WEST NEWBURY — The Town of West Newbury Board of Health urges residents to remain vigilant against the spread of COVID-19 as the community remains at high risk for the disease, and to review the state’s health and safety guidance as they finalize plans and prepare for their holiday celebrations this year.
According to public health data released on Thursday, Dec. 17, the Town’s designation is now at “Red,” indicating a “high risk” of spread in the community. The average daily incidence rate for the Town of West Newbury is 49.5 per 100,000 residents, up from 42.47 last week.
There are currently 28 active cases of COVID-19 in the community. There have been a total of 78 cases in West Newbury since the start of the pandemic.
Residents are strongly encouraged to avoid high risk activities, especially indoor social or holiday gatherings, and all Massachusetts residents are under orders from the Governor to wear masks at all times while in public.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), residents should take the following precautions this holiday season:
- Limit in-person celebrations to household members only
- Postpone or cancel travel this holiday season. If you do choose to travel, be aware of and comply with Massachusetts travel order requirements. Note: Hawaii is currently the only state where people can travel from to Massachusetts without being required to fill out the state’s travel form and quarantine and/or produce a negative COVID-19 test result.
- Follow the current state gathering size limits and sector-specific workplace safety standards.
Those who still choose to travel or host a small gathering are urged to consider lower risk alternatives and review the precautions they can take to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
DPH recommends several lower risk activities for celebrating the holidays this year, such as:
Lower-Risk Celebrations and Activities:
- Limit in-person holiday gatherings to only people you live with.
- Host a virtual holiday dinner with extended family or friends.
- Prepare foods for family and neighbors and deliver them in a contactless way.
- Virtually attend your traditional holiday activities, such as a visit with Santa.
- Consider virtual caroling or reciting. Provide a link to your virtual caroling for the people you want to sing to.
- View holiday lights from your car with those you live with.
Higher-Risk Celebrations and Activities:
- Any time you gather with others outside of your household, you increase the risk of contracting or spreading illness. All residents are discouraged from gathering with those from outside their household. Gatherings in Massachusetts are subject to gathering size limits.
- You are risking your health and the health of others if you host or participate in any in-person festivities if you or anyone in your household:
- has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not completed the isolation period;
- has symptoms of COVID-19;
- is waiting for COVID-19 viral test results;
- may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days; or
- is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions.
- If in-person caroling or reciting, stay more than 25 feet from the people you are reciting or singing for and wear a mask. Remain outdoors while caroling.
- If you visit Santa Claus in person, wear a mask, stay six feet from Santa and others while in line, and make a reservation for your visit where available.
- If viewing holiday lights outdoors, take a one-way walk with those you live with and maintain distance from others.
Other Recommendations and Guidance:
- Always wear your mask and watch your distance. (Remove your mask only for eating and drinking.)
- Do not share food, drink, or any utensils, including serving utensils.
- Seat people with plenty of space (at least six feet) from one another while dining.
- Consider seating people at smaller tables in multiple rooms instead of around a large family table.
- Improve ventilation by opening windows and doors.
- If setting up outdoor seating under a tent, ensure guests are still seated with physical distancing in mind. Enclosed four-wall tents will have less air circulation than open air tents and should be considered indoor spaces (also check fire codes for heating tents).
- If outdoor temperature or weather forces you to put down the tent sidewalls, consider leaving one or more sides open or rolling up the bottom 12 inches of each sidewall to enhance ventilation while still providing a wind break.
More information about the state’s guidance for holiday celebrations can be found here.
Residents are reminded to always take the following precautions to prevent further spread of COVID-19 in the community:
- Remember that an infected individual can spread COVID-19 before they have symptoms, which is why social distancing — maintaining a minimum of 6 feet from others — is critical.
- Those who must go out are urged to:
- Avoid gathering in groups
- Maintain 6 feet from people outside your household
- Do not shake hands or hug
- Wash your hands often
- Those who are at a high risk for COVID-19, including those over the age of 65 and with underlying health conditions, are advised to stay home and avoid non-essential tasks and errands
- Wear a mask in indoor and outdoor spaces at all times.
- Face coverings should:
- Cover the nose and mouth
- Fit snugly and comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with either ties or ear loops
- Permit breathing without difficulty
- Be able to be washed and machine dried without damage. Face masks should be washed regularly depending on the amount of use.