At the Board of Health’s one-hour meeting Monday evening, Public Health Nurse Simone Carter announced that the state designated the Hopkinton Health Department as a Community Naloxone Purchasing Program affiliate, allowing it to distribute the medicine used to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.
The goal of the CNPP is to prevent death from opioid overdose by increasing distribution of free naloxone to community organizations across Massachusetts, according to the mass.gov website. CNPP designees can order naloxone at a partial or full subsidy directly from the State Office of Pharmacy Services. The program stipulates that designees are expected to provide counseling on overdose prevention and training on overdose response to all persons who receive naloxone as part of this initiative. This naloxone will not be billed to a patient’s insurance.
“As we continue our planning progress, we will institute free community trainings on a rolling basis,” Carter said. “In the meantime, naloxone and fentanyl testing kits are always available through the Health Department, and I can train anyone who needs that in person.”
“That is really great news,” said Board of Health Chair Lisa Whittemore.
Fellow board members Richard Jacobs and Regina Miloslavsky commended Carter for her efforts.
Said Jacobs: “I’m just impressed with what you’re doing.”
“Our goal is to take these certifications and then develop a community crisis response team,” added Health Director Shaun McAuliffe. It would work with fire and police as well as the Youth and Family Services Department and the Senior Center.
He explained that the naloxone and fentanyl testing kits would be distributed to the public at some point just like COVID-19 testing kits.
“The DPH has recognized that the department as a whole is really firing on all cylinders,” he added. “They said that they would support any request that we provided them.”
COVID cases decrease
In other news, Carter explained that COVID-19, RSV and the flu all are beginning to decrease both locally and nationwide. The current average COVID-19 official case count of reported cases is averaging 2.6 cases per day in town, “and it seems to be relatively mild disease.”
She added that people should still be mindful of prevention strategies, as it still is present.
Regarding test kits, Carter noted that the shelf life for them was extended by the Food and Drug Administration for 15 months past the initial three-month timeframe.
The department still is offering the Moderna bivalent booster shots to those ages 6 and older. Clinics are run every Tuesday, but Carter noted that she can be contacted to arrange appointments. She said that as the virus continues to weaken, “It will look a lot more like flu going forward” with annual vaccinations.
Climate Action Workgroup shares update
Climate Action Workgroup members gave a presentation about its climate action strategy, receiving a commitment of support from the Board of Health. It is a subcommittee of the Sustainable Green Committee that has been educating local boards about its work.
“Climate change is a global problem with requires local solutions,” said Geoff Rowland, the group’s leader, as he led the presentation. “Here in Hopkinton, we’re trying to do our part.
The group is focusing on conducting a greenhouse gas inventory to assess the town’s carbon emissions. Residential buildings, commercial and industrial buildings and passenger vehicles each comprise about one-third of the town’s total greenhouse gas emissions, he explained. The Eversource LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant produces about 7-8 percent of total Hopkinton emissions and about 20 percent of stationary commercial/industrial emissions, Rowland noted.
McAuliffe added that the town previously invited Harvard University and Boston University to the LNG facility to conduct air quality testing and surveillance. There was not much fugitive gas around the plant, he said, according to their findings.
A problem that is “low-hanging fruit” to be solved by Eversource relatively easily is the number of gas leaks in town, noted McAuliffe.
“There’s currently no developed method to figure out the carbon sequestration impact there — which we know there is,” Rowland said. “We know that our trees, as we let them grow, are bringing in more carbon. We know that if we plant more native plants and reduce the size of our lawns, we’re restoring our carbon.”
The group also plans to put forward a net zero resolution, Rowland continued. It would set a target for reducing carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030, 75 percent by 2037, and 100 percent by 2045. The last two target figures are lower than the state’s goals of 2040 and 2050, respectively. He noted that neighboring Westborough has “four to five times the amount” of emissions as Hopkinton because Hopkinton has more green space, as well as newer buildings with more efficient building standards.
“Does that make your percent reduction more challenging because you’re starting from a better spot?” Jacobs asked.
Rowland said that no matter what year is picked, “This is going to be crazy hard to achieve.”
The Climate Action Workgroup also is in the process of drafting a climate action plan, which will include community feedback sessions, as well as a municipal aggregation plan, he added.
Workgroup member Nicole Simpson said that as more people transition to electric or hybrid vehicles, the rates will improve.
Fellow member Amy Groves also noted the impact of insect-borne illness and soil erosion on the environment.
“It’s really such important work that you’re doing,” Whittemore said. “Any way that we can support you, we are more than happy to support you.”