Health director reports jump to 47 active COVID cases: ‘We’re seeing significant increases every day’

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Hopkinton health director Shaun McAuliffe, during his COVID-19 update at Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting, said the town is up to 47 active cases, as the number continues to rise dramatically.

“I don’t think it’s any surprise that we’ve seen an incredible surge over the last two months,” he said. “We’re seeing significant increases every day. … We’ve seen 23 new cases since last Wednesday.”

Added McAuliffe: “We’ve had over 140 cases since September 21st to today. I say over 140 because we know that there are cases that haven’t been added to our count yet.”

While the numbers are high, McAuliffe noted that most affected people have had only minor symptoms, and there have been no recent COVID-related deaths in town.

“On a positive note we’ve had less than five COVID-19 hospitalizations in this wave,” he said. “Most have been a simple visit to a 1-2 day stay. Those have been related to [low oxygen saturation in the blood] or breathing issues.”

McAuliffe also said the town continues to do a good job managing cases and limiting spread, especially in the schools.

“To date we still have no evidence of school or community spread,” he said. “We’ve been able to track every case coming into town and everything that’s presented itself in school. We’re doing a really good job at containing the illness. We have individuals contracting the illness at work and then we have spread in the home. But because [public health nurse] Kasey [Mauro] and I are reaching out to residents within a day or two days we’ve been able to confine it to the home without letting it spread.”

McAuliffe said several of the cases are travel and sports related, with the remainder coming from social gatherings outside of town.

“If you’re participating in any activities, be it sports, dining out, whatever, you’ve just got to give it a second thought because there’s a lot of risk out there,” he said.

Health officials have been notified that large-scale vaccinations are expected to be available in the spring, McAuliffe said, and the town has been preparing by using grant money to acquire generators, tents and vaccination stations. He added that another vaccine update from the state is due on Friday.

In the meantime, McAuliffe stressed that residents need to be vigilant — especially those who are working outside the home.

“I’m imploring residents in the work force, treat the virus with respect,” he said. “Wear your face covering. It’s the law. Socially distance. Practice good hygiene. And most importantly, we need people to stay home if you’re ill. If someone in the household is ill, they should assume that it’s COVID,” which means no family members should go out in public until a negative test is obtained.

On a related note, the board approved the hiring of a public health agent for the Health Department, primarily to aid with administrative and inspection work.

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