Editor’s Note: In today’s message, Town Manager Sarah Stanton and Bedford’s Covid-19 Task Force clarify the new guidelines for reopening Massachusetts along with the current case count.
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As of today, May 22, 2020, there have been a total of one hundred eighty-eight (188) positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the Town of Bedford Board of Health by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) and thirty-seven (37) deaths of Bedford residents attributed to COVID-19. The total case number includes residents of the Town of Bedford, including but not limited to those in: single-family homes, apartments, the VA campus, Hanscom Air Force Base, special needs group homes and any and all other larger assisted living/care facilities in Bedford as reported to us by the MA DPH.
As you may be aware, long-term care facilities serving the elderly and congregate care facilities, house susceptible populations with underlying conditions who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Increased testing occurs at these facilities which results in more positive cases being identified. As such, cities and towns with these facilities, like Bedford, experience elevated positive case counts and, unfortunately, deaths due to the vulnerability to COVID-19 of the populations within those facilities.
Fifty-three (53) of the total Bedford cases have already recovered and have come off of isolation and there may other Bedford residents who would be considered persons under investigation in that they are symptomatic, have undergone testing but have not yet received results. There are other individuals impacted by COVID-19 in the community that have not sought medical attention, and/or have not been tested and are isolating at home regardless. Those individuals do not appear on the surveillance reports the Town receives from the MA DPH.
What’s Open and Reopening in Bedford – What Can Individuals Do?
On Monday, May 18, 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a four-phase strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities while continuing to fight COVID-19, guided by public health metrics. As of Monday, May 18th, Phase 1 of the reopening plan allowed for manufacturing facilities and construction sites to resume operation with applicable guidelines. Places of worship were also able to open for services, if they chose to do so, with specific guidelines and a capacity limitation of 40%. Essential businesses already in operation are permitted to continue operation but in compliance with the new guidance and, in some cases, capacity limitations. Hospitals and community health centers that attest to specific public health and safety standards were also allowed to begin to provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care, and treatment for high-risk patients. Mandatory safety standards, sector-specific protocols, and best practices can be found on the MA DPH website on Reopening at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/reopening-massachusetts#general-business-guidance-
This coming Monday, May 25, 2020, additional Phase 1 sectors of the economy will be permitted to open including lab space, office space – limited to 25% of capacity, limited personal services (only hair salons/barber shops/pet grooming, by appointment only), touchless car washes, retail (remote fulfillment and curbside pick-up only). Additionally, tennis courts and basketball courts will be open for non-contact, non-organized activities.
Also effective on May 18th, the Department of Public Health updated the Stay at Home Advisory, replacing it with a new, “Safer at Home” Advisory which instructs everyone to stay home unless they are headed to a newly opened facility or activity. It also advises those over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions to stay home with the exception of trips required for health care, groceries, or that are otherwise absolutely necessary. All residents must continue to wear a face-covering in public when social distancing is not possible, and individuals are advised to wash their hands frequently and be vigilant in monitoring for symptoms. Restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people remain in effect, except in unconfined outdoor spaces.
With the nice weather forecasted for this weekend, the Memorial Day holiday on Monday and an overall “antsy-ness” developing, the Bedford Board of Health and the COVID-19 Task Force, who have been working so diligently to keep you informed and protected during this epidemic, caution residents to be mindful that a slow and steady approach to regaining normalcy in our lives will indeed help us win the race.
Just because something is allowed, or restrictions are loosened, doesn’t mean you have to jump into the fray at full speed.
- Please use social distancing.
- Please wear a face covering when leaving your home.
- Please wash your hands often for 20 seconds.
- Please do not touch your face.
- Please do not gather in large groups.
- Continue to slow the spread.
Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday weekend!