ARLINGTON — The Town of Arlington seeks to continuously update its residents on any local preparedness efforts and impacts from the ongoing nationwide novel coronavirus situation.
Public Health Director Natasha Waden, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine, Director of Health and Human Services Christine Bongiorno, and Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Bodie met today after an Arlington resident was diagnosed with a presumptive case of COVID-19, the illness associated with the novel coronavirus. The Town was notified today that one of their children, who is a student in the Stratton Elementary School, has also tested positive for COVID-19.
Arlington’s Health Department today informed all faculty and staff and the families of any students who are considered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as being “close contacts” with the infected student. Those individuals have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days and not report to school on Tuesday, in accordance with the advice of DPH.
The Town and the Arlington Public Schools stress: If you have not been notified by the Arlington Health Department that you need to self-quarantine, then you do not need to self-quarantine.
Arlington Public Schools will open and operate normally tomorrow. The Stratton Elementary School will be open tomorrow. The Stratton School was closed today to allow the Health Department time to trace all close contacts of this case.
All actions are being undertaken in accordance with the latest guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Town and its public health, human services and public safety officials are well-prepared to respond to the coronavirus situation, and officials prepare and train for public health emergencies regularly.
A “close contact” is a person that has been within six feet of a confirmed case for longer than 15 minutes at one time, or in direct contact with infectious secretions, while the case was likely to be infectious. A person is likely to be infectious from when they begin exhibiting symptoms up until at least 24 hours after they are symptom free.
If an individual was in the same location as a person with COVID-19 before they had symptoms, even if they were in close contact, health officials stress that they were not exposed to the virus because the individual was not contagious at that time. In addition, health officials advise that walking through a building or room where there is or was a positive case of COVID-19 does not mean you are a close contact.
The Arlington Public Schools will utilize online learning technologies to ensure that students will be able to continue their lessons with as little disruption as possible. No student or employee in self-quarantine will have their absences counted against them–employees will not be using their paid time off/sick time.
As always, if anyone displays symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should not come to work or school and they are advised to contact their primary care physician.
The Town of Arlington was notified Sunday that a resident, a woman in her 40s who attended a Biogen employee conference last week, and one of her children developed symptoms. Both were tested for COVID-19 and both tested positive. The second parent in the household and their other child, who attends the Gibbs School, remained symptom free on Monday but shall remain in self-quarantine until a 14-day period has elapsed, in accordance with guidance from DPH.
Arlington’s health officials are still awaiting test results which involve another Arlington family, a member of which also attended the Biogen conference, whose children attend school at Dallin Elementary, Gibbs and Arlington High School.
Health Director Waden reports that the two patients are recovering at home and that these two families will continue to be monitored and supported by public health officials.
The newest Arlington presumptive positive case is included in the 13 cases announced by state public health officials Monday. A total of 41 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Massachusetts as of Sunday afternoon. The Massachusetts State Public Health Lab’s results are considered “presumptive positive” and the specimens will now be sent to the CDC for final confirmation.
The risk of COVID-19 to the general public in Massachusetts remains low at this time, according to DPH.
A second sanitization of the Stratton School occurred Monday, with crews using cleaning sprays and electrostatic machines, which are particularly effective at mitigating infections and viruses, with special attention to commonly touched surfaces and objects.
As always, children and adults should be reminded to take everyday precautionary steps to stay healthy, including handwashing, which is always the first line of defense against the spread of germs.
“We have an excellent team of professionals in the Town of Arlington who ensure our community is well-prepared to respond to a public health crisis,” Town Manager Chapdelaine said. “We have been in constant communication with the Department of Public Health, and all of our actions are being taken in consultation with state and local public health officials. I want to reassure everyone in our community that the risk remains low and Arlington is open for business.”
In a planning meeting on Friday, Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Kevin Kelley implemented the federal Incident Command System. Director Waden was named the Incident Commander for COVID-19 preparedness and response in Arlington.
The Arlington Health Department will continue to monitor the global spread of COVID-19 and continue to keep residents informed.
For more information, visit the Town of Arlington Health and Human Services COVID-19 page or call the health department at 781-316-3170. You may also visit the DPH’s website by clicking here and the CDC’s website by clicking here.
Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available.