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Health director on COVID spike: ‘We’re trending in the wrong direction’

by | Nov 10, 2020 | News, Z-Lead Image Front Page

In his update to the Select Board on Tuesday night, health director Shaun McAuliffe said the town currently has 10 COVID-19 cases, with two more anticipated on Wednesday. The number, at zero one month ago, had spiked to 14 last Tuesday, then dropped to five a few days later before the latest jump.

“Consistent with what’s going on in the state and the country we continue to see a spike in cases throughout Hopkinton,” McAuliffe said, adding: “We’re trending in the wrong direction. We need to course correct and work at reducing our positivity rate. One of the best ways we can start doing that is by doing what we’re doing well in town already. We are testing at an exceptional rate. Since the [Department of Public Health] has been recording this, 11,126 people in town have been tested, and we’re averaging about 10 percent of the population every two weeks. We’re going to need to maintain or improve upon that testing rate to help identify who is infected, and then we’ll get them into isolation and quarantine.”

In the state’s color-coded COVID town map analysis, Hopkinton rose from green to yellow after last week’s spike but dropped back to green because the state adjusted the metrics to better account for towns with smaller populations. McAuliffe noted that the town’s average daily incident rate is at 7.4 per 100,000 and the positivity rate is 1.31 percent.

McAuliffe stressed that residents wear a mask, socially distance, focus on hygiene and stay home if showing any signs of sickness. He said the town has heard some complaints since the governor’s new restrictions — including a 9:30 p.m. curfew and face coverings in all public places — went into effect last week.

“If you’re out in public, wear a mask,” he said. “Obviously if you’re jogging down the Center Trail all alone at 6 o’clock in the morning you can take a break because there’s probably not going to be anybody within a quarter-mile of you. If you’re alone in a field singing ‘The Sound of Music’ you don’t need to wear a mask. But you’ve got to have it with you. Because at this point with this rate of infection you just don’t know who’s potentially carrying it. So we want everybody to be compliant and just protect yourself, your family and those that you work with.”

McAuliffe said individuals are getting sick at “weddings, luncheons, small gatherings and larger gatherings.” He noted that athletics have not been an issue over the last 10 days. He added that the average age, which had dropped significantly, was moving up “because we’ve seen a significant uptick in the number of older residents that are getting sick.”

Golden Pond had a staff member test positive earlier this week. Staff and residents who came in contact were tested and no further cases have arisen. This is an example of how the town’s rapid and thorough response has helped keep the numbers in check.

“On a positive note we still haven’t seen community spread, and we haven’t seen any spread in the [schools],” he said.


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