WESTBOROUGH – The Westborough Town Seal Review Committee opted on Jan. 6 to postpone a planned information-gathering session due to the ongoing COVID-19 case surge.
The session, which was initially planned to take place at the Westborough Senior Center on Jan. 15, will now move forward on Feb. 12 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., pending availability of the senior center.
Session will continue committee’s outreach effort
Committee members discussed this session near the end of their meeting on Jan. 6.
“It’s a scary thing,” co-chair Alla Baranovsky said during discussion. “And I wouldn’t fault anyone who doesn’t feel up for coming out in the middle of January.”
“It would almost be irresponsible to hold it,” Committee Member Dan Lambert said of the planned Jan. 15 date.
The Town Seal Review Committee was convened last year to study and develop recommendations regarding Westborough’s town seal, which has been the subject of debate in recent years over its depiction of the cotton gin.
The cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney, a Westborough resident. But it’s also been linked to the expansion of slavery in the American South.
The committee had already held two information-gathering sessions late last year, organizing one in-person event as well as a second such event via Zoom.
It has been planning this third session with hopes to reach other community members that might not have attended those prior events.
Committee members note COVID-19 case surge
Before making their decision to change the session date, multiple members said that they worried current COVID-19 conditions might discourage attendance on Jan. 15.
“It just seems to me like, if we want to increase the rate of responses and encourage attendance then we should think about February,” Baranovsky said, later adding that she would be reluctant to attend in person, herself.
Though experts have said early data indicates a lower hospitalization and mortality rate among individuals infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Westborough’s case rate has continued to climb as the variant has spread.
Recent Board of Health data documented 354 new cases confirmed by PCR testing in the week preceding Jan. 7.
There were 11 cases reported following at-home rapid tests.
Those numbers represent an increase from 166 cases a week prior and 72 cases in the week before that.
Noting this surge, the Board of Health enacted a mask mandate last week that took effect on Jan. 5 to remain in effect at least through the end of January.
“We hope that the current crisis will have abated by that point in time,” Board of Health member Alan Ehrlich wrote in an update attached to the board’s most recent data report.