Virus update: Infected Southborough resident in hospital

by beth on March 20, 2020

At 6:00 pm tonight, the Town issued an update with the following news:

As of March 20, 2020, at 4:00 PM, there is one positive case of COVID-19 for a resident of Southborough. The resident is currently residing in a Boston hospital. With the reported case, the Town reminds residents to adhere to DPH and CDC guidelines with regards to hand washing and social distancing. We need to do all we can to curb the spread of the virus.

Click here for the full message.

1 Jennifer March 20, 2020 at 10:28 PM

Today, I was walking around my neighborhood near the Finn School. I saw a group of teens in close proximity to each other throwing frisbees and bouncing some ball off of a small trampoline. I have seen other kids who are probably not siblings out playing together. Parents, the kids are home for a reason. Do not let them socialize. We must do this now, for now.

2 Eileen March 21, 2020 at 9:56 AM

Yesterday, my husband saw a group of six or more teens congregating together outside the Stony Brook convenience store at the Cordaville Rd. strip mall. I know it’s a difficult thing to do, but friends need to stay apart, for now.

3 Frank Crowell March 21, 2020 at 3:49 PM

Maybe Beth should set up a separate blog to expose and report any violations of staying six feet apart. Post a picture of the “violators” asking, “do you know these people……if so….”

Or maybe we could find a less intrusive, more common sense way to handle this pandemic that would be less damaging to the economy and allow kids to be kids. I think the WW data has a hint.

4 Eileen March 23, 2020 at 10:58 AM

As Jennifer said, the schools are closed for a reason. This is serious.

5 southsider March 21, 2020 at 9:24 AM

Without prying or asking for any kind of HIPPA violations, I wonder if someone in the know could let us know of any public places visited by the patient in the days immediately preceeding his/her diagnosis… restaurants? gyms? public meetings? I’m very aware that it need not be me or any member of my family visiting such locations that could eventually pass the virus to us..but still think it would be good info to have. Meanwhile, our prayers for a speedy recovery to this fellow citizen.

6 beth March 21, 2020 at 12:13 PM

I had similar questions, also relating to potential infections of people who worked in town.

Town Administrator Mark Purple responded to my inquiries:

The Public Health Nurse receives notifications of any COVID-19 positives if the person in question is a Town resident. We do not get notifications if the person works in Southborough or was frequenting a Southborough business.

7 it is, and it would be March 27, 2020 at 3:08 PM

The virus cases announcement contains the following text:

“The Southborough Health Department cannot release any personal information regarding cases due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)”

Ask yourself how you and your family would feel (besides shunned) if you contracted the virus and your name was made public.

8 Jennifer March 23, 2020 at 12:45 PM

What is WW data?

9 Frank Crowell March 23, 2020 at 1:41 PM
10 Resident March 23, 2020 at 8:40 PM

Frank Crowell,

This is anecdotal, but a friend’s daughter’s friend (all NY residents) passed away from Covid last week. She was 42 and apparently healthy. Not to be alarmist, but people shouldn’t get too casual about who is at risk.

11 Jennifer March 23, 2020 at 10:41 PM
12 Frank Crowell March 25, 2020 at 8:08 AM

From the WSJ Opinion page under “Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say” Dr Eran Bendavid and Dr Jay Bhattacharya:

“A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health. We should undertake immediate steps to evaluate the empirical basis of the current lockdowns.” 


13 Frank Crowell March 25, 2020 at 4:54 PM
14 Frank Crowell March 26, 2020 at 1:20 PM

I never thought I would agree with Governor Cuomo but he is a baseball fan.

“No close contact sports in a playground,” Cuomo said during a press conference on Wednesday. “No basketball, for example. You cannot do it.”

“Let the younger people go back to work, let the recovered people go back to work,” he said. “Ramp up the economy with those individuals.”

15 beth March 26, 2020 at 1:35 PM

Maybe you agreed with him because you found his words out of context. He said:

Our public health strategy was a blunt instrument. What we said at a moment of crisis is isolate everyone. Close the schools, close the colleges, send everyone home, isolate everybody in their home. In truth, that was not the most refined public strategy. Why? Because it wasn’t even smart, frankly, to isolate younger people with older people. But, at that moment we didn’t have the knowledge, we needed to act, that’s what we did. You can now start to refine that public health strategy. You can start to say, look, the lower risk individuals do not need to be quarantined and they shouldn’t be quarantined with an older who it may be transferring to. People who are recovered, you test them, you test the antibodies, you find out that they resolved themselves of the virus. I believe once we get that test you’re going to find hundreds of thousands of people who have had the coronavirus and resolved. Once they’re resolved, they can go back to work. Develop that test, it’s in testing now, once they’re resolved let them go back to work. Let the younger people go back to work. Let the recovered people go back to work. It’s even better for the older, vulnerable people who you’re trying to protect. And then ramp up the economy with those individuals.

16 JMO March 27, 2020 at 4:52 PM

I do not agree that we didn’t have the data. It was already highly suspected that elderly were more adversely affected before the first case hit the US. I don’t know why Gov. Cuomo made that part of the statement. It seems like he is tryign to rewrite history.

17 Resident March 25, 2020 at 10:04 AM

Frank Crowell: not to be too much of a wet blanket, but the WSJ is a Murdoch publication, ,and they support Trump, along with their other media arm, Fox News. WJS need to be taken with a grain of salt, if you know what i mean.

18 Eileen March 25, 2020 at 10:50 AM
19 Eileen March 25, 2020 at 11:07 AM

And here is the most recent article in the serious. Like the other, it takes about 1/2 hr. to read, but it’s worth it.

20 Eileen March 25, 2020 at 1:00 PM

Meant to say “series”, not “serious” (although it is:)

21 Kelly Roney March 25, 2020 at 11:28 AM

Optimistic numbers:
– 350 million Americans
– 20% infection rate
– 1% case fatality rate (CFR)

70 million infected and 700,000 dead!

And a mere 1% CFR is only possible if there are enough tests and enough ventilators and enough ICU beds and enough PPEs and enough nurses and enough doctors. Which there aren’t.

And a mere 20% infection rate is only possible with massive distancing. A month ago.

The pessimistic numbers:
– 80% infected
– 5% CFR

280,000,000 infected.

14,000,000 dead.

What could change this? Trump’s feeble and nearly worthless response is in the past (probably in the future, too, though). We can’t get the past back by wishing. What can people do now? Before there’s a vaccine in a year – with some safety short-cuts, maybe less – there will be experimental therapies. Listen to medical professionals about these, not some quack at a podium whose ignorance is only surpassed by his ego. Those could cut the case fatality rate.

We also have to question – and should question, Frank – the consensus public health numbers above. Because we don’t have antibody testing, we can’t tell who’s been infected and recovered without diagnosis. If there are already millions, then the CFR goes down. More important than a positive statistic, resolved infections mean more people have acquired at least some immunity.

What if Covid-19 turns out to be seasonal, like influenza? That’s good, a little time to catch our breath and work toward solutions, but the global south would be infected in their winter, and much of the global south has no effective public health infrastructure, and Covid-19 (or would it be Covid-20?) would be back to us in the fall, just as the “Spanish” flu (really started in Kansas) came back with a vengeance in 1918.

Another fact of note: The disease Covid-19 comes from a virus called COV-SARS-2, and it’s an RNA virus, so it’s highly mutable (like the flu). That means new strains emerge easily, and they may not be recognized even by immune systems that have been able to cope with and kill previous strains. Then we’ll start hearing, “Did you get your coronavirus shot this year?”

I read the abstract of a scientific paper from 2007 (post-SARS) that identified the human consumption of wild bats as a “ticking time bomb.” Clearly China has to stop this and should have done so earlier, and it’s a closed enough society to get better results than central African nations have against Ebola, which is another virus that crosses the animal-human boundary from eating bushmeat (orangutan, if I recall correctly).

Yeah, these days, I have a lot of time for reading, but do your own homework, since I’m not an expert at all. Could you please find better optimistic numbers?!

22 Kelly Roney March 27, 2020 at 11:25 AM

About RNA virus mutability, generally:

RNA viruses generally have very high mutation rates compared to DNA viruses,[6] because viral RNA polymerases lack the proofreading ability of DNA polymerases.[7] This is one reason why it is difficult to make effective vaccines to prevent diseases caused by RNA viruses.

However, we’re in luck with coronaviruses, which do have so-called proofreading functions in their nucleic acid replication:

Note that the paper from PLOS via NIH is from 2013. I’m only familiar with some of the vocabulary, but this seems clear:

The discovery of 3′-to-5′ exoribonuclease (ExoN) activity within CoV nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14-ExoN), which is critical for CoV high-fidelity replication, has challenged the long-held paradigm that RNA viruses cannot proofread and raises the possibility of an entirely new model for how RNA viruses regulate replication fidelity.

as does this from the Summary at the bottom:

Coronaviruses encode a proofreading exoribonuclease that is responsible for genome expansion, increased robustness to mutations, and resistance to mis-incorporations during RNA synthesis, as well as being required for virulence.

23 Kelly Roney March 27, 2020 at 11:43 AM
24 Eileen March 27, 2020 at 5:39 PM

Thank you for posting these articles.

25 Resident March 25, 2020 at 12:27 PM

Kelly, thanks for the detailed post. It’s great to get the real info out there. We are in uncharted waters, and we aren’t going back to business as usual by Easter. That’s a silly pipe dream. Thanks goodness the governors are stepping up.

Very sad to hear that the Southborough resident is still in the hospital. Maybe we should all assume we are carriers, and act accordingly to protect the people we see every day.

26 Jennifer March 25, 2020 at 3:10 PM

Frank, you are flat out wrong. How cavalier of you to decide that someone dying of any age or any condition is worth someone’s stock portfolio’s health. Those teens who are blowing off the restrictions are wrong. They do not get to decide who gets sick and who doesn’t. Even without death as the final outcome, why is there desire to shoot some hoops for a few hours worth someone feeling very ill for a few weeks? It’s not.

Now I am hearing about a massive bailout of the airline industry. That ALL could have been avoided if we had had a pro-active government who did a competent SWOT review of the virus. They did not, so even in purely business terms, they failed. Adequate early testing could have contained this so that we are not having to bail out yet another industry.

Arguing with Frank, who will continue to dig up articles published by those who push what is best for the stock market is pointless. What is important is to continue to flatten the curve.

Let’s just say Frank needs medical care for a heart attack or appendicitis. He can’t get into the local hospitals because they are all maxed out with COVID-19, or, he gets in, and then gets COVID in the waiting room. Perhaps doing whatever is necessary to keep people out of the hospitals is preferable, even for the young and healthy.

So, you parents of high school kids, et al., do your job and keep them home if they aren’t doing that on their own.

27 Bob March 26, 2020 at 9:54 AM


If there were a “Like” button, I’d like your post twice. I am so tired of hearing from people who value wealth over life (particularly when many of them purport to be “Pro-Life!”).

28 Dick Chase March 26, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Economies recover from recessions and depressions.
People don’t recover from death.
Given these basic immutable facts, I prefer we err on the side of people.

29 Jennifer March 26, 2020 at 12:09 PM

Thanks. FYI dead people do not vote and dead people do not hold investments.

30 Eileen March 26, 2020 at 1:37 PM

Jennifer, I would like your post ten times over.

31 Kate Noke March 27, 2020 at 3:28 PM

Frank, I actually hear what you’re saying, and in a few weeks, (or months, who knows right now?) this gradual shift of having some individuals go back to work may indeed be possible. Unfortunately, the only way to have this work is to test, test, test, and actually identify who has recovered and has antibodies, who is negative, who is positive for COVID-19. And that just isn’t happening at high enough numbers. Given the federal government’s reluctance to actually get the full picture, or invoke the Defense Production Act, this may never happen. And there’s the tragedy of it all. In the meantime, all we can do as communities is just protect ourselves and everyone else as well as we can.

32 Frank Crowell April 1, 2020 at 11:26 AM

Thanks Kate – just saw this.

You are right. At some point, we will have to get back to work so some sort of compromise of risk will need to be made. No miracle is going to solve this within a month or two.

In the mean time, I hope all the people who left town for second homes are self quarantining. Nothing like devastating a small town with a large elderly population. I’m staying put with my freshly stocked essentials: bourbon, vodka, gin and my old jazz albums.

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