Marlborough officials urge caution as they note confirmed COVID-19 cases leveling

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Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant speaks during a press conference April 28. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

City cancels Memorial Day parade; extends transfer station waivers

 By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer

Marlborough – Officials uttered words of cautious optimism at a press conference April 28, touting city initiatives and digging into current case numbers as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

Taking place at the otherwise closed-down City Hall, the event gathered Mayor Arthur Vigeant alongside DPW Assistant Commissioner of Operations Ted Scott, and Director of Public Health John Garside.

“The curve seems to be leveling,” Garside said of local infection data. “We’re not there yet, we’ll continue to watch the numbers over the next week or so, but we’ve seemed to be consistent with the number of new cases over the last few days.”

In total, 388 Marlborough residents have tested positive for the coronavirus since February 1. That’s a statistic that skyrocketed throughout April as a surge in cases coupled with expanding local testing capabilities inflated local diagnoses from just 50 on April 1.

Garside’s new assertion that daily increases may soon plateau and then decrease, though, does line up with state data from the Mass. Department of Health that shows the once exponential rise in COVID-19 cases slowing.

“That portion is going in the right direction,” Vigeant said, speaking specifically on the increasing ratio of recovered versus active cases in Marlborough.

Once relatively low, that number now stands at 190, actually now exceeding the number of active cases, 189.

All this being said, though, officials were quick to contextualize their data.

“We’re understanding there’s probably a significant amount of community spread that has not been documented through testing,” Garside said. “So we ask folks to continue to practice social distancing.”

That push lined up with Gov. Charlie Baker’s concurrent move April 28, to extend the statewide shelter in place advisory through May 18, due to the coronavirus.

Likewise, Garside’s words reflected new ripple effects impacting local community plans.

Speaking earlier in his presentation, Vigeant announced the city’s public service summer internship for local students had been cancelled.

Likewise, he added that officials, in agreement with event organizers, had scrubbed plans for this year’s Memorial Day parade, which normally draws big crowds to downtown Marlborough in late May.

“We continue to work to find a proper way to recognize the veterans we have in the city that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said on that topic.

Aside from cancellations, though, officials remained generally positive, lauding local outreach efforts particularly around waste management and food distribution.

The city’s expansive meal delivery service has now, according to Vigeant, handed out over 85,000 meals.

That, combined with a meal program for senior citizens and the ongoing efforts of the local Community Cupboard, amounts to a response Vigeant said he’s happy about.

“Marlborough is leading the state in providing food and meals to our residents,” he said.

Ted Scott, meanwhile, announced the program allowing residents without transfer station stickers to still drop off trash and yard waste at the town facility will continue through the end of June.

“We understand that, if you’re at home, you generate more trash.”

Warning periods of social distancing are far from over, officials remain proud of their local response to the coronavirus and cast hopeful eyes to the future.

“We have better days ahead,” Garside said.