Mo Hill has a detailed map of coronavirus infections but isn’t sharing it with the people in his community, so we’re going to have to take his word for it…
TOMS RIVER-Toms River Mayor Maurice B. Hill on Tuesday revealed the existence of a COVID-19 map that plots the township’s 221 confirmed cases and was asked about his lack of response during the pandemic by a resident, assured the township council that there was no concentration of COVID-19 based on any demographics or specific geographic locations in the community.
“When Will our Public Officials finally make public statements about certain areas of town not following the rules of gatherings there is a reason our numbers along brick and Jackson are increasing,” asked resident Sal DiFilippo. “The numbers show toms river but not the sections of toms river, if it can be proven wrong show it. Our mayor should have spoken out as soon as the first occurrences were taken place.”
DiFlippo referenced Mayor Hill’s friend and neighbor Scott Gartner, who was the frequent topic of a perceived elected scandal during the 2019 by Hill’s election opponents.
“If his neighbor is his supposedly a friend [Gartner], why isn’t he speaking to him directly and to the public to show the residents of toms river that he is making some kind of effort?” DiFilippo asked the mayor. “Until yesterday when the Ocean County Prosecutor spoke up, there’s been nothing said.”
It is a question that has been resonating throughout the community since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
Hill answered by discussing an alleged school bus full of children being spotted days prior in North Dover.
“We have received several reports over the last few days regarding school busses/vehicles from Lakewood still transporting students in violation of the Governors Executive Order,” the Toms River Police Department said at the time. “Today at approximately 2pm we received a call from an Ocean County Prosecutor’s Officer requesting a Toms River Police Car assist with a motor vehicle stop on one of those suspected busses. Our officer responded and assisted with the investigation as well as a Lakewood police officer to follow up with a suspected school still open in their town.”
Hill said he immediately called Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles to see what was going on.
“Yes, I had an email last Thursday about a bus in the northern section of town,” Hill said. “I called Mayor Coles and asked him if the schools have been shut down and he told me they were and the buses were being used to deliver meals to the children in the northern section of town,” Hill said. “We have received several reports over the last few days regarding school busses/vehicles from Lakewood still transporting students in violation of the Governors Executive Order. Today at approximately 2pm we received a call from an Ocean County Prosecutor’s Officer requesting a Toms River Police Car assist with a motor vehicle stop on one of those suspected busses. Our officer responded and assisted with the investigation as well as a Lakewood police officer to follow up with a suspected school still open in their town. The law enforcement community is not tolerating any violations of this executive order and will prosecute those responsible. We are working very closely and in coordination with the OC Prosecutor and other municipalities. The police did stop a bus and were in contact with the prosecutor’s office to investigate to see if they were picking up students or doing a food delivery.”
Hill then made a revelation that had not been previously shared by any law enforcement agency or health agency at any level of government in the state of New Jersey. A detailed geographic map of COVID-19 infections exists beyond the general daily count provided by the Ocean County Health Department. Hill said the stories on Facebook regarding higher than normal outbreak figures in the northern section of town that has a higher concentration of Orthodox Jewish residents are nothing but a myth and that his map does not back up those rumors.
“I can tell you that looking at the map that I get daily, the cases are spread throughout town, they’re not concentrated in one area, there’s no one central epicenter of town,” Hill said. “They’re spread pretty evenly through the town.”
Neither Hill’s office, nor the county have made the map referenced by Hill available to the public or the media.