Health director laments uncooperative resident, seeks ‘solutions’ to basketball court closures

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Health Department director Shaun McAuliffe reported to the Select Board Tuesday night that the town suffered its 13th death due to COVID-19 with the passing earlier this month of Randy Magnanti (see obituary).

McAuliffe said the town has one active case, which came from work exposure.

“They are quarantined but otherwise not cooperating with us,” he said. “So we’re addressing the situation with the state. That said, they are compliant with our quarantine, so we’re just trying to figure out our options for a trace-back given the situation.”

McAuliffe said he normally communicates with other local boards of health to discuss cases and contacts, but in this situation it has been a challenge.

“Our goal is to be as thorough as possible,” he said. “If you’re not openly cooperating with the department it makes it next to impossible.”

Added McAuliffe: “It is the only instance so far where we’ve just had a failure to cooperate. We’re working with the [Department of Public Health] to figure out what our options are. … One out of over 1,000 cases, groups that we’ve worked with. I’ll take that as a win.”

The Health Department’s recent recommendation to close the outdoor basketball courts in town frustrated a number of residents. McAuliffe stands by the decision, but he said he is considering options that would appease individuals looking to get some exercise.

“We’re working with all the stakeholders involved, and we’re trying to figure out how to reach some mutually agreed upon solutions,” he explained. “That said, the teachers union, the teachers themselves and a series of other residents and resident groups were submitting complaints, so we took action that we felt was warranted. Like I said, we’re working to figure out solutions.”

Touching on the mosquito issue, McAuliffe noted that because of the recent drought the mosquito population in town continues to drop. He added that residents can call the Central Mass. Mosquito Control Project for free mosquito prevention treatment of their yards.

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