Virus Update: 4 infected residents; how Public Health is managing covid-19 cases in Southborough (Updated)

by beth on March 26, 2020

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The Town issued another update, upping the count of infected residents to four. The message indicates that the Town will switch to issuing weekly updates on the number of confirmed and presumptive cases. Those will begin on Monday March 30th.

The message stresses that under medical privacy laws, they can’t reveal patients’ identities. But it reassures:

The Southborough Health Department will continue to work with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to ensure any affected residents are properly monitored, quarantined and isolated per the guidelines set by MDPH. . .

Each confirmed case will be contacted by the Health Department. Those considered to have been in close contact with a confirmed case will be contacted by the Health Department with proper instructions regarding quarantine and testing.

On Tuesday night, an update by Board of Health staff provided more detail on how that works.*

Public Health Nurse Leslie Chamberlin said that she is alerted when a Southborough resident is tested positive for covid-19. (Word is relayed through a DPH database of just Southborough residents.) She then goes through series of questions for that “case” ranging from everything from exposure to travel history to symptoms and then into who their “contacts” have been. Then contacts become linked in that system.

Chamberlin later clarified that, based on information from DPH, contacts are people the case patient was living with or who they were within “normal range” of for at least 15 minutes.

She is responsible for monitoring the contacts, asking them questions about their temperature and symptoms. If they appear to become symptomatic, she facilitates getting them tested. If the contact is confirmed as infected, they now become a case. She case manages infected patients through the illness until cleared by their physician.

Chamberlin is set to retire on April 10th. Her replacement has been orienting with her and able to offer additional support. As a part-time employee of Sudbury (which has had more cases), Chamberlin said she’s well prepared to handle the situation. In addition, they have nurses from the Southborough schools lined up to help with monitoring cases if needed.

Chamberlin also noted that she and Fire Chief Steven Achilles have been supporting NECC with guidance and supplies. (As I previously shared, the autistic institute has live-in residents.)

Here is this afternoon’s message.

*I initially held off sharing the process details since I had some questions. Since I was unable to get answers, I’m sharing what was related in the March 24th meeting.

Updated (3/27/20 9:11 am): I forgot to note Chamberlin’s assurance that even after retirement, she will be available to help support the department if needed.

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