the Firehouse Tavern lost his latest appeal. John Wesley Poteat received two life sentences in the murder/robbery.  
In Middle Township, a meeting of the Law Enforcement Community Engagement Committee gave residents a chance to express their concerns and hear about community policing efforts. Among the concerns was a complaint about “drinking, drugs and dice” after hours on the grounds of the Martin Luther King Center, in Whitesboro.
Municipal Happenings
Lower Township announced the end of its rescue squad in place since 1950. Financial difficulties led to the decision. An outside contractor will provide emergency medical services to the town. 
In Middle Township, a state housing advocacy group filed court papers , alleging Middle continuously delayed the process of developing an affordable housing plan. 
Meanwhile, Cape May went smoke-free in many public spaces, while also returning to its pre-Covid policy of no open consumption of alcohol. 
Erosion of south-end beaches in Sea Isle City led to closing access points to the beach from Townsend Inlet Park.
Sheriff Robert Nolan continues his litigation against state regulations that limited the help he can provide to federal immigration officials.
Ocean City School District saw a protest by some alumni and parents objecting to the actions of retiring Superintendent Kathleen Taylor.
School districts in Cape May County stand to receive $24 million in American Rescue Plan Relief funds.
Middle Township is seeking public input on open space projects.
Spout Off of the Week
Middle Township - To the Upper Township spouter who is defining what it is to be a “local”. You should be so lucky that new people move into the county. The backward thinking people could use a new perspective.

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