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 again Tuesday and have reviewed the latest guidance from the Department of Public Health and Governor Charlie Baker’s Office.
The Governor has declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, DPH announced the number of total cases of COVID-19, the illness associated with the novel coronavirus, rose to 92 in Massachusetts.
Town and school leaders are reviewing the latest information from Governor Baker’s office regarding the State of Emergency declaration. The Arlington Leadership Team will meet Wednesday morning and expects to release more information about the town’s response to the governor’s declaration by mid-day.
Public Health Director Waden is pleased to announce that the second Arlington resident who was tested for COVID-19 after attending a Biogen event last week in Boston has tested negative for the illness. Officials are optimistic about the child, whose test remains pending, and the family shall remain in self-quarantine until that test result is also received.
Another Arlington resident and their child, a Stratton Elementary School student, continue to recover from home after testing positive by the state lab.
Arlington Public Schools and public buildings remain open and will operate normally tomorrow.
All local 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). This includes CDC guidance for school administrators.
The COVID-19 situation is very fluid, and new information and guidelines are being posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on a regular basis. The CDC offers the following guidance for how COVID-19 spreads. The virus is believed to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may also be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
While the CDC believes people are most contagious when they are most symptomatic (sickest), it is now believed that it is possible to spread the virus before showing symptoms, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
“It is important to note that this is a fluid and uncertain situation, and we are adapting our response protocols and methods as soon as we receive new information from the CDC or DPH,” Director Waden said.
The Governor’s State of Emergency declaration includes remote working accommodations for executive branch employees of the state government. The Town of Arlington is continuing reviewing the governor’s recommendations. The Town government remains open and operational and able to serve the citizens and business community in Arlington.
For any students who need to miss school because of self-quarantine, 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 who needs to miss school will have their absences counted against them–employees will not be using their paid time off/sick time.
The Town of Arlington also asks everyone to be ever-mindful of how we treat one another. Arlington is a community that values its diversity. The town’s mix of ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds is part of what makes the community great. Town leaders urge that each and every individual should be treated with respect. Prejudice, xenophobia and victim-shaming are not the right ways for a community to respond to the current public health situation. Viruses do not discriminate, so neither should we.
Local, State and Federal Health officials are encouraging residents to take the following precautions to prevent infectious diseases, such as the flu and COVID-19, from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- When sick yourself, stay home to protect others.
- Always cover your cough or sneeze.
The risk of COVID-19 to the general public in Massachusetts remains low, according to DPH.
The State of Emergency declaration formally activates the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Locally, Arlington’s Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Kevin Kelley, has been involved in planning and response efforts from the beginning. In a planning meeting on Friday, Chief Kelley implemented the federal Incident Command System and named Director Waden the Incident Commander for COVID-19 preparedness and response in Arlington.
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.