By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – There were 82 new COVID-19 active cases reported at the Dec. 8 Northborough Board of Health meeting. Town Health Agent Kristin Black said this number is double the number from the previous week reported on Dec. 3. The big uptick is attributed to the Thanksgiving holiday and college students returning home. New state guidelines and restrictions were also discussed.
At the time of the meeting, the total number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic jumped from 419 to 501 in a week.
“In a week, that is a huge jump,” said Black. “This is Thanksgiving, college students returning, high household rates of transmission, everyone moving inside…a lot of factors. We are not alone; many communities are seeing this jump.”
Black continues to enhance the town COVID-19 webpage to include resources and important links to information. There are now separate pages for businesses and residents.
Also added is a testing resource page that links to the state’s site. The closest Stop the Spread sites are currently in Marlborough, Worcester and Framingham.
“They have exceptional turnaround time, but they are all a little different,” Black said. “Everyone needs to really go to that website. It changes all the time. Some of the centers require appointments, while others do not. Some are drive thru and some are not.”
An age cohort graph is updated weekly.
“It shows that COVID affects everyone,” said Black. “Every week it differs, but you can see that the case counts are distributed across all age cohorts.”
The quarantine period has been shortened if you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, but you do not exhibit any symptoms.
The previous guidelines were to quarantine for 14 days and resume work on day 15. This is still the case if you are not tested and don’t monitor for symptoms. Currently, students in the Northborough/Southborough Public Schools are also required to still follow the 14 day quarantine.
If you test negative on day 5 of the quarantine and continue to monitor for symptoms, you can complete the quarantine in 7 days and resume work on day 8. If you decide not to be tested, but monitor symptoms and complete a strict 10-day quarantine, you can resume work on day 11.
“Given staff time, we don’t have the time to actively reach out to every case in quarantine to let them know,” Black said. “We are going to do our best to notify residents of these new guidelines, but we do encourage all residents if they have questions…to call the health office.”
The state of Massachusetts is rolling back restrictions to Phase 3, Step 1 of the reopening plan effective Sunday, Dec. 13.
Outdoor gatherings and events will now be limited to 50 people. A capacity reduction to 40 percent for some businesses will be in effect. Masks must now be worn at all times at gyms.
Stricter restaurant restrictions will be in effect, including a 6 person limit per table, a time limit of 90 minutes and mask wearing will be required when not actively eating or drinking. Dining out with household members only is encouraged.