EEE update: Schools lifted precautions, field curfew active in rest of town (until Monday?)

by beth on November 7, 2019

Earlier this week, I looked into an update on the EEE situation. Area news seemed to be indicating that Worcester County was safe, and we are in that county. And an announcement from the school superintendent shows that they gave an all clear. But the more I looked, the more uncertain the information appeared. So, I decided to hold off, waiting for official word.

forecast temps by NWSThat word is in. The answer is that we’re still under the 6:00 pm to 6:00 am restrictions for Town owned fields and parks. But the hope is that will be lifted on Monday. A forecast indicates that we may get a hard frost over the weekend. (Click on the image right for the National Weather Services’ forecast as of early this afternoon.)

You may have read news reports (like this one) about a hard frost that killed off EEE threats in some areas. They refert to counties that include Worcester. It’s important to note that while the state says that a hard frost happened “in” Worcester, it doesn’t say “throughout”.

That means some areas of the county may have been cold enough for long enough to kill off area mosquitoes. But there was no record keeping that could show that our town (especially, the entire town) experienced a hard frost. The best the state could provide was a map that showed our low temp, but not even for how long that low was reached.

The state posted that the map was meant to “assist communities in determining when a hard frost is likely to have occurred.” In other words, they weren’t sure themselves. I’m guessing that’s the reason state officials held off on updating the EEE risk map. The latest version is from last week and still shows Southborough as critical.

After reading a notice from the schools notifying that they would be eliminating the EEE precautions (scroll down for that), I reached out to Town departments for an update.

Recreation Director Tim Davis said he was looking into it. He got back to me today:

EEE Outdoor ban recommendation is still in effect. Department of Public Health plans to lift it Monday as Today-Saturday forecast calls for consistent freezing temps at night. Some areas of town, especially down by the reservoir, did not see a consistent freeze as other locations this week.

I also heard back from Public Health Director Paul Pisinski today. He provided more detail: 

The Southborough Board of Health office has generally relied on our Mosquito Control Project office to inform us of the status of the Mosquito species that carry EEE and their prevalence to still be moving or present in Southborough.  As you might know, temperatures in towns, to say nothing of counties can vary tremendously depending on elevation above sea level and other micro-climatic and climatological conditions.  OUR OFFICE DOES NOT GO BY WHAT OTHER TOWNS HAVE ISSUED IN THE WAY OF ALL-CLEAR EDICTS OR EVEN OTHER DEPARTMENTS.  We have an Emergency preparedness committee and it was that committees consensus when we first met to discuss the initial threat of EEE mosquitoes that when we had at least two days of a hard freeze ( 28 to 30 degrees F or lower throughout the ENTIRE TOWN, the ADVISORY for not allowing publicly sanctioned events on public land between the hours of 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM was to be adhered to.  Unfortunately we do not have a Southborough Official Meteorologists who can record the temperature from the highest elevation (i.e. Overlook Drive, the top of Wyndemere, the top of Oak Hill Road and the lowest elevations near the Sudbury River.   The maps issued by DPH are very crude, generic maps for counties and Southborough was listed as CRITICAL when I last looked.

Tim Deschamps, the Director for our Mosquito Control Project sent me an e-Mail saying that he expected that the expected drop in temperature for this coming weekend just put a halt on our EEE threat in ALL OF SOUTHBOROUGH.

Here is the message that Superintendent Greg Martineau sent to Southborough and Northborough public school parents on Monday:

I have an important update of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) or Triple E. After consulting with Mary Ellen Duggan, The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough Wellness Coordinator, Dr. Safdar Medina, District Physician, and the Department of Public Health, the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough will resume all outdoor activities and no longer apply insect repellent to students who had written permission.

I want to thank the community for its support and patience as we navigated the serious risk of Triple E. We are thrilled to resume normal activities in our District. If you have any questions, please contact Mary Ellen Duggan, The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough Wellness Coordinator.

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