Board of Health Update 6/26/20

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Board of Health Update, June 26, 2020
 
 
Covid-19 total cases in Boxford increased this past week by 2, for a total of 41. This includes 38 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 3 cases in isolation.  As of 24 June, Topsfield has increased by two to 114 total cases, Middleton added no new cases and remains at 163 cases, and Georgetown added one new case for a total of 56.
 
Your BOH is developing a set of guidelines for the safe use of our playgrounds. Given the unsupervised and open nature of our playgrounds, it will be the responsibility of parents and guardians to ensure social distancing, use of face masks if social distancing cannot be achieved, and cleaning of equipment surfaces upon leaving. The guidelines can be accessed HERE. The Board approves of opening the playgrounds this Saturday, 27 June, according to the guidelines.
 
The Board continues to receive questions about when organized sports such as baseball and soccer games including more than 12 persons can resume.  At the present time and at least until we begin Phase 3 of the Baker Plan, such games are prohibited. We will know more when the Phase 3 conditions are made know by the state.

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Board of Health Update, June 22, 2020

Covid-19 total cases in Boxford added no new cases for the third week in a row, remaining at a total of 39. This includes 38 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 1 case in isolation.  As of 17 June, Topsfield has increased by one to 112 total cases, Middleton has increased by two to 163 cases, and Georgetown has no new cases and remains at 55 total.
 
Your BOH has been working with our camps to develop plans for their safe opening. This week, we approved the plan for the Danvers Y camp to open.  The detailed, 11 page plan addresses the conditions required by the state including cleaning, sanitizing in disinfecting; health checks for staff and children;  detailed action plans, including immediate isolation and notification of appropriate authorities and families, should someone become sick; and safe handling of food service and eating areas.
 
Please remember that social distancing and face masks rules are still in effect throughout Massachusetts and will be at least through Phase 3 of the Baker Plan. 

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Board of Health Update, June 12, 2020
Covid-19 total cases in Boxford added no new cases for the second week in a row, remaining at a total of 39. This includes 38 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 1 case in isolation.  As of 3 June, Topsfield has increased by one to 111 total cases, Middleton has increased by one to 161 cases, and Georgetown by one case to 55 total.
 
Your BOH has been working with the BAA to develop a plan for the safe opening of Stiles Pond Beach. A final plan has been approved by the BOH. The BAA hopes to open the beach to members on Saturday, 27 June.  The conditions for opening include a maximum of 100 beach goers at any one time, social distancing of families or groups in defined areas, and requiring face masks when social distancing cannot be achieved.

 

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Board of Health Update, June 5th 2020

Covid-19 total cases in Boxford added no new cases the past week, remaining at a total of 39. This includes 37 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 2 cases in isolation.  This the first week since we began weekly reporting of Covid-19 cases on April 2nd that no new cases have occurred in Boxford.

As of June 3rd, Topsfield has increased by one to 110 total cases, Middleton has increased by one to 160 cases, and Georgetown by two cases to 54 total. 

It is expected that Massachusetts will enter Phase 2 of the Baker reopening plan next week. In Boxford, this will primarily affect summer camps. Guidelines for setting conditions on opening camps have been released, and your BOH will be working with Boxford camps on plans to allow reopening.  Opening conditions include prohibiting overnight and residence camps, prohibiting visitors (including parents), set strict guidelines for routine health checks on staff, and allow only Massachusetts residents to attend the camps. Information for parents on the requirements can be found at: https://www.mass.gov/doc/information-about-recreational-camps-for-children-in-massachusetts-questions-and-answers-for/download.

Phase 2 of the Baker Plan also addresses organized sports activities and programs. While outdoor athletic facilities may be open and available for use by youth and adult sports activities, there are restrictions to such use. For example, social distancing remains in place and groups are still limited to 10, including coaches and players. Organized games, such as baseball and soccer games, are still prohibited in Phase 2. No-contact drills and training exercises are permitted. The full set of regulations can be viewed at:  https://www.mass.gov/doc/outdoor-adult-sports-supervised-youth-sports-leagues-summer-sports-camps/download .

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Board of Health Update, May 29, 2020

Covid-19 total cases in Boxford have grown by 4 since last week, to a total of 39. This includes 34 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 5 cases in isolation. 

As of May 27, Topsfield has increased from106 to 109 total cases, Middleton has increased from 144 to 159, and Georgetown from 45 to 52. This reverses the downward trends we’ve seen in the past few weeks and serves to warn us to not let up on social distancing and wearing face masks.

The phased reopening in Massachusetts does not mean that it’s safe to ignore social distancing and wearing face masks.  Groups of 10 or more are still prohibited, including groups in private homes. Close contact sports like baseball and soccer are still prohibited. Seniors and other vulnerable persons should still stay at home as much as possible.  The epidemic is not over and the virus will likely be with us until there is a vaccine available.

The CDC also estimates that from 20% to 50% of Covid-19 infected people are asymptomatic carriers, that is, they have the virus and can pass it to others but show no symptoms and do not feel ill. Until such persons are tested for some reason, there is no way of knowing if a person is asymptomatic.  More reason to wear a mask and distance yourself from others, especially those not wearing a mask.

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Board of Health Update, May 22, 2020
 
Covid-19 total cases in Boxford have grown by only 1 since last week, to a total of 35. This includes 30 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 5 cases in isolation. Contrary to a rumor circulating in town, the BOH has no knowledge of a death from Covid-19 in Boxford.   
 
As of 20 May, Topsfield has not increased from last week’s106 total cases, Middleton has increased from 132 to 144, and Georgetown from 40 to 45. This is a positive trend downward.
 
At the Board of Health meeting last night, the Board agreed to allow Stiles Pond Beach to open subject to a list of conditions including social distancing and a limit on total maximum number of people allowed at the beach at any one time (100). The occupancy limit was determined based on a minimum area of 12x12 feet (144 square feet) per ‘blanket group,’ that is a family group. In fact, a 100 person limit would allow for more separation than 12x12 feet. The snack bar will be allowed to open with conditions already in place for take-out restaurants. The Board will work with the BAA to write a plan for review and approval by the Board.  If approved, the decision to open will then be up to the BAA.
 
The Baker Plan for reopening also addresses camp openings. Some camps in the state, like Camp Rotary, have already decided not to open this year. Others may open, again with conditions, in Phase 2 of the Baker Plan. Phase 2 is slated to begin on 10 June, but that date depends on trends in Covid-19 infections and deaths. As yet, the state has not released a guide to Boards of Health to use in considering camp openings.
 
Please remember that social distancing and face masks requirements remain in place as we move forward in the reopening plan.  The plan can be stopped if Covid-19 cases and deaths start to climb again. Keep doing your part.
 

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Board of Health Update, May 15, 2020

COVID-19 total cases in Boxford have grown by 2 since last week, to a total of 34. This includes 28 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 6 cases in isolation (Note: the DPH website lists Boxford as having a total of 35 cases. This is an error: DPH is counting a duplicate).  As of 13 May, Topsfield has increased from last week from 100 to 106 total cases, Middleton from 128 to132, and Georgetown from 35 to 40. While there appears to be a slight downturn in cases, the growth is still significant.

We are awaiting specifics on changes to the various orders by the Governor that are due on Monday. From what he has said this week, those changes will primarily affect store openings.  Nothing has yet been mentioned about relaxing his order on assemblage. Until we know more and until the Governor specifically addresses assemblage, the Board of Health will continue to enforce the order in place. This will include a continued ban on sports practices and games, and delaying the opening of the Town beach. 

As up update to previous recommendations on wearing gloves, the CDC has published new guidelines for gloves. Essentially, they are not necessary for running everyday errands.  For details, go to https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/gloves.html.

We thank the majority of residents for following the face covering order.  We see the need for continuing to wear them for the near future. Some in town will not wear them, and that is unfortunate and irresponsible. They endanger others and themselves.

Keep safe.

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Board of Health Update, May 9, 2020

Covid-19 total cases in Boxford have grown by 4 since last week, to a total of 32. This includes 28 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 4 cases in isolation. As of 6 May, Topsfield has increased from last week from 87 to 100 total cases, Middleton from 109 to128, and Georgetown from 29 to 35. These increases are significant, and show us that the epidemic is still with us.

After your Board passed our Order requiring face coverings last week, the state followed with a state-wide requirement for face coverings.  It is very critical that our residents follow the BOH Order: wear a face mask/covering when you go into any town or commercial building in town, including post offices. As the numbers show, we’re not out of the emergency period yet. 

Do your part and let’s continue to keep our Covid-19 case numbers as low as possible.

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Board of Health Update, May 1, 2020
 

Covid-19 total cases in Boxford has grown by 3 since last week, to a total of 28. This includes 24 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 4 cases in isolation. As of 29 April, Topsfield has 87 total cases, Middleton 109, and Georgetown 29.

Your BOH continues to address means to ensure our residents are protected from Covid-19. At a Board meeting yesterday, the Board voted unanimously to issue an Order requiring face masks for anyone entering a public or commercial building. This includes the stores, post offices, police and fire departments, and Town Hall. The Order has the full and unanimous support of the Board of Selectmen. We hope that all residents will follow the Order. In the event they do not, violators will be subject to a first time warning by the Police, and a $300 fine for each violation thereafter.  Please follow the Order and help protect other residents and the employees in our buildings.

A question has also been raised about the use of disposable gloves.  There are mixed opinions on this, from those seeing their use as a means to protect the user, to others who point out that touching various surfaces with gloves on can spread the virus the same as a non-gloved hand.  There is also concern about properly removing the gloves and their safe disposal.  The BOH position on use of gloves is to leave decision on their use up to residents, but to emphasize their safe and appropriate disposal after use. The best protection remains avoiding touching your face with your hands when outside your home (gloves or no gloves), and washing your hands as often as possible.

Governor Baker’s extension of the Covid-19 emergency to at least 18 May is not unexpected but does place more pressure on residents to obey the order, especially the restrictions on groups of ten or more.  The Board has heard concerns from those residents involved in sports about starting or holding practices and games for various sports. Paragraph 8 of the 31 March Order from the Governor specifically prohibits athletic activities even if they involve less than 10 people. This is the law, it is justified by Covid-19, and it must be followed even with the disruptions it may cause.  We can hope that the emergency will be lifted on 18 May, but residents should not see this as a day certain.  If Covid-19 cases do not show a steady decline by that date, the Order may be extended again.

Keep following the distancing and stay home orders. Please follow the new face covering Order.  Let’s continue to keep our Covid-19 case numbers low.

Click here for Board of Health Order Requiring Face Masks

 

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Board of Health Update, April 23, 2020

 
Covid-19 total cases in Boxford has grown by 3 since last week, to a total of 25. This includes 12 cases in recovery and out of isolation, and 13 cases in isolation. As of today, Topsfield has 76 total cases and Middleton 114.
 
On Monday, 21 April, Governor Baker signed into law a bill that prohibits foreclosures and evictions for 120 days or 45 days after the State of Emergency is lifted (HB4647). Your Board of Health is in the process of passing an Order that will parallel the Governor’s bill and, in addition, place a moratorium on some real estate activities like Open Houses as well as set rules on how house showings can be done. This moratorium is to protect those residing in a house and to decrease transmission from home tours. The Order is being issued jointly with the Board of Selectmen.
 
The question has been raised about whether the Board should make the use of face masks or coverings in public mandatory. We discussed this at our meeting last Monday and we have also checked other Towns around Boxford. Most have not mandated face masks. Your Board decided against a mandatory requirement as well, given the rural nature of Boxford and the few commercial establishments in town. However, we strongly recommend masks if you enter any commercial establishment in town or will be near other people outside of your household for any length of time.
 
There still is a continuing need for donated non-perishable food items being distributed by our Police and the Council on Aging. Drop-off is at the Police Station garage during normal day hours. Thank you for helping those in need.
 
It appears we are into the predicted ’surge’ of Covid-19. Hopefully we will start to see a decrease in cases over the next few weeks. It’s unlikely that decrease will be rapid, so please keep doing what you’ve been doing so well:  stay home and social distancing. One model that has some credibility predicts that Massachusetts may be ready to lift the State of Emergency by the first week or two in June.  Keep safe.
 

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Board of Health Update, April 17, 2020
 
As Massachusetts enters the predicted peak time for Covid-19 cases, Boxford has added seven new cases over the last few days to bring our total active cases to 10.
 
There has been some confusion on how we have been reporting Covid-19 cases. We have been reporting active cases, not cases in recovery and out of isolation. In a release from the state Department of Public Health this week, Boxford was reported as having had 15 Covid-19 cases as of 14 April.  This number, as of 14 April, was correct and included 12 cases in recovery and 3 cases in isolation.  That changed quickly after the DPH report as we added 7 new active cases on 16 April. As of this update, Boxford has 12 cases in recovery and 10 active cases in isolation for a total of 22 Covid-19 cases.  We apologize for any confusion.
 
While Boxford’s Covid-19 total cases are low compared to many towns and cities in Massachusetts, it is increasing and may indicate we are reaching the peak of the epidemic.  It is imperative that our residents continue to stay at home and as isolated as possible except for necessary trips for groceries or pharmacy items. The next few weeks will, hopefully, bring us through the worst of the virus. Keep safe.
 

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Friday, April 10, 2020   

Two new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Boxford over the past week and two existing cases have recovered. We thus maintain a number of four active cases in Boxford.

Remember that starting on Monday, April 13, all trash barrels and bags must have a trash sticker. We are excited to announce that our residents may now pay online for trash stickers  - click here  for information on Boxford’s online trash sticker payment options.  While we will continue to respond to orders for Trash Stickers via mail, we encourage residents to place future orders online.  The Town received and processed orders for over 2000 stickers this week.

There is a new emphasis from the CDC on the possibility that many people, while not showing the symptoms of Covid-19, may be infected and carriers, able to spread the virus to others through contact and simply speaking. As a result, CDC is now recommending that you wear a face mask or covering when you go out into public.  After wearing the mask, it should be washed (if cloth), spayed with a disinfectant and left to dry (if paper), or disposed into a bag and sealed (if disposable). Please do not discard used masks (or gloves) on the ground or in other open areas.

CDC is also projecting that the next weeks in April may reach the peak of infections and deaths. Such projections are not absolute, we just need to wait and see. It remains very critical that we continue to stay home as much as possible and, when out, keep our distance from others.  Stay safe.

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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Your Board of Health continues to monitor state and Boxford conditions and information for Covid-19.

As of today, we still have four confirmed Covid-19 cases in Boxford, and have added two new possible cases. We also have some past possible cases coming out of quarantine who did not develop the disease. While we should not be too optimistic, these numbers are hopeful and while Covid-19 cases are increasing in other towns and cities in the state our numbers attest to Boxford residents adhering to distancing and staying at home. Please keep up your good work.

We have had a significant increase in curb-side trash for pick-up that is overwhelming our hauler, Waste Management. To offset this, we will be reopening the Recycling Center this Saturday (April 4). The usual fees will apply payable by cash or check. We have put in place new procedures to minimize the exposure of our attendants to potential Covid-19 exposure.

Curbside pickup of trash without stickers will continue the week of  6 April. Due to the large amount of trash left over the past three weeks, only two trash barrels and/or bags will be allowed without a sticker. Additional barrels or bags without stickers will be left. Residents may still leave up to a total of five barrels and/or bags if they are stickered. Any number over five will be left, as stated in our contract with Waste Management.  All trash must be in bags or barrels and all recycling in bins. No loose cardboard or other items can be taken to protect the health of Waste Management employees. To help minimize the exposure of trash collectors, we ask that you not place loose trash into a barrel. Rather, place the loose trash into a bag and place that into the barrel.

Beginning April 13, all trash needs to have a sticker on every barrel and bag (up to a maximum of 5). Non-stickered trash will not be picked up.

Trash stickers may be purchased at the Boxford Community Store and West Village Provisions, and Nason’s Stonehouse Farm shop. Stickers may also be purchased by mail.  Send your request for stickers with a check ($2.50 per sticker) made out to the Town of Boxford  to: Boxford Town Hall, Attention Trash Sticker Request, 7A Spofford Road, Boxford, MA,01921. Or drop off your order at Town Hall by placing into the tax mail slot near the front door.  We recommend that residents order sufficient stickers to last 8 weeks. Your request will be filled by return mail within three days from receipt of your order

As we enter April, predictions are that the next 3 weeks will reach the high point of the Covid-19 epidemic as long as we continue to stay home and away from others and gatherings. It’s still uncertain when we can look forward to returning to some normalcy. That will depend on when new cases of the virus start to recede. At this point, the epidemic may still affect our lives through May and possibly into June. Isolation and social distancing appears to be working. 

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Friday, March 27, 2020 - UPDATE

Your BOH continues to monitor update new cases of Covid-19 in Boxford.  Since our last update last week, no new cases have occurred in Boxford, we still have four confirmed. This may change, so please continue to stay at home except to go out for groceries or to a pharmacy.
 
When you do go into stores, wear disposable gloves if you have them. After you put your purchases in your car, take off the gloves and throw away in the trash---at home if there is no place to dispose of them where you are.  To take off disposable gloves, ‘peel’ them off by pinching the end by your wrist and pulling toward your finger tips. This places the contaminated outside of the gloves inside the gloves.
 
We have learned from neighboring town Boards of Health that there are two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Middleton and two in Georgetown.
 
With the warmer weather, ticks are becoming active. Check yourselves and your dogs after walks in fields or woods, or even after being outside in your yard.  For those who want to purchase Tick Tubes from the BOH, these are now available at both the East Village and West Village stores for $43 per box. Our thank you to the stores for offering this service.
 
There are many opinions you will hear about when the number of Covid-19 cases will slow and then begin to subside.  The most repeated, based on what is occurring in China and elsewhere in the world, is that the United States will reach a peak in mid to late April, and then cases will slowly subside. We can hope. But understand this is a prediction and predictions are not promises. Continue with staying home, limited contact with others, cleaning surfaces and washing your hands.  Let’s keep the number of cases in Boxford low.
 

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Thursday, March 26, 2020  

HELP KEEP TRASH COLLECTORS SAFE - PLEASE BAG YOUR TRASH  

Due to increased concerns for worker safety because of the COVID-19 virus, we ask that residents place all household trash in bags before setting them at the curb for collection. Please ensure that all bags are properly sealed to prevent contents from spilling. REMINDER: latex gloves go in the trash – NOT in your recycling container. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Our drivers appreciate it!

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This is an update from your Board of Health.  As of today, Boxford has 4 known and 7 quarantined cases of Covid-19. Most of the quarantined individuals are relatives of the known cases.

A number of Board members have been approached by residents wanting to know if they have been exposed to those in town having or suspected of having Covid-19. Board members cannot answer this question because we do not know who the Covid-19 individuals in town are. Only two people who work for the Board know the names and addresses of Covid-19 individuals. The Board limits this information to protect the privacy of Covid-19 cases. This is federal law.

A major advance was made this week when the Governor signed a law ordering Boards of Health to share the addresses of Covid-19 cases with the Police and Fire departments. Your Board has been very active in arguing for this policy so that our First Responders and town police and fire officers will know, in advance, if they need to enter a building with a Covid-19 patient. They can then utilize protective gear. This is critical since our supplies of protective gear are low. Only the Fire and Police Chiefs are given the information, only to be disseminated if there is a call to one of the addresses.

The Board is also aware of false, misleading, and disturbing statements being made on Social media about Covid-19 and persons infected with the virus.  We cannot stop such postings. We can only advise you to ignore and never reply to the post.  If you have questions about the status of the Covid-19 epidemic, call the state hotline at 211.

The members of your Board of Health are resident volunteers, your neighbors.  Yet in our careers, collectively, we possess decades of professional experience at the cutting edge of Health Care and epidemiology.  We will continue provide you with updates and the best, accurate information available. The Board appreciates the efforts and sacrifices being made by our residents in this time of crisis.  Keep following containment and distancing practices. Keep vigilant for any symptoms of the virus in your household.  And remember, we’re all in this together.

Please continue to contact the Massachusetts 24/7 line for information on Covid-19 by dialing 211.

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Board of Health Update 3/17/20

Your BOH met in emergency session last night and discussed issues related to Covid-19 in Boxford.  As of Tuesday, 17 March, we have 3 confirmed and 1 suspected case of Covid-19 in Boxford.  All cases are isolated and being checked daily.

Trash stickers are not available at the (closed) Town Hall. If you need trash stickers you can buy them at either the West or East stores. If you do not have them for this week’s pick-up, the BOH has instructed Waste Management to still take your trash. We hope that all residents will continue to use stickers since their purchase keeps the cost of our trash and recycling down.

The Recycling Center will be closed for the next two weeks (21 and 28 March) to protect our workers at the site. The Center is under video surveillance to discourage illegal dumping. Violators will be fined.

The Boxford Police Dept. has stockpiled non-perishable foods that are available to Seniors and those in need who cannot or should not go out to buy food. You can call into the Police Dept or the Council on Aging and ask for food or other aid. The police will deliver food and also pick up and deliver prescriptions and other medical supplies. Donations of non-perishable foods are also welcome.  Take the items to the Police Station and leave them in the garage. The door will be open during the day.

The BOH urges anyone developing a cough or fever, or having trouble breathing, to contact your Doctor by phone, text or eMail immediately.  Stay home and wait for advice from your Doctor. 

Massachusetts has also opened a 24/7 line for information on Covid-19. Dial 211.

 

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MESSAGE UPDATE 3/12/20:

Your Board of Health has received the protocols (see documents attached below)  that are to be followed if a person is suspected of (quarantine) or has been diagnosed with (isolation) Corona Virus. These are provided for your information only---the BOH is not placing anyone into quarantine or isolation at this time. As of today (12 March) there are 6 confirmed and 102 presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts.

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ORIGINAL MESSAGE POSTED 3/11/20:

Your Board of Health is monitoring developments as the Coronavirus begins to spread throughout New England. We are in contact with the state Department of Public Health, and following their suggestions as well as those of Federal agencies. 

Please read the attached document containing important information regarding the Coronavirus.

 

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PDF icon coronavirus.pdf133.02 KB
PDF icon Isolation Information172.78 KB
PDF icon Quarantine Information184.6 KB